Saturday, August 29, 2009

Week 7 Pieces

I threw these last week. I was very happy that I was able to throw a nesting set. Was also trying out a new clay -- white stoneware. Don't know if I like it though -- it doesn't hold the shape as well as the red stoneware. The bowl on the right is made with white stoneware. Notice that the curve at the base (the bell shape) is not as pronounced? I have more of the white stoneware and will continue to try them out this week. Also, I've learned to trim the foot on my pieces so now all of my pieces, essentially, takes longer to complete because I have to let the pieces dry for about a week and then trim off the base to form a nice looking foot. The foot "design" is a whole different spectrum of knowledge and asthetic. More to learn. This week is Week 8 and the final week for the summer class. I will have two weeks off and then resume class in September. Yay!

Peek-a-boo, I see you!

Pottery Week 2 and 3 Pieces -- Glazed

Some of the pieces I threw on the wheel in week 2 and glazed in week 3 (I think -- don't really remember) are finally ready. Take a look -- comments welcomed. By the way, if you're reading this on Facebook, you will have to click on the link and read the actual post to see pictures (the summary does not show pictures).

This is a very interesting piece. It is a twisted bowl and I painted (with a brush) all of the twists and turns with Aviva's Blue, Red Iron and Temoku. Then I dipped the whole piece in Shaner White.

This is a bowl shape that is glazed in Yellow Salt and some other glaze that I cannot remember right now. I didn't really like the effect of the dribble because it pooled at the base of the bowl and wasn't very attractive. Gotta try this again with less glaze.

This is a tea cup shape that I embellished by putting grooves on the outside. I then glazed the whole piece in Shaner White and attempted to put Aviva's Blue into the grooves on the outside. I wasn't very successful and I think I need a banding wheel (turntable like device on a stand) to easily work on spirals.

This piece is also a tea cup shape and will probably work better as a tea cup. The glaze on this is Shaner White on the outside and Celadon on the inside. I am discovering that I really like Shaner White. The red part that you see if where I wiped off too much glaze and the raw clay is showing through. An effect to be explored further in future pieces.

This piece is a tea cup shape (I think I can only make tea cups -- LOL) but I don't know if it will be very effective as a tea cup. The lips are curved inwards. I guess I would have to give it a try and see if would cause water to spill out the side of the mouth. This again is done in Aviva's Blue on the outside with Red Iron on the inside and around the lip on the outside dripping down into the Aviva's Blue.

I sort of ran out of ideas for glazing so dipped this whole piece in Aviva's Blue. I thought I would really like the deep blue color of Aviva's Blue but after the piece came out, I thought it was sort of flat and boring compared to the other pieces.

This is my favorite piece (and I can make more than tea cups). This piece is a bowl shape. It is a little small (I am still quite surprise by how much the pieces shrink after they are fired twice) but I love the shape, the elegant curve at the bottom and the little foot. I also really like how the glaze turned out. The glaze is a Temoku that is overdipped part of the way with Shaner White. The interaction of the two glazes causes some sort of spotting effect and the color combination also causes some bronzy/gold color to appear. I will definitely have to try this combination again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Let there be lights

The lights are in and it took all day Monday to install -- no, I didn't do it -- the lighting designer did. I must say, the lights are beautiful. There is now multiple layers of lights. Got new track lighting for that kitchen that really ligths up the cabinets, provide task lighting and also addresses the general lighting in the kitchen. The LED undercabinet lights are gorgeous and really bright and add another layer to the lighting scheme. I was surprised by how bright the LEDs were. The three glass pendants over the island are artisan glass and hand made and are pieces of art in their own right. They are beautiful even when not turned on.

