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Thursday, December 29, 2016

My Christmas Card for this Year


Here's the painting I used for my Christmas card each year.  I was going through and old magazine and ran across a photo of two squirrels.  In the photo, both squirrels were on a log that was standing on end.  The squirrel on the left was on the side of the log and the squirrel on the left was on the cut end.  Their paws were in slightly different positions.

I imagined it rotated to the right to the composition you see here.  So I changed the paws so that they would work on the branches and added the mistletoe for a holiday setting.  I actually sent out two different cards from the same painting - the landscape orientation above and the portrait orientation you see below.


I began with a pencil drawing then added acrylic and finally a bit of ink.  I spattered the snow on with a toothbrush.  Since the snow has just started, it hasn't accumulated yet on the branches.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Completed Goat Icon


I'm very happy with the way this turned out and so is my sister (it was a gift for her).  Plus, after a little trepidation and something of a lost feeling at the beginning, it was a lot of fun.  The original inspiration was the little resin goat at the top that I got at a flea market last year.  Then I saw the photo of the goat in a catalog and was smitten by her sweet face.  The third goat piece was the little acrylic painting I did.


I started to do a collage of magazine pieces behind the photo of the goat but was initially very unhappy with it.  But once I went back over it with slightly tinted gesso to push the whole thing back and subdue the color contrasts I liked it very much.  Then I put the word "capra" - female goat - on and added the little sprigs of foliage by painting them in.  I will use this technique again as I like the aged feeling it gives me.


Since this goat is so cute, how could I resist giving her a rhinestone collar?  That's part of the attraction of collage for me - it's liberating...

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Shelley's Goat Icon


I wanted to make Shelley a little piece of wall art - an icon with a goat theme.  She's been talking about a companion animal for her horse Merlin, and a goat is one possible candidate.

In the photo, I have all the various elements tentatively arranged on the backing (a piece of primed and painted wood) and then I took a photo so I could remember where they all go when I am ready to assemble it.

Most of the elements are polymer clay tiles.  I rolled sheets of polymer clay, then stamped them with a texture and coated them with mica powders.  The little bird tiles along the right edge are polymer clay that I pressed into a mold that I made from an old button.  The little lamb is from a mold made from a small figurine.  The copper-looking rounds are polymer clay from a mold made over an old metal embellishment - the copper mica powder looks so real!  Some of these elements I've had around from past projects.

The bird is a metal stamping.

The round piece at the top is polymer clay with a Swarovski ravoli in the center.  The leaves are also polymer clay - I pressed chrysanthemum leaves into the clay then peeled them off.  Chrysanthemum leaves are small and have pronounced vein structures, but you need to press them into the clay back side down because the veins are bulgier on the undersides.

The dark green tile with the writing says "volubas capram verum dei equum donebant" - "you wanted a goat but the gods gave you a horse."  Latin.

The large goat at the upper right is torn from a catalog.  The goat lower down is a painted I did on Strathmore mixed media paper with acrylic.  There is also a little resin figurine of a goat that will go on the top.  I coated the goat figurine with Ten Seconds Studio's copper emulsion then their patina.

Ready to assemble!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Thirty Little Collages - Bat

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


My daughter was living on the second floor of an old house in a little New Hampshire town the summer she was doing her internship for her MBA.  One night she was awakened by a most bizarre sound - a tapping, as though someone were tapping on the keyboard of her laptop.  Was the Universe sending her a message?  She was unnerved and curious at the same time.  When she got up to look she found a bat moving around rather clumsily on the keyboard.  Then it slipped under the door and out of the flat.  The next day it took quite a search to find and liberate the little invader.

Thirty Little Collages - Wolf Pup

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


Through the ages the sight and sound of wolves has been met with fear.  Now they are a sign of hope as those persecuted animals make little come-backs here and there.  I understand that they are back in Yellowstone and are making inroads elsewhere.  One day I would like to hear the howl of a wild wolf.

Thirty Little Collages - Peccary (a.k.a. Javelina)



This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


When I was in Tuscon I saw a peccary at the Desert Museum.  They are so unattractive - in a conventional sense - that they are actually quite charming.  I found a photo of one standing on its back legs gobbling bird seed from a tray feeder.  I suppose they're like raccoons and squirrels, just looking for a good meal from wherever they can find one.  Sadly, they don't live in this part of California, so I'm unlikely to ever see one in the wild.



Friday, December 16, 2016

Thirty Little Collages - Kestrel (a.k.a. Merlin)



This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


I would frequently see kestrels perching on the phone wires and I became fascinated by these very special birds.  I found specifications, build a kestrel house,, and installed it at the proper height in a black walnut tree near the road by my house.  Sure enough, a pair moved in and before long we were aware of three fledglings.

