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Baked clay

This time of year — for the next three or four months, in fact — my studio is hot.  Very hot.  Hotter than it is outside, by about five or six degrees, thanks to its translucent acrylic walls and ceiling.

To the right is the actual reading for Wednesday afternoon ( 106.7ºF = 41.50ºC = 314.65ºK) >>

Until the soggy (by desert standards) air of monsoon season arrives next month, the heaving, laboring swamp cooler can knock only about ten degrees off ambient outdoor temp. It also loudly pumps up the humidity in the small space. This means that by early afternoon when the June sun beats down on the transluscent panels of the roof and walls turning my work space into the optimum greenhouse for growing organisms native to the planet Venus, I will be working in 96 degrees and 44% humidity — genuine jungle hell in the desert.

<< tilt-shifted portrait of Three Star Owl studio

To combat this unavoidable Venusian greenhouse effect, I usually limit summer work hours to dawn to mid-day, and, when deadlines press, night-time, when the evap cooler doesn’t have to out-compete the rays of the sun.  After that, I shut the machine off and let the room revert to its natural state of solar oven, until my next work session.

But it’s not so bad: that’s the time when the studio takes on its other role, as a highly efficient dehydrater of wet clay objects, like this quick-drying rattlesnake Beastie Mug >>.

(photos A.Shock)

Posted by Allison on Jun 16th 2011 03:20 pm | 6 Comments
| View art/clay,effigy vessels,three star owl category

6 Responses to “Baked clay”

  1. Robertaon 16 Jun 2011 at 5:46 pm link comment

    We all have our weather “crosses to bear” I am afraid. Here on the east coast we have been deluged with cold, windy, rainy weather. One day is nice and then six days of cold. I had the heat on Monday of this week………sigh.

  2. Allisonon 16 Jun 2011 at 8:56 pm link comment

    Yes, it’s true, no place is perfect — the east and midwest’s chilly season translated into a long, relatively cool spring in the SW. And, these things are relative, too: when I lived in St. Louis, a 96º summer day with only 44% humidity would have seemed a relief from the normal 90% humidity. And no matter what the issue is, we make it work anyway, right?

  3. sueon 21 Jun 2011 at 7:40 am link comment

    is there a danger of things cracking from drying too quickly? (like concrete)

  4. allisonon 22 Jun 2011 at 9:10 am link comment

    Sue, yes indeed, clay objects can dry too fast. This can cause warping or cracking. Judicious use of plastic film helps this, evening out or slowing the drying out of thinner bits. Mugs are particularly prone to going out of round if dried hurriedly!

  5. sueon 23 Jun 2011 at 8:35 pm link comment

    our summer is being foggy so far–good for building with clay I suppose, bad for tomatoes. Nothing growing except the broccoli.

  6. […] the last post I described how summer’s heat changes my creative routine.  The point was not to complain, or to display macho heat-tolerance (or lack of it), but to set up […]

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