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Jane Street Clayworks: Looking behind at ’12, looking ahead at ’13

Thank you for reading Jane Street Clayworks during 2012. You give meaning to what I do here and without you this blog would be a completely solo venture. While the numbers have yet to be crunched with Google Analytics, I’ll soon will be able to announce which posts were the year’s favorites. This will be helpful, as I want to know what you liked best during 2012, so I can tailor more coverage to your tastes. Speaking of which, we’ve entered our third year and it is my fond hope that you continue enjoying Jane Street Clayworks in 2013!

Over the year, I learned much more about social media and the upshot is that the blog went through a major transition. I created an Etsy shop, Facebook business page and connected them to my blog. I updated my LinkedIn page and connected it, too. The learning curve was very steep, at times, and it took me months of studying and experimenting. Thank goodness for YouTube and the Dummies books series! I don’t know what I would’ve done without them. Seminars through Small Business BC were invaluable and I have yet to implement everything I’ve learned. Of course, having a new iMac and Dragon voice dictation program makes all the difference, as well as switching to a vertical mouse, which is easy on the wrist. I began developing a new logo several months ago and will be completing work on it as soon as I’m up and running with my new Photoshop Elements program. I’m also test driving a new blog theme and my ‘identity package’ will be soon be complete and the look cohesive.

Blog content also went through transitions in 2012. The news agenda had been fairly regimented, with set coverage on specific days of the week. I changed that, dropped news and workshop coverage near the midpoint of the year. I will incorporate a new version of this later in the spring, maybe in a monthly format. Less locale coverage meant a broader appeal. Because I was distracted by getting up to speed with social media, I was not able to devote nearly as much time to blogging. There were times when I could only post a photo or re-post a favorite article run in the past. Now, I am back on task and must simply keep the plates spinning….

The year 2013 will bring many more changes. Last year, I ran some ideas past my “particular friends,” as Jane Austen would say, and they very much liked what these ideas. To start with, the blog jingle, “exploring ceramics and creativity” will be changed to reflect the makeover. For the duration, I will keep the name to Jane Street Clayworks because of the established of SEO connections.

Next, will be broadening of focus. Writing about ceramics, pottery and sculpture continues to delight and coverage of these areas won’t change. New areas of focus will include the following:

  • fine craft —  examples: master woodworkers, the origin of craft guilds, etc.
  • fine art — examples: individual artists, styles, movements, and techniques
  • writing — examples: specific authors, genres, pieces.
  • social media — examples: experiential pieces, trends, relationship to art
  • reviewing — art exhibitions, books, movies, etc.
  • Science and philosophy will not be out of bounds, either.
Lienzos_exposicion_Kitaj

Series of three paintings by RB Kitaj, 243.8 x76, 2 cm, The Arabist, The Greek, The Spanish scholar. By L. A. GARCÍA (elpais.com) via Wikimedia

In short, I will write about what appeals and continue to work with the foundation: ceramics. I’ll start slowly and will storyboard with you in mind at all times. The new focus won’t dominate the blog, so it will still be a recognizable and familiar resource. I have been itching to write about certain things, though, and will give myself leave to do it if I think it’ll interest you. I want to acquaint or reacquaint you with certain works. The first artist to be featured will be R.B. Kitaj, too little known and too little appreciated.

The year 2013 will be great fun at Jane Street Clayworks and you are all welcome to come on board because we’re about to embark on a most amazing journey! Happy New Year!!

Cheers!

— Jan

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Good Impressions Part 1: Bisqued Clay Stamps

Excavation of the Earth Lodge in Ocmulgee National Monument, Macon, Georgia, USA – Original caption: Early stage in (archeological) excavation of the ceremonial earthlodge at Ocmulgee. Date early 1930s. Source: Works Progress Administration

Stamps have been used to decorate pottery for millennia. Recently, I read about ancient paddle stamps on a website about the Ocmulgee National Monument in the southern U.S. It was first thought that the pottery found was American Indian in origin, from the Mississippian Culture. However, telltale signs revealed that designs were not North American. “This pottery has such close parallels at a like early period in northeastern Asia that many students believe it may have been brought here by direct migration, though naturally over a period of generations. Its chief characteristic is the roughening of its surfaces with the marks of twisted cords and somewhat later with those made by a plaited basketry fabric. ” Stamps at the Ocmulgee site are in the form of wooden paddles. The National Park Service site says “The paddle itself may have been carved with simple straight grooves, or it may have been wrapped with a thong or smooth bit of plant fiber such as honeysuckle vine.” Click here to see a photo of the wooden stamps they found and photographs of shards showing impressions from stamping (lower down).

This Series will take a look at all forms of stamping to create textures on clay. We will focus on ways to make impressions on clay manually. What we’ll look at: types of stamps, materials with which to make stamps, and how to use stamps. You can’t fully predict what the final results will look like based on the stamp alone; there is an element of chance. But, with practice, you can achieve reliable results.