One day a couple driving by stopped to alert us that a large young bird was in the road.  My husband picked up the wanderer and returned it to its nest box.  But first we got a good look at it and I can tell you that even at that young age, the bird's claws and beak were already those of a professional!

Thirty Little Collages - Sparrow



This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


The humble sparrow's gift is that it is ubiquitous.  No matter where I am, I can pretty much count on its sweet song and joyful ways.  And, even better, they're in flocks.  Their little motions as they hop about from branch to branch is nature's dance.

Thirty Little Collages - Raccoon



This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


Sierra Wildlife Rescue's Squirrel Team, of which I am a proud member, was invited to see a group of four infant raccoons that another team member was rehabilitating.  Of course the first thing I noticed about them was how very cute they were.  But after I got over that intense first impression I noticed a striking aspect of their behavior - that they were constantly fingering every object in sight.  I later learned that the term "raccoon" was derived from the Algonquin for "they touch things."

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Thirty Little Collages - Badger



This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


I am quite proud to have Badger as my primary totem animal.  It's probably irrational since it's just a fall of the cards and not an achievement, but there it is.

Badgers are, to my eye, strikingly beautiful.  But that's not the end of the story.  They have good character too - determined, tenacious, and skilled.  As exhibited by the success of the badger/coyote hunting partnership, they're a great asset to any team - fine animals indeed!

Thirty Little Collages - Coyote



This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


Sometimes at night I hear the coyotes - whole groups of them joining in a chorus of yips, yelps, and howls.  It's a joyful sound, a celebration of life, anticipating the adventures of the coming night.  The sound is a comfort to me.  I am happy in my heart to be, in that moment, so close to the wild.

And sometimes I see them during the day, trotting along in all their glory, giving my soul a lift and driving my dear dog to distraction.

Thirty Little Collages - Wood Rat




This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


There are at least two wood rat nests on my property.  They are large structures of intertwined sticks leaning against the bases of trees.  Sometimes I leave something shiny - like a bottlecap - near one of the nests and it's always gone the next morning.

Last year I rehabbed a young one that my sister found under her bed.  I kept him in a cage in my bathroom for a few weeks and throughout that time her was very active and noisy at night.  And that really disturbed my poor cats' beauty sleep.  After a while I released him.  God with God, little treasure!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Thirty Little Collages - Skunk

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


I have a skunk friend named Peter.  Actually, I should just say that I'm Peter's friend - I don't know if he's mine.

He seems to live on the neighbors' property not far from the fence line, probably down by the bank of the seasonal creek.  I see him amble back and forth from that location to the spot out back where I leave food for him every night.  His favorite treat is the occasional duck egg which he rolls off to a favorite spot to enjoy properly.

Peter's appearances brighten my life.

Thirty Little Collages - Beaver

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


We had been traveling down the stream for some time in the shadows of the thick aspens that lined both banks.  Then the stream took a sharp turn and we found ourselves overlooking a sunny meadow.  Daisies twinkled in the sun, dotting the grass with pinpoints of sparkling light.

A small band of beavers lolled in the warm spring sunlight.  The adults relaxed on the bank, nearly asleep yet with a watchful eye on the young ones who sometimes displayed more curiosity and energy than proved good for them.  It was so quiet that you could hear the whisper of the dragonfly wings.  Even the birds were mostly quiet and at rest in the trees.

Thirty Little Collages - Chipmunk



This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


The ground was covered with fallen leaves, partially obscuring the tiny creatures whose quick movements made the ground itself seem alive.  Here a head poked up and peered around.  There a tail flicked as its owner made a dash for a place that seemed safer.  Everywhere the leaves rustled with the constant movements of a myriad of chipmunks hunting their nutty prey.

The sun shone through those leaves that remained on the trees, casting mottled shadows on the ground.  Now and then a bit of white fur on a chipmunk stripe passed through the filtered sunlight, setting up a startling flash,like a tiny lightning flash among the dark leaves.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Thirty Little Collages - Buffalo



This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


Can anyone think about the buffalo without also thinking of the shame of their near destruction at our hands?  And sadly that is just one instance of unthinking cruelty.

But, after that, I marvel at their strength and beauty.  I hope as herds build back up they will become a common sight once again and we will get to know these magnificent creatures.  

It's sad that the stories of the animals aren't all - in fact, seldom are - happy ones.

Thirty Little Collages - Ringtail



This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.