The dining room got updated track heads and a new drum pendant over the dining table. Very classy in a black linen finish and a white diffuser. An unexpected outcome of all this is that I got updated wall swiches too. They are nice but I am not sure if I am going to spend the money to have all the switches in the house updated. Something to consider for the future -- far into the future.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Granite is here today

The granite is here today. I think I mentioned that I selected a slab called Tan Brown. Well, there's some red in it too -- that I am excited about. Setting it on the island and the countertop right now. New sink, faucet and backsplash also going in today. The sink I select from Home Depot -- seems like it is their exclusive line called Pegasus. It is a black composite granite sink. I love it. The workers will come back tomorrow to grout the backsplash and the project would be 80% done. New cabinet coming in early September and I think the lights too. Yay!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Phase 1 -- Complete

Phase 1 is done. Cabinets are refinished and they look really nice. Like they are all brand new. Dining room and Kitchen painted and the color is quite soothing and very nice. It always amazes me how the same colored paint could be so different depending on what surface it is on and how the light hits it. The Heirloom Gold color from Benjamin Moore is yellowish at times and greenish some other times. I really like the color. The accent wall color is Suntan Bronze and it really does anchor the other side of the room across from all the cabinets and appliances. Phase 2 is next week and it's the new countertop and backsplash. Need to confirm the installation date. Most likely a two day project -- put in the countertop, hook up the plumbing and then install the backsplash. Day 2 will be grouting. Yay! There's still Phase 3 and Phase 4 but I will keep you posted. No more pictures until the grand reveal.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 2 -- Remodeling

Doors . . .
Doors . . . every where.

Just not where they are suppose to be . . . yet.

So, day 2 started bright and early -- 7:30 to be exact.

More of a repeat of what took place yesterday. The first coat of polyurethane was put on yesterday afternoon before the workmen left. Today, they sanded down the first coat and added the second coat. What I found out today is that they've only done the back of the door and the front of the door hasn't been done yet. Which means more of teh same -- one coat of polyurethane on the front of the cabinet doors, sand them down again and then the final coat.

The workmen also started painting the dining room and the kitchen. The first coat is down on the wall, except the accent wall. I have to say that the Heirloom Gold color is quite pleasing. However, this new coat of paint is showing off a lot of imperfections in the wall. The workmen are doing quite a good job of patching what they can though. We'll have to wait and see when it is all done.

There's stuff all over the place -- I never really knew that I have so much stuff. Maybe it is because they are spread all over the place. I vow to purge when I am putting stuff back.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It's on...

The cabinet doors and drawers came off this morning. The old finish is being stripped right now. Seems like it may take two attempts to remove all the old finish. Let it dry and apply the new finish. Then, when that dries, the doors and drawers will go back on the cabinet. Painting will take place this week as well. The accent wall is a Suntan Bronze color and the rest will be in a Heirloom Gold -- all from Benjamin Moore. Will post pictures when it is done.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pottery Week 2 and 3

Pottery Week 2 wasn't very productive. I had a lot of trouble centering and building the wall. I only made 2 pieces that week. They have been glazed and are being fired right now. I will post pictures when they are done glazing.

Week 3 was more productive. We started learning the bowl shape and I seems to take to the bowl shape better than the cyclinder shape. The difference between a bowl shape and a cyclinder shape is that the bowl shape has a curved bottom while the cyclinder shape has a hard edge at the bottom. I made 7 pieces that week. The picture on the right shows the pieces in the bisk state. I took the picture before I glazed them. Wonder how they will look after it is done. Again will post picture when they come out of the kiln.

I've also started taking notes on the pieces I make -- taking measurements of the pieces before they are fired and afterwards to keep track of shrinkage. Also keeping notes of the glazes used and the combination to find the one I like. I've been told that clay shrinks a total of about 12% between from start to finish. Right now, the measurements are showing me that from the leather-hard stage to the bisk stage, the pieces shrinks about 0.5 cm. I haven't measured how much it shrinsk from glazing to final. As for glazes, I really like the Whites, Aviva Blue and Red Iron. I saw a really interesting green color the other day but it is out right now and they are mixing another batch. Will try that when it is available.

