Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

Water Lilies In Late July

Kenilworth is well worth a visit. Started as an area of reflection after the Civil War, cheap swamp land allowed a vet to purchase and start growing lilies. Eventually he and his daughter planted many different types that are on display in around 10 large ponds on the Anacostia River in Washington DC.

The stunning beauty of the flowers in this park is unreal. Plus, that it is in north eastern DC and that I had never heard of it add to the mystical nature of the environment.

It is not only water lilies that one will encounter above and below show additional flora that grow in the shallow ponds. The combination of different blossoms adds interest to the mellow walk around the pools.

No, I have no idea what these different plants are, but walking among them was a wonderful adventure that I was able to enjoy with my Mom. I’m glad we had this chance to hang out and spend a few moments amongst these beauties.

It was crowded on the Saturday we chose as a festival was taking place, but I’m sure there are times earlier or late in the day when it is less busy. This was only my second time to the park. The first was in mid-late June and the lilies were only budding; no blooms yet. So, I’d say late June to late July are the times to go. I may go on August 20th to check it out again as I would like to show my niece this place and see if the blooms are still full.

These larger lilies are a type of lotus. Look at the seed pods and leaves as they are just as cool as the blooms.

It is incredible as you walk among the ponds. You never know what you will find. I brought my dog and he loved it as well, though it was a little hot for him.

Here a dragonfly took a rest just as I walked by.

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

Back to New Mexico

It was time to go back

There comes a time when you need to revisit things and that is just how I thought when I planned my last vacation. I wanted to see old friends and walk the places that had made me the happiest. So, I went back to New Mexico to eat good food, hang with friends and walk amongst the American Southwest and its amazing geology and stunning landscape.

We walked the Rio Grande down at the Bosque in Albuquerque. It is always a good experience to revisit the river. What a significant part of New Mexico and as well as a big part of my interaction there. There is so much to do and see that involves the river and don’t forget how important water is in a desert land.

The Fiery Food Festival: Yes, it is true that his was the main event of my trip to New Mexico. I walked Sandia Pueblo Casino and ate burning hot chili samples until my head exploded and my tastebuds didn’t accept the difference between beer and corn chips. As always good companionship and burning hot sauce was a great combination. I will always cherish going to the Fiery Food Festival. It was a yearly endeavor that promoted good times in New Mexico.

Tsankawi in Bandelier National Monument was another highlight. I wandered the ancient ruin and tread in the footsteps of another time. The day was beautiful and the landscape amazing. I have only been there a couple of times but it was well worth the effort. The cave dwellings are epic.

Not only can you see the how and where people lived, but you experience a time shift that puts you in their landscape. You see the craftmanship of creating livable space and surrounding areas where they grew their food and hunted for survival for thousands of years.

Centuries of walking on soft stone cut deep grooves.

The low road to Taos lets you pass through many environments and ecosystems, but this spot has always been a favorite. To some, just a barren hill, but I love the religious iconography placed upon it and the graves in front.

Spanish influence can be seen in many ways in New Mexico, but I picked this cross as Catholicism is everywhere. On the streets, promoted in festivals and in the museums you see the symbols.

Though an unknown mountain to many, San Antonito just south of the CO border is my favorite mountain. It is beautiful in many ways, but I like how it stands by itself. Powerful, peaceful and ready for life.

Abiquiu is such an amazing place. While I was there a blizzard arrived and the complete white out sent me packing back to Santa Fe. I can see why Georgia O’Keefe moved there and spent so much time making art work.

There is so much beauty in the environment; in the wild of New Mexico. You can also find it in the towns. Above was in Cerrillos, but all the different towns have such history and dynamic spaces it is difficult not to see beauty. Below is in Taos. I enjoyed pizza, great art, unexpected wildlife and some native perspective while I was there.

New Ceramics from the Varina Woodkiln

These pots were fired in a 2 chamber woodkiln by Tree Hill Pottery. They fire with revitalized wood scraps and logs found in the Richmond, VA area. The kiln fires from cone 6 to cone 11 in oxidation and reduction depending on the area of the kiln. The following work represents my glaze tests in different locations of the wood/salt chamber of the kiln.

Magnesia glaze on the inside with 3% iron as a colorant. This cup was once fired in a wood/salt atmosphere to cone 10. Cup was hand built over a wood hump mold with texture added to the outside by pressing and paddling with hand made and found wooden sticks.