I first became aware of the ringtail "cat" at the desert museum in Tuscon.  Despite their name, they are not cats but are related to raccoons.  Because they are seldom seen it seems they are rare, but they're actually just quite nocturnal.  I;m hoping to get a motion-activated infrared camera to put out back where I feed Peter the skunk.  Perhaps I'll discover other diners as well.  Our neighbor across the street has reported seen a ringtail twice in his few years here.  So perhaps even a ringtail caught on film is a possibility.  Now there's one for the bucket list!


Thirty Little Collages - Cougar

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


I've only seen a cougar - or puma - once.  She (he?) ran across the country road not far in front of me.  In those few seconds that I saw her I identified her by her ears and her tail.  Her tail was so thick and strong.

Pumas had a bad rep and they don't deserve it.  They're just trying to stay alive and raise their young in peace.  And it's a lot harder for them than it is for us.

They deserve our respect and their space.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Thirty Little Collages - Peary Caribou

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.



When I decided I wanted to include a caribou in this collectiion I came across an article about the Peary caribou.  These animals live on a small group of islands in the high arctic and they're different from other caribou in some ways that make them especially appealing.  For one, they're small - about the size of a Great Dane.  For another, their muzzles are shorter than those of other caribou, giving them a "baby face" look.  And like so many other hooved animals, they have big gorgeous eyes.

Thirty Little Collages - Black Bear

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


Number one on my bucket list is to live where there are bears - black bears, actually.  And not just that they're around - they're around here.  But that they would visit my property regularly, perhaps for a snack from the bird-feeder, or to enjoy the cool of the sprinkler on a hot day, or to just relax in the garden.  That would be perfect.

Thirty Little Collages - Fox

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.

I wish I had a lot to say about foxes but I don't.  I wish I could recount watching a fox family who had its den by the stream across our property as the kits grew up, but I dan't.

Not seeing much of the local wildlife is an unintended consequence of having a big dog whom I love.  So I must settle for seeing them with my mind's eye - or watching Utube videos and living vicariously through those fortunate others. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Thirty Little Collages - Mouse

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


My friend from Sierra Wildlife Rescue gave me a little deer mouse who had been injured by the cats at her shelter.  The sweet little one had brain damage.  She held her head to one side and moved in circles.  There was no way she could safely be released, so I was happily gave her a home in a terrarium in my kitchen where she was an enchanting companion for a little over three precious years.  She seemed to especially enjoy re-engineering her surroundings, constructing new tunnels and sleeping chambers.  My favorite time was coming into the kitchen first thing in the morning and seeing her poke her little nose out of her den.  I love and miss you, Miss Mousie.

Thirty Little Collages - Fawn

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


Here in the northern California Sierra foothills the summers are hard on the wildlife because it's so dry.  Here it is in mid-September and there has been virtually no rain since May.  I've been putting COB out each evening for the deer, and they can drink from our pond.

I see a pair quite regularly and I have named them Oberon and Titania after the king and queen of the fairies because these deer are so magical.

Thirty Little Collages - Gray Squirrel

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


The first animals I ever loved - Eastern Gray Squirrels, to be exact, along with the occasional melanistic individual.  The house I grew up in had been in the woods, with plenty of beech and hickory trees as well as a number of different varieties of oak.  We tamed some of the fluffy tailed residents so that they would take nuts from our hands.  Every encounter I had with them was filled with admiration on my part - how strong!  how agile!  how persistent!  what tireless workers!  and, above all, how darn cute!  It didn't take long for me to fall in love, and to fall in love for life!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Thirty Little Collages - Hare

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


My sister was disappointed to draw "Rabbit" as one of her totem animals.  

An old friend derisively called me a rabbit, meaning skittish and scared-y.

But I view rabbits in quite a positive light,  They value their lives and protect them with the tools God gave them, caution and acute observation of their surroundings which are full of predators from all directions, including above.  I pronounce them admirably realistic about their precarious life circumstances and yet brave enough to have fun.

Thirty Little Collages - Burro

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


We had a BLM burro.  Clara was born wild.  We also had her daughter, Daisy, and Daisy's son, Rodney.  As a baby Rodney's mane and tail - coarse and bristly for adults, were soft, silky curls.  Daisy and Rodney were dark brown with creamy muzzles, but Clara had that wild look.  She was dun with a light muzzle and dark mane and tail and a dark cross marking down her spine and across her shoulders.

I enjoyed standing out in the pasture with them on warm afternoons, engulfed in the gentle murmur of their deep breathing - a feeling of perfect peace.