Bisqued Stamps

Hand Stamp some are cylinder shaped with stamps carved on the end, others are cubes…with stamps on one or all sides. Hand stamps create a single mark when pressed on clay. The cylinders seem more ergonomic to me and they would definitely be easier to use for people with arthritis. Clay Stamps‘ Etsy shop carries carved clay stamps in cylinder form. The method of carving your design is the same for either form and here is a tutorial that shows you how to make cube-shaped stamps: click here.

Roller Stamp This stamp is used like a rolling pin; it has texture over the surface of the a cylinder that is either smaller solid ones or larger hollow stamps. In this video, a potter also demonstrates how to make and use this type of stamp.

Stamp Designs Of course, before you begin, you need to have a working idea. If you are fresh out of ideas and need inspiration, go to a scrapbook store and look at the rubber stamps. What would like nice in clay and how you might alter what you see? Another idea is to search through the design series from Dover. Or go to your local library to find books on design or individual subjects, flora and fauna. Or you could research designs by culture. For instance, the Mayans used beautiful handmade stamps on their pottery…



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Progress Report for Jane Street Clayworks

W & H Sch grandfather clock face 2

Progress Report meets Father Time: The face of a W & H Sch grandfather clock at the Marines’ Memorial Hotel in San Francisco. By BrokenSphere via Wikimedia Commons

Oh, yes, I’ve too many irons in the fire. Add to that the fact that I’m not a multi-tasker! But, soon, soon, my I’ll finish my tasks. Today, I’m posting the new blog banner… It’s a little darker than the version on my Etsy site. I’ll tinker and decide which I like best… When my logo’s done (currently on the back burner), I’ll pop it into the various photo slots now filled with the stacked letters. I remind myself that if I continue to be patient and keep plodding along, it’ll all be done soon:

Progress Report:

  • Facebook biz page, in progress
  • LinkedIn page, need to update
  • Logo, in progress
  • Other monetization, in progress
  • Begin making artwork again, when everything else is done

A friend and I joined forces and have been holding each other accountable with bi-monthly meetings. We chart the progress of our respective online projects and have fun, too. We spell out our progress reports when we meet and send our ‘to do’ lists to each other between times. I must make mine out and send it…I received hers and must reciprocate…. Since we’ve started being accountable this way, I am amazed at how much I’ve accomplished. It’s easy to procrastinate and twiddle thumbs by oneself, but when you have an accountability buddy system, it’s grand. It is sometimes easy to let ourselves down, but we don’t want to let another down, especially if we’re committed to the process. A practically fool-proof method! More changes will become apparent sooner than later, as a result… 🙂

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Open Studio Update

Specimen of the typeface Georgia, Jim Hood, via Wikimedia Commons

BLOG: Good news! The Georgia font has been restored; the code is set on the main template! I am so happy about this I could jig! Next up is restoring slide shows. If you are looking at an article that has no graphics whatsoever, it is very likely it is missing the accompanying slide show. I will sort this problem out next. While I miss daily blogging very much (boo hoo), this break has given me the time I need to make crucial changes. Soon I will finish setting up adjunct sites that have yet to go viral, my Facebook page and Etsy site. My progress with my Etsy storefront continues. Right now, I’m at the postal package stage: figuring out rates for the different pieces I will be offering. Behind the scenes busy work, but important.

Northern Lights tile which came out of the kiln last week

STUDIO: Yesterday, I picked up finished tiles from the arts centre. Very pleased with the Northern Lights tiles. Each one is different and I no longer wonder how I am going to achieve the effect I want. Also, the black glaze is translucent enough to delineate trees and ground and the aurora looks real. Yippee! On another note, I wasn’t happy at all with the escutcheons. It would have been better had I not applied the results of my last glaze sample to the lot, as the glaze bled terribly. Back to the drawing board. Last night, I researched underglaze pencils, Choxils, and underglaze pens. I’ve used underglaze pencils before but it’s been years… That or underglaze watercolorsAmaco offers them, as does Duncan and Chrysanthos, Minnesota and Spectrum, a Canadian company. There are many other companies, too… I will also read Robin Hopper’s article entitled “Drawn to Surface: How to Make and Use Underglaze Pencils, Crayons, Pens, and Trailers.” I’ll talk with my Open Studio colleague, Nan, too, as she’s been using Amaco watercolor underglazes and is our Underglaze Queen. I believe the answer to my escutcheon tile ‘problem’ can be addressed with these specialty products and my goal is to find a ‘look’ I can replicate successfully. I originally wanted a watercolor brush stroke effect…. My budget is a factor, too, as I can’t order them all. Wouldn’t that be heavenly? Over the holidays the centre closes, so I want to lay the groundwork for projects before that time and have much to do this week. Does that sound familiar (smile)?

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