Bourbon, Sake, Tea Cup 4″ x3″x 4″ $45.00
Email hardwickhandmade@gmail.com for orders

Wood/Salt fired cup with woodash celadon glaze in the Chinese Longuan celadon tradition.

Bourbon, Sake, Tea Cup 4″ x3″x 4″ $45.00
Email hardwickhandmade@gmail.com for orders

Trans Clear Pumice Glaze that can be found on Glazy.org This glaze is high in Calcium Carbonate and goes clear green where thick in reduction atmospheres over 1260 degrees cooled quickly. In an oxidized atmosphere this glaze goes clear/yellow. This cup is clear/yellow on the inside and clear/green on the outside indicating 2 different atmospheres at different times in teh firing.

Bourbon, Sake, Tea Cup 4″ x3″x 4″ $45.00
Email hardwickhandmade@gmail.com for orders

VC Matte base. This cup has crystals from dark brown to green. The clay body looks reduced, but the interior of the cup looks oxidized and is a buttery yellow. My guess is the outside is showing carbon trapping from early in the firing producing the dark brown color. The green color may be coming from the salt in the kiln, but more tests are necessary.

Bourbon, Sake, Tea Cup 4″ x3″x 4″ $45.00
Email hardwickhandmade@gmail.com for orders

Fake Ash glaze is darker and more brown on the exterior. Interior is showing more rivulets with more yellow coloration. Glaze has over 40% calcium carbonate, but has not run much. So, very possible the temp was not at cone 10. Surface is dry, but mature.

Bourbon, Sake, Tea Cup 4″ x3″x 4″ $45.00
Email hardwickhandmade@gmail.com for orders

This is one of many tests for a blue celadon. It is showing a blue/green cast, but glaze needs to be much thicker. Glaze analysis was pulled from Nigel Wood’s book Chinese Glazes. Next firing will be same unaltered glaze with thicker application. Slight crystallization is evident.

Bourbon, Sake, Tea Cup 4″ x3″x 4″ $45.00
Email hardwickhandmade@gmail.com for orders

Ceramic Vessels by Matthew Hardwick

Current sculptural vessels by Matthew Hardwick are on display now at Black Iris Gallery- 321 W. Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23220. Opening Reception is March 6th from 5:30pm -10pm with accompaning ambient guitar by Hunter Duke.

This work explores time signatures left by textural paddles and sticks that are thrust and beaten into the clay over wooden and bisque molds that are carved with chainsaws, grinders, chisels and knives. The texture left by these tools is a physical manifestation of time; an interpretation of Matthew’s mortality.

The clay bodies are new and were formulated to show off flashing from the atmospheric kilns used to obtain them. The glazes create surfaces that contrast and highlight the surface texture.

The show is open through the month of March with a reception tomorrow, Friday March 6th and a closing reception on March 27th, 8-11pm to correspond with NCECA. This is a venue originated event in conjunction with NCECA and is on the bus tour during the last week of March.

The show was a success and thanks for all the support from those that attended the March 6th reception. The 2nd reception and NCECA was canceled, unfortunately, but it was a great experience to have my work up for a month and have locals get a chance to see more of my work.

Matthew Hardwick

Oahu Vacation

Sunset in Waiamae
The sun burst through the clouds
I love the sun spots left on the water

Yes, I made it back to paradise.

Oahu, North Shore

I didn’t know if it would ever happen. I’ve not been in Hawaii for 8 or 9 years.

Sunset, Waiamae

It was uncanny how the sun smiled upon us for 2 weeks. Only 2 days of rain,

Just north of Makaha Beach on the west side of Oahu

You can see the surfers and homeless in tents on the beach in the background. A dream come true…

USS Arizona
USS Arizona at Pearl harbor

No, it isn’t all fun and games in Hawaii. There are some serious aspects that need addressing. Pearl Harbor is a good reality check.

But there is always the sun. The sun keeps smiling in Hawaii.

Look at the sun as it pierces this wave

The sun is not alone out there, but it is dramatic. The water is just as beautiful.

But it is always back to the sun…

Flashing Clay Bodies

I am currently searching for a deep red/orange clay body that flashes this color in atmospheric firings to Cone 8 and above. I have mixed roughly 20 tests and made cups out of them and fired them in Soda and Wood/Salt kilns to Cone 8 and Cone 10 respectively. Here are my findings.