Thirty Little Collages - Great Horned Owl

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


I have never seen a great horned owl in the wild and am unlikely to see one since we keep such different hours.  But sometimes I hear one at night an am enchanted by her haunting call.  I'm safe in my bed, but I wonder how the little nocturnal creatures feel as they scurry for cover.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Thirty Little Collages - Moose

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


Despite all likelihood the large moose appeared strangely elegant standing quietly in the knee-deep water of the lake.  The big billowing clouds reflected in the still water setting up a dramatic scene.  Overhead an eagle circled, keeping a keen eye on the water for signs of life-sustaining meal.

The surface of the water broke with the drops of water falling from the animal's muzzle as she trolled for only the tastiest of vegetation.  All around, the dark trees stood guard over the scene.  A bear watched from the silent shadows of the trees.

Thirty Little Collages - River Otter

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


It is sad but true that most of the animals I am drawing and writing about in this series I have never seen in real life.  But thanks to photos, videos, and nature shows, I feel that I know them.  So, I think I know that river otters really know how to have fun.

They are spectacularly agile and fast in the water - just the skills they need to fill their tummies.  But thanks to legs - as opposed to seal's legs/flippers - they are equally agile on land, ready to careen down muddy or snowy banks, twisting, turning, chasing, evading, and, I think, laughing the whole time.

Otters have much to teach us.

Thirty Little Collages - Bobcat Kitten

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


I worked with Sandy on Sierra Wildlife Rescue's Squirrel Team.  She and her husband worked with several other animals as well, including deer and raccoons.  One weekend they were priviledged to babysit a pair of bobcat kittens while their carers were out of town.  They were loose in the house, but Sandy and Lee lost track of them.  After a frantic hours-long search they found them curler up asleep in a large mixing bowl on the top shelf of the pantry - pretty sweet!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Thirty Little Collages - Barn Owl

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


Where we used to live there was a very old well-house that hadn't been used in quite some time.  It was the old-fashioned style with a large wooden storage tank on the second floor - quite a structure.

Actually, it's not accurate to say that it was unused because, for all the years we lived there, a pair of barn owls put it to excellent use, raising their families there.  Every spring we all looked forward to the hatching and rearing of the young owls who, after one got used to them, were very cute in their own special way. 

Thirty Little Collages - Marten

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


Martens are weasels.  They're medium size, as far as weasels go.  The smallest is the Least Weasel - only 8" long.  How'd you like to have "least" as a first name?

The verb form of "weasel" entered our language back in the days lived close to nature and developed an understanding and - even if begrudged - an admiration for their animal neighbors.  They were resigned to the never-ending search for ways to secure the chicken coop against weasels wanting those oh-so-tasty eggs.  It seemed like they could weasel their way into anything!

Thirty Little Collages - Crow

This group of postings show the finished 6" x 6" collages and also the text that I wrote about the animal and included in the collage.


A row of black walnut trees lined the road where we used to live.  As a child I loved black walnut ice cream and black walnut cake.  But the shells are so hard to crack that the nut meats are very expensive if you can find them at all.

So it was surprising to see our pigs feasting on the fallen nuts, cracking the tough shells easily in their powerful jaws.  But what was so astonishing was how the crows managed also to enjoy them.  Holding a nut in its beak, a bird would fly to the highest branch over the road and drop it.  If the nut didn't break the first drop, the crow would repeat the process until he was successful.  Then he had to be the first back on the road to claim his prize.  Amazing.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Holiday Challenge

Our art club had a holiday challenge for November.  We were challenged to create pieces of art based on a holiday.  I chose Pancha Ganapati which is a modern 5-day Hindu holiday from December 21 through the 25th.  The holiday centers around an altar in the home with a statue of Ganesh.  Each of the five days, the family dresses the statue in the color of the day.  The theme of the holiday is to bring love to each other and to the natural world.

I made a garland with 11 pieces.  Five depict Ganesh in the five daily colors.  The others are messages of love.  Here are the five Ganesh pieces:






I painted the pieces with Golden fluid acrylics on Strathmore Mixed Media paper.  The gold around the top circle is Faber Castell gold Texture Luxe.  I also used Jacquard Lumiere metallic paints and Crayola glitter pens.  The jewels on the foreheads are vintage glass.  The cords are 2mm silk cord.

This was an interesting project that was tedious at times, but really fun in the embellishment stage.  I did some research in preparation and I enjoyed finding out about the Hindu God Ganesh.




A Collage to Try A New Product


Although I worked pretty steadily on the thirty 6" x 6" paintings, I did occasionally take a break with something different.  In this case, I wanted to do a collage that would use Golden Crackle Paste as a base for acrylic painting.