Pottery Week 1

Week one of First Time Potter is about clay preparation, Hand Building and the basics on Wheel Throwing. The clay has to go through a process called Wedging before they can be used. This, essentially, means you knead the lump of clay to remove air bubbles trapped inside the clay. There is a special way to do this so that you don't end up introducing air into the clay instead. Air expand when heated and any air bubble trapped inside your piece will explode during the firing process and might ruin you piece and all your hard work would go to waste.

Hand Building is taking a piece of wedged clay and making pieces without the wheel. You can use moulds, pinching, coils, etc. etc. So, all the pieces in the picture above is from Hand Bulding. The piece at the 12 o'clock position is a coil pot. What you do with a coil pot is to roll out your piece of clay into a long piece of "snake" and coil it around and around. You can choose to smooth out the sides or leave the lines so you see the coil. These pieces are left to harden to a leather state, the bisk fired, glazed and then fired again. The coil pot was fired in Celadon, (clockwise) the next piece is in a color called Temoku, then Red Iron and the last rectangular one has Aviva Blue on the outside.

Week 1 also saw me trying to center a lump of clay on the wheel. Centering is perhaps the foundation move of any wheel throwing projects. If you can't center your lump of clay, your piece will end up having uneven walls. If the clay wobbles bad enough, you might end up wearing your work. LOL. None of my wheel throwing pieces were presentable from Week One. Ekkk!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

There is no light at the end of the tunnel . . .

when it comes to lighting. If you are not getting a standard track lighting kit, the "science" of track lighting would require a PhD in and of itself. Single circuit, 2 circuit, head, canopy, pendant, monorail, transformer, low voltage, line voltage -- the terminology just goes on and on. Thanks to my friend Roger, I have gone to his lighting guy and ask for a consultation. I hope his going to show me the "light" and let me know what my options are. Again, it will probably be a phased approach. The money pit is not a bottomless pit you know!!!! I know I would be interested in some task lighting, a couple of pendants over the island, undercabinet lighting, maybe replace the existing track in the dining room. We'll see. Put on the poker face. Bwahahahaha!

Ahhh . . . run for the hills

So, yeah, it's a done deal. The contract is signed -- I am legally bonded to pay for the work done. I even gave the general contractor a project plan so she will know my expectation explicitly -- should have done a Statement of Work too! LOL.

On the one hand, I am excited about getting a nice new kitchen (no appliances yet but maybe next year) but on the other hand, I am worried about spending so much money in this economy. And yet, I am considering getting new lights for the kitchen as well. And you know how one thing leads to another and now I am thinking perhaps a new rug and a new dining table???? Yes, I am a VERY complicated man and I sometimes don't know how I process/justify stuff. Any how, one thing I am certain is that all these other "stuff" can be purchased piece-meal and does not need to all come at the same time -- space out the spending a little bit. So . . . work starts Monday. I am in the process of moving things out of the way AND decluttering. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kitchen Remodel

I am ready to sign a contract. Got three bids, went through numerous permutation about what to do and what not to do, seen a gazillion granite samples, backsplash tiles, faucets, sinks, etc. etc. So, now, I will sign the contract with the selected company and then pick out the granite and take it from there.

Countertop -- Granite -- Tan Brown (I want to select the exact slab)
Backsplash -- Glass tile -- combination of Tan, Red, White and Bronze.
Faucet -- Moen -- with the pull out sprayer
Sink -- Black Composite Granite from Home Depot
Garbage Disposal -- Insinkerator

I am also having new cabinets put in for extra storage. It's like buying a new place all over again. I am excited. Still have to select light fixtures, wall colors, etc. etc.
Sorry -- haven't posted anything in a LONG time. I guess I really did not have that much to talk about. In any case, this summer in Chicago is quite different. It's been really cool and the weather in July has not broken 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Anyway, 2 new things going on in my life -- I am remodeling the kitchen in my condo and I am taking a pottery class at a Art Studio. I will update the blog with updates on the kitchen remodel and also progress with the pottery class (maybe pictures too?)