It seems that red/orange flashing is promoted by small amounts of iron chemically incorporated in high temperature clay and dry material ingredients introduced in the clay body.

What Parmelee suggests in his book Ceramic Glazes that clay bodies higher in silica will need higher percentages of iron compared to clay bodies higher in alumina, stays true. Though, iron percentages stay below 3% on a whole.

Also, it seems that the silica/alumina ratio should stay below 4. The current wood kiln has tests that are below 2 (showing a high alumina content)

My tests have 2 different realms. One direction is a grolleg/PV body and the other is a Neph Sy/silica body. Both directions are currently using high alumina materials.

These are the tests in a cone 8/9 Soda Firing
4
clay body test #4
5
Clay body test #5
6
Clay body test #6

These 3 tests were fired in a first firing on a clay slab to ensure they would not melt down with higher than normal percentages of flux I was a little worried. I believe the firing had too much reduction to promote the flashing and too much soda to allow flashing in some areas. Cup number 6 has engulfed in soda, so no visible flashing is seen except on the foot of the cup.

My belief is that too thick a layer of flux (could be wood ash, soda in this case or salt) will stop the development or cover teh development of flashing. Also, I think that an oxidation atmosphere during 700 degree to 900 degree Celcius is neccesary for red/orange flashing, though I’m unsure if this needs to happen in firing or cooling or both.

This cup is blah blah blay

These 2 tests have 35% Mica with different types of silica mesh in them. Notice the excess iron in the mica has colored them brown as if they were made from EPK or were a dark stoneware, even though they are mainly grolleg kaolin. The silica mesh made no difference in the color. They were fired in different parts of the kiln.

These two tests have lower flux, but more silica and less mica and the color is very light almost a pastel pink. I believe the iron should have been increased to counter the added silica. It seems that 4-5% iron material needs to be added to get a deeper color.

Soda firing

A friend let me use his soda kiln to fire my work last weekend. Here is the open kiln as I saw it a couple days after the firing. The firing was a little cold, but I learned alot from it and hope to use many of the pieces in my shows this coming spring.

Hottest part of the kiln. Bottom shelf – front about cone 9 down with heavy reduction

What I learned the most was how my glazes work in soda. Some did not turn out how I wanted them to, but some came out great. My core 3 glazes looked great and I can’t wait to use them again. there were maybe three other test glazes that I will mix up again. Also, there were several glazes that did not work and I hope to sieve them to get the materials to mix better in the firing and perhaps work next time.

Middle shelf front- About cone 8 down with medium reduction, but some carbon trapping.

I’m looking forward to firing soda again, though I dont’ know when that will be, but I hope to do some tests again soon to see if sieving a glaze will improve how it looks.

Me before I unloaded the kiln

Freer/Renwick Gallery permanent collections

The images are from the Freer/Renwick Galleries on 2 separate occasions in September 2019. I have seen the pieces in the Freer a million times as it is my favorite museum, but this is only the second time I’ve been to the Renwick. Both have amazing pieces that I have not photographed or seen deep in their archives. I wish they would rotate their collections more often.

Michael Sherrill Retrospective at the Renwick Gallery

Chance led me to the Renwick Gallery in Washington DC this week where I went through the exhibit of Michael Sherrill’s work. It was amazing. He has moved his focus from utilitarian work thrown on a wheel to ceramic, metal, glass sculptural pieces. All were done with explicit detail and professional appearance. In speaking with him he was modest, contemplative and completely involved in his creative ideas.

Here are some images:

National Gallery of Art

Pic in front of the 3 dimensional painting by Jean Dubuffet
This is not only one of my favorite images, but an inspiration to most of my artwork
Jean Dubuffet, Combat Beard

I visited the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC this weekend and had a great time looking at the artwork. I only spent an hour there and another one in the Hirshhorn and though, I enjoyed every minute of it, it wasn’t enough time to see and admire all the art work I wanted to check out.

At the National Gallery= East End
Olidon Redon- I don’t remember the title, but a great work

Recently, I have been interested and researching Dadaism and Surrealism and found great works of art representing both of these artistic periods. I pictured a few of them in this article, but there were 2 Max Ernst works that I am very interested in. they are in fact, stuck in my head right now. His work is distubing, but amazing at the same time.

The texture and natural feel to his paintings are impressive
Jean Dubuffet

What type of artwork is inspiring you nowadays?

Matt