Apparently, I fell asleep with clay on the brain, because I woke up just swimming in ideas! First, that I need to make a Tim See "magic box" or two this morning. This is just a lidded plastic bin (like a sterlite tote) with a layer of plaster poured into the bottom. Turns out, if you keep leather-hard clay in this box with cured but damp plaster in the bottom....IT WILL STAY PERFECTLY LEATHER-HARD. Indefinitely workable. Pulled handles forever at the perfect stage for attachment. Porcelain stamp blanks, ready to carve into stamps at a moment's notice.
The part that REALLY kept me awake, though, was realizing that I could make mugs, cover them with slip or underglaze in prep for sgraffito carving, and then store them in the box until someone can get to them. I say someone, because I don't actually want to ruin my nice throwing with decorative ineptitude. Instead, I have another idea, and that's the part that's keeping me awake.
In my last blog entry, I mentioned Dave, who agreed to play trivia with me every weekend. Well, we've been hanging out quite a bit, as you do when you find someone so easy to talk to, right? Anyway, he's not only a very good artist....he also has a very sure hand when it comes to drawing. I think he's a lot like my grandpa - has the ability to see the drawing before it's drawn, and just goes about filling in the lines, you know? So I think he should try his hand at a bit of sgraffito carving on some of my pottery....but I can't run the idea by him yet because it's too early. Highly aggravating. But my mind just keeps running with it, so I'm imagining forms, and what slip colors I'd want used, and how to work around mug handles, and if I should get Emily in on this deal, too.... GAH!!
And THEN, when I manage to shut down the pottery ideas for a bit, my brain just switches over to the other thing that's been occupying it since Sunday - Lever Knitting.
Lever knitting is a very old knitting technique that "cottage industry" producers use to knit very quickly without as much fatigue and repetitive-motion strain. The Yarn Harlot has been working to give the technique a comeback, and my friend Pamela took a class on it at a fiber retreat a week or so ago, and her practice photos intrigued me, so I decided to give it a try.
It involves the use of a static needle, held in place by something other than your hand, leaving the right hand free to only manipulate the yarn using more efficient motions than throwing, and less wrist-action than picking (Continental). So to start, you clamp the end of a long needle under your right armpit, then use the left hand to manipulate the stitches from the right needle into the left one. The yarn is tensioned interestingly around the middle and ring fingers of the right hand, and you use a swinging motion to wrap the yarn for the stitches. And unlike trying to learn continental knitting, purling is just as easy and efficient as knitting, which is what sold me. I hate purling.
Starting learning to knit this way was SUPER awkward. I'm not used to tensioning yarn around my fingers, and I'm not used to working with straight needles, either. I ended up posting videos for Pamela to look at, just to see if I was on the right track....thankfully I was. It's definitely getting better with practice - I sat at the bar and knitted for a bit while hanging out with Dave, and the next morning chilled at the coffee shop where he works and put in a couple more hours of practice. I'm definitely faster now than I was doing non-tensioned throwing.
Progress isn't too shabby - apart from a couple unintentional yarn-overs, I'm doing just fine, I think!
So that's what I've been up to, and now it's time to get kids up and bundled off to school. Then I can get some plaster mixed up and poured, and can go down to the coffee shop to gabble excitedly at Dave about pottery carving, and practice lever knitting for a bit. Have a great morning, everyone!
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