Settling in

With a new studio space, I’m making a renewed effort to make the occasional post, showing a little of my process or dispensing valuable information.

A new studio space? Well, do tell!

new studio!

My husband, the two cats and I packed up all our belongings and moved across town into a lovely house which we own and, therefore, are able to make any changes I might need for my work. The timing couldn’t be better as, not long after, I learned that the Resident Ceramic Artist program at the Kirkland Arts Center was being dissolved, affording them more space for their growing student population. I am in complete support of this decision on the part of KAC, however, I am also so very grateful to have been on my way towards having a stable space of my own prior to this news. So, new house, new basement studio.

trusty wheel nestled in its corner

The new space – the basement is mostly finished, affording me the amenities of heat and bathroom – there’s actually a second kitchen, giving the option to rent the space to a tenant, if only I didn’t need it for my clay work. The kitchen area has a cement floor that’s been treated in some fashion to make the cement more attractive. The important thing here is that it’s still cement, which is a wonderful floor for studio space – durable and easy to clean and, most importantly, kiln-safe. I’ve been gradually moving bits of equipment and tools from KAC to the new studio. My wheel came over a month ago, and I took the all important step of building a wedging table not long after. For those not completely familiar with the clay vernacular, clay that comes straight from the store, fresh from the bag is, strictly speaking, ready to go without any prep. Once you’ve used that clay, though, scraps go into a bucket to be rewetted and reworked. We call this reclaiming. Reclaimed clay must be dried out to a workable state, and plaster is the best surface for this – it’s very porous and helps to dry the clay evenly without molding. Wedging tables are typically made of plaster and used both for drying clay and then reworking it or wedging it. Wedging is similar to kneading dough in the motion, pressing the clay into the table with your palms, turning, pressing, turning, pressing, and so on. The clay needs to be smooth and consistent in water content. Also, wedging works any air bubbles trapped within the clay out. Air bubbles can be disastrous, especially when working on the wheel as they mess with the centered, evenness of the clay.

the newly made wedging table

But I digress…

The main, final, necessary piece to making my studio truly functional is a larger kiln and matching electrical hookup. My little kiln has served me well, and continues to be just perfect for small batches of bisque-ware, but it is sadly inadequate for glaze firing. But hark! I have located and acquired a second hand kiln via craigslist! What luck! Now, this kiln does need… a little work; the kiln brick has seen better days. So parts have been ordered, how to videos watched, and I look forward to updating my new-to-me kiln in the near future. For the time being, I’m back to my old habits of making pieces at the home studio, firing, and then hauling them to KAC for glazing and the second firing.