To begin, I adhered aluminum foil over the top 2/3 of the 11" x 14" canvas, using matte gel medium.  After the medium had set for a bit, I pressed cardboard shapes onto the foil to create indentations.  (I think I could also have used stamps, which I may try another time.) They don't show a lot, but they do add another element of texture.  I covered the bottom third with the crackle paste, getting it as smooth as I could.  I gently smeared a bit of coarse molding paste in the top area.  At that point, I let it dry overnight.

Then the next day I started layering the washes for the background color.  When they were dry, I painted the trees and tree branches.

I cut the rabbit shapes out of paper and traced around them, then painted the rabbit shapes with a few coats of white gesso to give me an opaque ground for painting the rabbits.

Here's the finished painting:


Friday, December 2, 2016

Then - the Edge

I decided to build up some texture on the edges, so ran a "finger edge" (dipping my finger in the paint or gel and running an uneven bead around the edge) of Golden Coarse Molding Paste.  After the paste dried, I painted it Van Dyck Brown, the ran a finger edge of metallic bronze unevenly over the brown - but that doesn't show in this photo.  You'll see it in the photos of the individual pieces which come next.

More Tinting and some Detail


I did some more tinting with the aim of darkening the edges.  And I also added tiny dots for an aged look - using Raw Umber, White, and Liquitex Taupe Soft Body Acrylic.

After I did a few more of these pieces, I found myself using map elements in the collage stage that had turquoise (bodies of water) or green patches and really liked that little bit of color.  I ended up going back to each of them and adding small smears of turquoise, blue, or green paing.

Then Some Tinting


Next I used thin washes of acrylic paint to tint the background.  One of the things I wanted to achieve with the tinting was to reduce the "halo" effect of the torn paper margin around the animal.  I used Van Dyck Brown, Raw Umber, and Light Burnt Umber - all Golden liquid acrylics.

The Collage is Next


The surfaces I'm using for these pieces are 6" x 6" cradled wood panels from DickBlick.com.  I've sprayed them with white interior wood primer then lightly sanded them.  I'm using similar elements for all the collages:  the drawing which I've torn from the paper, a piece of text that I wrote in pencil about the animal, "kraft" tissue paper with dragonflies, pieces of maps, and other decorative papers from tisuue papers, paper bags, or magazines.  Oh, and also vintage gold or silver foil star stickers.

I used Liquitex matt gel medium for my adhesive, and I coat over the top of the elements as well as underneath them so that when I'm done with the collage, there is a coat of gel medium over the entire surface.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Creating the Collages

The first step in creating these little collages is the pencil drawing.  I use a 5mm mechanical pencil, beginning with HB lead and working on Strathmore Mixed Media paper.  I do most of the work with the HB lead, but then emphasize the darks with 3B then 4B leads.

I really prefer the mechanical pencils because I never have to sharpen them.  I buy my leads from jetpens.com which has the bet selection I've found.

For the first 7 collages I didn't fix the drawings, but after that I started to.  I use a thin coat of spray Workable Fixatif.  I originally didn't fix them because they didn't smear in the collage process.  But I found that they did smear when I tore them out (next step).



Friday, September 30, 2016

A Big Project


I'm planning to enter a show that requires a set of 30 6" x 6" paintings.  Here are the first ten as well as the drawings for the next two.

My subject is - surprise - American wildlife - and my medium is a mixture of collage, painting, and drawing.  Each piece features a pencil drawing of an animal as a collage element.  I then tint the background.  I don't necessarily think the pieces are finished at this point, but I want to get all 30 to this stage before I do anything more with them.

I'm enjoying the drawing, and it's good practice.


The Blackbird Pie is Finished


I glazed and fired the Great Twenty Four Blackbird Escape and attached the hanging wire to the back, so it's ready to take to the show Sunday morning.

When I took it out of the kiln I was dismayed to see three problems.  First, the pie crust had cracked - you can see the crack under the left wing of the bottom bird.  Second, the mouse's tail cracked.  And third, the pie crust colors came out AWFUL!!!  I did test fires of my colors, using the same clay as the pie and firing to the same temperature with the same firing sequence and they were fine.  But, somehow in the actual firing they came out different.

I always seem to have problems working with stoneware in a fairly large size.  I don't like the fact that the bisque fire is at a lower temperature than the final fire.  With eartenware, it's the opposite - the bisque fire is at a higher temperature than the final fire.  I think this means that with the stoneware in the final fire the clay still shrinks and reacts to the heat.  

For the first few pieces of stoneware that I made I fired the bisque firing at the same temp as the final fire - cone 5 - and everything worked OK.  Then people told me that the bisque firing should only be to cone 04 or the glaze might not stick.  I just don't know.  I'll have to research it I guess.