Welcome to my blog and thanks for reading. I post as often as I can listing upcoming events, interesting projects I am working on and some tips or two on using my favourite material - clay! If there is something you would like me to blog about, please send me a note. Please visit my website for more images of my work and an updated listing of events and happenings - http://www.taralynnefranco.com/

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Website - www.taralynnefranco.com

It is official ... I have registered my domain name and now am the proud owner of www.taralynnefranco.com. I have put a basic website up using the software provided by godaddy.com which for some reason won't link from this blog - very strange. Have a peek and let me know what you think. Cheers

Friday, September 26, 2008

New Designs for Fall

It is fall and I am officially back in the studio and excited to get working on new pieces and new designs as well as old favourites. I will be working with black clay and white slip testing a new series starting with mugs. I am also launching my new line of pendants that are made with 3 types of clay that are marbled, cut, stretched and polished, finished with a stirling silver findings and chains. Some of these new pendants along with my white porcelain ones will be at the Art Gallery of Ontario when they re-open in November as well as through my studio and a few other retail outlets.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stephen Harper ... "ordinary people don't support the arts" and neither does he

It was easy to figure out the theme of my first blog post completion of my tile. It came to me sometime yesterday when I first heard a sound bite of Stephen Harper in Saskatchewan yesterday describing artists as the "social elite" subsidized by taxpayers dollars. He was defending his announced cuts in arts spending and said "I think when ordinary people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people ... at a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren't high enough ... I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people". Hmmm ... I am not sure what arts "galas" he is referring to, but I can assure Mr. Harper that artist are not the social elite, they are some of the lowest income earning individuals and that they, and the people who enjoy their art be it visual, performance or otherwise, are also "ordinary people". I agree that we cannot live beyond our means, but come on ... what is he thinking. Perhaps in a year there are one or two galas as the one he is describing and guess what, the rich people that are attending it are not the artist, they are the people that come out to these events and support the artists by just being there, and with luck, buying their work. Many artists who are self-supporting have to work multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. Harper went on to talk about how they they are "listening to ordinary people ... not people who work in ivory towers, but people who actually work on the street". Funny, I don't know any artists or arts organizations who live in ivory towers ... perhaps he is confused and is thinking about his friends in the corporate world who he would rather support. And just to set the record straight regarding his comments that funding to Canadian Heritage has gone up 8%, this department does more than fund the arts. According to the Ontario Crafts Council, the Conservative government has chosen to cut 13.7 million in funding for the arts through the Canadian Heritage and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. These cuts, mainly to curb spending on international touring and travel of Canadian art and artists in all disciplines, including visual arts and fine craft, affect the entire cultural sector. George Stroumboulopoulis had a great rant on this subject on his show last night. If there was any question in my mind about who I am voting for, I can tell you for sure now, who I am not going to be supporting.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

Yes .... my Hands on History "tile", which still needs a title, is finally complete and delivered as of 10:30am this morning. What a thrill to be finished this commission that has consumed my mind, my creativity and my time for what seems like a very long time. It was definitely a worthwhile venture as it had me stretch my creative and technical muscles. I had a bit of performance anxiety getting started ... but once I started the assembling process I was able to get on a roll. It did however take many, many hours to glaze the pieces as this was new territory for me with so many different shapes and elements to work with - some with image transfer, some with decals, and then tons of different textured pieces in various sizes and shapes in both porcelain and white earthenware. I don't want to give away what the final piece looks like (there is a one day opening on November 4th at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramics in Toronto which all are invited to), but here is one last process photo of the frames with the grey underglaze. I didn't end up using the pieces I had put underglaze colour on, so despite thinking I had way too many pieces to work with, I didn't have THAT many. I am very pleased with the result despite some technical problems with the firing of the pieces that required some creative repair work, that in the end, improved the pieces .... necessity IS the mother of invention I guess. Now I am back to work getting ready for my busy fall season. Now that this is done, what should I write about????? Suggestions???

