I’m so behind – February has kicked my butt – but the troops have arrived to help over the next few days. My dad is on photo duty (those are his fingers in the photo), my talented mom will be joining the button-making squad, and Jay’s in the studio making naughty-word mugs for knitters. I’m sorting packages and getting mail done then I’ll jump back into making yarn bowls. Or nap. It’s hard to tell these days. There’s nothing as exciting as a lingering head injury that springs headaches and brightness and sensory overload unexpectedly. No matter what happens, I’d like to clone me so I can be with everyone at once – the energy of the house is wonderful. #creativeinsurgency #ceramics #yyc
Ceramics is about timing: is my ware wet enough or dry enough for whatever stage that I’m at? Tonight I pulled handles, then trimmed mugs while the handles dried, then worked with another set of eight mugs, and then… nope, the timing didn’t work this time. These pulled handles aren’t dry enough to attach to mugs so they’re heading into time-out under plastic. The handles and the mugs need to be at very similar stages of dampness so that the handles just don’t crack and fall off. You’d think that in this dry Alberta climate, they would have stiffened up in all that time but nope, still floppy and far too annoying to work with. It’s too close to bedtime and I need to get my beauty rest – I like my handles just a wee bit closer to leather, thank you very much. Now I will hope that they don’t dry too much under the plastic because I won’t be able to pay them any attention until tomorrow night. With ten mugs waiting for handles, I sure hope the mugs stay wet enough while the handles stiffen just a wee bit so that the timing works perfectly.
Look what we made! Who doesn’t want a tiny fiddle hanging from their tree this season? (click photos to enlarge) The Calgary Fiddlers Association is, well, all about young Calgary fiddlers. Within the association are the Bow Valley Fiddlers groups that range from age 7 to 18, and the Calgary Fiddlers group for 13 to 18 year olds. Each group is a finely choreographed performing troupe, and talented far beyond their age. Their annual winter show, “Fiddle Fantasia”, is set for December 19, 2015 at the University of Calgary Theatre (details here). All the groups will perform in a night of celebration and festivities and I’m honoured to be part of their celebration, bringing sweet fiddles to help raise funds for these amazing kids. Hanging from their lobby tree will be a limited run of 100 ceramic fiddle ornaments, each inscribed with Calgary Fiddlers Association on the back. They can be purchased onsite at the concert. How’d we do it? Every fiddle is one of a kind, using a mixture of textures and glazes, and a process that is 100% hand made from the wedging of clay to the hanging of ribbons from their scrolls. Myself (Cara), Jason, and Jason’s mother Cheryl created and assembled one hundred of these precious fiddles over the course of two months. Each slab of clay is hand rolled, and the violin shape is manually cut from the slab. Texture and embossed decoration is added at this stage, then the fingerboard, tail piece, chin rest, bridge, and scroll are layered on top and secured with slip. Finally, the f-holes are added (or left off, depending on the style of the fiddle). After drying to leather-hard, each is inscribed with Calgary Fiddlers Association on the back. Each fiddle is then handpainted with glaze that will become glossy and bright, and loaded flat onto kiln shelves. They spend 9 hours under heat up to 1200C then cool over the next 10-14 hours. Once removed from the kiln, they are cooled and unloaded from the kiln. They are then assembled with a cut ribbon knotted on each so that they can be hung from your tree. This was definitely one of the more intriguing projects that we’ve taken on, and the end result makes me so joyful, I can barely express it. I hope that they all find loving homes, and add a sparkle to trees for generations to come.
We get by with a little help from our friends. In this case, it is my niece (and an artist in her own right) Jill Reynaud at the button table with me. Her eye for texture makes it easier for me to accept help, and she didn’t even flinch when I used the term “aggressively sponge”. I am a control freak when it comes to accepting help in the studio, and up until now my Mom, with a lifetime of artistry under her belt, had been the only other to touch the buttons. There are many that have offered and I’ve always declined because quality control is my #1 priority, and I don’t want to offend helpers by harping at them to “do it my way”. I need for ceramic buttons, diz, pendants, and everything else coming out of the studio to have smooth edges so they never catch or cut yarn. Smoothing every edge and hole is incredibly time intensive, but I personally feel that the final product quality is worth it. With two fibre shows coming up, and custom orders waiting for my attention, getting some help is the only way to get clay beauties into everyone’s hands. The clay gods heard my cries, and Jill arrived, eager to jump in. And I don’t offend her (or if I do, she just smiles and keeps making beautiful things) Thank you, Jill!