New Carving for Studio Tour Sept 7-8

WHITE LINES have their own history in fine craft disciplines.  In ceramics, the ‘cuerdo seco’ technique leaves an unglazed line on tiles which separates sections of glaze.   In print-making, Blanche Lazelle and the Provincetown group in New England left un-printed white lines to separate areas of color on woodblock prints.    In silk painting, the serti technique uses lines of resist to separate colors.   And, for wood artists, there is a white liming wax that we can use to fill carved lines in our work.

This wooden quilt uses while lines to unify the 6 inch and 3 inch blocks of cherry, along with turning, carved textures, milk paint, and stencils.

After making these blocks, I decided to make my own printing blocks for printing textiles.  These very recent efforts will be on display for the Studio Tour this year, along with the first fabric quilts I have made with them.

Creative Gambit – a risky show!

I’m working alongside Liz Kettle (textiles) and Jennifer Hanson (pottery) to present a show of new work in Manitou’s Commonwheel Gallery in July.  Although most of fine craft is just plain hard work, sometimes it needs a playful start to find new directions.

Creative Gambit will have risk-taking moves by each of us individually, as well as three assemblies combining our work.   For three artists who work in primarily functional mode, these collaborations are a distinct departure.

‘Tea for 3’ will be a still life vignette inspired by Alice in Wonderland.   The stack of cups is turned off-center in two sections; the handles are bent spoons.  Liz is making a fabric vase, and Jennifer has crafted a whimsical teapot.     We realized early on that in a gallery, we should do gallery things.  The still life painting is a popular genre, but we can go behind the scenes to make our own subject matter.  That is one of the powers of fine craftwork!

 

 

Hang Yer Hat

  I have quite a set of caps, so I have been thinking about ways to store them.  These two products were inspired by the sketches I have been doing for the ‘Creative Gambit’ show in July.   Both of them are turned from some 6 x 6″ recycled redwood posts.

The pawn is a nice table-top stand from a classic shape in chess.

The hall tree is built like a totem – small turned sections on a central 2″ plastic pipe.  I have always wanted to make larger spindle turnings, but I have a short-bed Vicmark lathe.   The totem design is a great solution.  The sections can be rearranged, too.  This totem includes finishes with charring and black milk paint, painted faux beadwork, metal reactive paints, and one bead that is upholstered with a batik fabric.

I have always been interested in products on the cusp between treen and furniture.  Here are two!

Canteens at Boulder Street Gallery

An assortment of canteens – wood or ceramic, torus-shaped or round – now at Boulder Street Gallery (through March).

The ceramic torus canteens commemorate the ‘pilgrim flask’ which was a traditional pottery product.  There are several also turned from wood, just to explore this form in a different medium.

Most of them here are 2-axis turned canteens with at least one medallion to cover the hole used to hollow it out.  There is one medallion turned from pewter, and several others with wood medallions turned, textured, with color, gilders’ paste, or pyrography.  Two of them are ‘faux’ canteens with beer-bottle openers on one side.

Wooden canteens are one of the projects that Dennis often demonstrates for other woodturners.  His website has more photos and instructions – dennisliggett.com

My studio has a kitchen!

Ridgeway Studios’ clay studio and woodshop are in a cottage that I lived in until 2009, complete with a working kitchen and sunny windows.

Yesterday I was working with underglazes on two different colors of clay.  Surface design for clay has been a long study.  It is only after working with pyrography and color on wood that I begin to see the amazingly easy ways to design for the clay surface, starting with the plasticity of the forms.  The bottle in the darker clay, for example, was shaped while wet with four sides, while the top remains round.  This suggested squares for the application of color.

Surface design only works when the form requires it for a sense of wholeness.   That is, it has to be much better with the surface design than without it.  I think I have been intimidated by that standard for a long time.

January starts with Ice Age art

In 2003, I made a quilt, 13000 B.C., after spending several weeks learning to draw the animals in cave paintings in Dordogne and Altamira from that time.  The cave artists worked in the dark, using simple pigments, and drawing quickly.  They often drew over older drawings, and calcium deposits have covered some of the work over the past 10000 years.   I felt that it was OK to use their style, since so many different artists had already contributed to the cave paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

Since that first quilt, I have used the drawings on freeform stoneware plates, and more recently, on highly figured maple burls.  Something about the complex surface of the burl invites simple lines.   Where the figures have shading, it was done with oil paints, which blend beautifully on wood.

A group of these turnings and plates will be at the Boulder Street Gallery in January 2019.

The bowl with the ice age rhino is birch, about 8″ in diameter.

Milkpaint madness

‘Earthenware’ uses carved cross-hatching through layers of milk paint, which are also sanded back.  About 9″ diameter.

The center medallion is turned on the offset axis, but moves visually back to the center!  It seems that the effect of the offset bowl is obscured by creating a center for it.   Won’t do that again…..

Milkpaint is subtle.  I find it very difficult to photograph the actual appearance of these platters. 

‘Mums’ uses deeper carving in order to fit the scale of this 18″ platter blank.  The mums are sanded back to the original red underpainting so that the edges of the petals emerge.    Sunflower milk paint provided a deep layer over the whiter paint, which was textured with deeply textured paper while it was wet.  It has a little more of a silk brocade feeling.  A thin wash of sparkly gold covers the entire platter.

Just for fun!

Did the Vikings build snowmen?

Here’s my answer made from Colorado aspen.  6″ tall

Merryl Saylan in my life!

Merryl has been using milk paint on platters and fruit for most of her career as a woodturner.  Even when other turners became more and more flamboyant, she stayed with her restrained shapes and quiet colors.   She is best known among symposium attendees for her use of milk paint finishes.   In November, the Center for Art in Wood will present a retrospective of her work.

In honor of Merryl, I ventured into some unknown dimensions.

I haven’t made platters this large (13″ diameter) before, so scaling up the surface design to the bigger surface area was challenging for me.  I also wanted to explore ways of using milk paint as a finish.   I chose to layer 5 colors of milk paint in a very free way, with big brushes, while the layers were still wet.  I had burned and carved some areas of texture before painting.  Often, sanding back through the layers works well.  This time, however, I wanted to stay with manipulating the texture of the wet paint, by lifting off some of it.  I liked that effect well enough to forego sanding back through the layers.

Great Studio Tour Weekend!

Thanks to everyone who visited during the Studio Tour Weekend.   This is the best way for us to learn about our customers’ preferences, because they can see a wider range of our work than what is in shows or galleries.    This year, for example, I had some experimental bowls with resin, and the new Stormborn ice-dyes.  I also learned that I need to keep working on the charred-finish wood.  Luckily, the woodturning symposium the very next weekend in Loveland gave me some of the techniques that I need to make these more successful, thanks to Merryl Saylan.

The Studio Tour is also a great time for customers to learn about our making process.    It helps to keep traditional crafts thriving, even when the technologies may have been superseded by mass production.  Winter is coming, and making things is a very human strategy for survival.