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yes, I made enough

Once I unloaded yesterday's bisque and saw what I had, I realized that I did in fact make enough "parts" - probably enough to make 3 x what I need to make. The extras will be interesting to add to other pieces in the future, just as I have slipped in pieces from another special piece into some of my regular work. Here is funny little video complete with my commentary of my work in progress. After tonight's cone 6, two more firings to go and I will be finished.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

countdown ... the final firings

I have finished making all the "parts" of the tile and am just waiting for the kiln to cool so I can unload it and then bisque fire the last set of parts and frames. I wonder if I made enough parts, however there comes a time when one just needs to move on, so I will have to wait and see. Next it will be glazing and firing the cone 6 parts and finally assembling all the pieces together and firing the final tile components to 04. My emotions are mixed from a bit of worry - how will they work out, will they crack, will I have enough parts - to the excitement of seeing the final product and seeing if there is something in there that I can use to enhance my work - and of course relief, that it will finally be done. I have missed working on my regular work and am anxious to do that and get my inventory up for orders and for the fall holiday season.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Guelph Pottery Festival - The Five Pound Flower Challenge

I spent this past weekend in Guelph at the Arboretum for the Pottery and Sculpture Festival. It was great to reconnect with friends in the ceramics community that I only see at these types of events. Organized by Bunny Safari, this event included the Pottery Olympics featuring events such as the tallest 5lb cylinder, longest pulled handle, most voluptuous pot thrown blindfolded with prizes donated by Tucker's Pottery Supplies. I couldn't get anyone to do a hand-building challenge with me, so one of the potters challenged me to make a 5lb flower out of paper clay. And here it is. I have also just joined the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge Eh! You can follow my progress and my reads on this blog.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The deadline approaches ....

I have been working away on my Hands on History tile and now have all 8 "frames" (plus a second set of 8 back-ups) built and drying. I made patterns for each of the frames using roofing paper to allow me to build them from wet slabs of clay as opposed to waiting for the clay to become leather-hard. This photo shows the roofing paper on top of a large slab waiting to to be cut and assembled and the second photo shows an assembled frame as well as some sides of a frame mitre cut and ready to be assembled. Today I will shift my focus towards continuing to make all of the "parts" - those elements inspired by the holdings of the Archives on the Bertram family. These textures and images will complete the final pieces. It has been an interesting and educational journey, from the research, the testing and finally the making. I am looking forward to seeing the final product and how this idea is ultimately transformed in the kiln.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A morning at the Museum

Today I visited the Dundas Museum and Archives with clay and plastic wrap in hand. The purpose of today's visit was to take clay pressings of the collection of medals from the Bertram family. These pressings will become molds that I will use to create elements for the final tile. The Museum has a great collection medals the family received including medals the Bertrams received from the Rose Society of Ontario for the beautiful rose garden they maintained at their home. The collection also includes the Order of Canada Medal received by Dr. John Bertram Stirling in 1969, numerous awards received by Henry Bertram from the Ontario Rifle Association and awards won at various agricultural fairs in Canada and as far as Paris France.
There were a few members of the Bertram family that served in WW1 and WW2, some of whom died in battle and their medals are carefully preserved in the Museum's collection.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labour Day Testing

Labour day was truly a day of labour in the studio as I completed some paperwork and then set to work on the next series of tests. I finished my work day at about 10pm or so in the evening, loading up the kiln to bisque fire overnight. I decided to do a few more tests with what I have now discovered are "underglazes" rather than glazes, painting them on leather hard tiles and then placing the laser decals over them. I am trying to determine how I might incorporate some subtle colour into the final tile. I also spent some time later in the evening planning the layout of the "parts" of the final tile which will a series of "boxes" that will be approximately 30" x 30" when hung. I have been drawing these out for a while now in my sketchbook, trying to figure out the most desirable combination of sizes of boxes. I then used roofing paper to cut out the pattern to scale so I could examine it. This was my first attempt. I recall hearing a critique by Steven Heinemann that when making pots (or when looking at other people's work), sometimes you need to take the piece and turn it on its side or upside down and examine its new form. I photographed the first layout from above and then walked around and looked at it as if it was turned 90 degrees, photographed it again and found this was a more desirable layout. As I continued to look at this new layout I began to see a better connection with the theme of the tile itself - history - and how our history is often seen in the form of bricks and mortar - what this layout subtly referenced.
Once I saw this, the creative ideas began rolling out and I came up with a great idea for the narrow box near the center of the composition which I believe will really add to the overall design. Imagine if I had stopped working earlier? Now, the building begins ....