Looking Surprised

A new ceramics session started and ended. The backlog of pieces waiting to be fired grows. This is not the fault of the kiln tech but rather a fault in the computer component that regulates time and temperature. A new “mother board” was ordered and finally installed. Which due to COVID was a long drawn out wait. So we are now finally getting pieces back. I had forgotten what I had done so it was all a big surprise!

The first orb is Umbellosphaera irregularis. This coccolith is from the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. I fashioned it from a white stoneware clay. I used Grape glaze and red iron oxide stain to apply the accents. This orb is slightly larger than my usual 3″, measuring 4.5″ in diameter. It reminds me of a hibiscus or Rose of Sharon flower. Except it is always in bloom.

The second orb I retrieved from the latest firing is Ophiaster reductus. This coccolith is found in the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka. I glazed the white stoneware body with a new color called Megan’s Blue. This glaze is a pale translucent blue that works well to accent details. It is similar to the once popular but now banned Chun Blue (due to the use of barium in the glaze recipe). This one is food safe not that anyone would attempt to eat off one of my orbs. It measures a little smaller at 2.75″ in diameter.

47 thoughts on “Looking Surprised

    1. Hi Bonnie! I have not seen these in person – I don’t have access to an electron microscope. I look at the images on Planktonnet which is a repository for images related to plankton which these are all types of… Anyway, I bought some cool candle stands at Goodwill (the kind with little saucers with a spike in the middle). I cut off the spike and am able to display multiple orbs in a much smaller space. The one in my computer room has 4 levels and takes up just over 5″ as it spirals up. I found 3 others that are in my craft room. I have 2 in the stairwell on a ledge that hold 8 each. And my favorite is in the living room – it looks like a big spring that tapers to a point. It is about as big around as a dinner plate and holds 10 orbs – I put 10 green ones on it for the holidays and it looks like a Christmas tree! I used to have them everywhere but decided to put some in storage after the last art show. I had packed them up for the show and afterwards I just didn’t unpack. Instead they are in the basement stored away until I decide to rotate the ones I have out…

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    2. Hi Bonnie! I have not seen these in person – I don’t have access to an electron microscope. I look at the images on Planktonnet which is a repository for images related to plankton which these are all types of… Anyway, I bought some cool candle stands at Goodwill (the kind with little saucers with a spike in the middle). I cut off the spike and am able to display multiple orbs in a much smaller space. The one in my computer room has 4 levels and takes up just over 5″ as it spirals up. I found 3 others that are in my craft room. I have 2 in the stairwell on a ledge that hold 8 each. And my favorite is in the living room – it looks like a big spring that tapers to a point. It is about as big around as a dinner plate and holds 10 orbs – I put 10 green ones on it for the holidays and it looks like a Christmas tree! I used to have them everywhere but decided to put some in storage after the last art show. I had packed them up for the show and afterwards I just didn’t unpack. Instead they are in the basement stored away until I decide to rotate the ones I have out…

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    1. Thanks Michelle! I like them both. The top photo seems a little darker than the orb is in person. I was very happy with the Megan’s Blue glaze but the next time I’m going to dip instead of paint it on. That way I can get a more even coverage but it turned out pretty anyway! So glad you liked that one…

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        1. Michel pointed out that I should put a scale or size indicator on the posts… My ceramic orbs are about 3.5″ to 2.5″ and generally they are representative of the coccoliths that measure ~70 – 90 microns across (a red blood cell is about 7 microns so these things are pretty tiny)!

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          1. that sounds too small to make such intricate detail … but really I have no idea unless you place a pen or button or something beside it. Dimensions are not my thing 😦

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            1. Ah Kate – the ceramic pieces are about the size of an orange. The coccoliths they are modeled on are too small to see with the naked eye. I will post the photos (electron scanning microscope images) with the next ones I post…

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  1. I enjoyed your comment telling how and where you display your art. I’ve often wondered what you did with them. I’m reminded of my mom who loved to crochet. She quickly ran out of uses for her many afghans and turned to making bikini tops, blouses, bedspreads, and anything anyone was crazy enough to request. Like your orbs, they were one of a kind and sometimes beautiful, but in the end, many wound up in storage, awaiting their turn for display.

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    1. When I started I was making orbs the size of volley balls. I soon ran out of room. I was fortunate to have sold about six of them and then turned to the smaller orbs about the size of an orange or smaller out of necessity. Every once in awhile I gift one to a friend but mostly I sell them. And no, I don’t have an Esty site, it is all word of mouth…

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  2. When you think those coccoliths are ultramicroscopic and shows wonderful structures whom you make a rendition with art.
    I suggest, Val, you mention the scale . This would me more impressing yet!
    Love ❀
    Michel

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    1. I used to do that Michel. But people still didn’t grasp the difference between what I made and the actual size. It almost made it more difficult so I stopped. But that was on Xanga. Perhaps I should add that next time. A good suggestion!

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    2. I used to do that Michel. But people still didn’t grasp the difference between what I made and the actual size. It almost made it more difficult so I stopped. But that was on Xanga. Perhaps I should add that next time. A good suggestion!

      Like

    1. Thanks! Seems everyone loves that second one! I think it might have something to do with the glaze. We had a glaze that was called “Sell any pot blue” it was such a nice color of blue that almost anything glazed with it would be snatched up. It was a running joke in the studio that if you had a wonky pot you should just glaze it with that blue and it would surely sell!

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    1. Thanks Mama Duck! I enjoy my ceramic creations. I first started way back (20 yrs ago) as a way to relieve stress from my job. Now that I’ve retired the stress is gone but the thrill of creating things in clay remains!

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    2. Thanks Mama Duck! I enjoy my ceramic creations. I first started way back (20 yrs ago) as a way to relieve stress from my job. Now that I’ve retired the stress is gone but the thrill of creating things in clay remains!

      Like

    1. I’m so pleased that you like these orbs. I don’t make my process a secret nor my motivations. I’m so happy that I cultivated a hobby that will continue during my retirement and can be done despite the pandemic…

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