It’s been a long time since I blogged some of my pottery – I just haven’t had the time to get into the studio lately! I am definitely going to change that in the new year, because nothing compares to drinking from handmade pottery. This set of 4 hand-thrown, comfort-sized mugs actually came out of the kiln last spring. Hand-texturing before glazing helped create those depressions where the glaze could ‘pool’, resulting in that lovely blue colour.
Casper was a lab-hound mix that a friend of mine adopted about 12 years ago. I still remember the day he brought him home–Casper was a big, goofy puppy, all limbs. He was a gentle and sweet-natured dog all his life. When he finally had to leave us last autumn I knew I wanted to make Casper a special urn for his ashes.
After the piece was thrown, I used a shellac technique to get the relief in my design. It’s very simple, using ordinary shellac, you hand-paint a design onto a bone-dry piece of pottery.
After the shellac dries, use a damp sponge to rub the clay body very gently. The sponge will remove layers of clay from the piece, except where the shellac is. Fire the piece as normal, when it comes out of the kiln you will have a raised design.
After that I cross dipped my piece in a few different colours to finish it. I gifted it to my friend a few days ago, and he agrees that Casper would have liked it :)
Final haul from the kiln this week, and the first piece I wanted to write about was the one I made for my karate instructor and his wife.
As you can tell from this shot of the rest of the haul, I never, ever work with white. I had this idea though, inspired by Japanese design, of this austere bowl that would have to get by just on its form and function – with no shiny, colourful glaze work to detract from the shape.
The challenge with this is that the bowl itself, lacking ornament, must have sufficient gravitas and perfect form. I started myself on the task by wedging up about 8 lbs of clay. Even with the water loss after 2 firings, this means that it’s a pretty heavy bowl.
The negative space enclosed by the bowl is pretty large, deep and accented only by the fact that I allowed myself to leave just a shadow of the original throw-lines in, the time-honoured mark of a potter’s hands.
To keep the outside austere, but not bland, I filled my hands with a wet, gloppy mixture of clay and water and smoothed it over the outside to create a soft, organic texture.
Finally, the piece was glazed a flat, featureless white. I even wrapped it in white, because to do otherwise would have been too incongruous with the bowl design.
Nothing makes a potter’s heart happier than taking something through all the design stages, coaxing form and function from bags of mud, and having it find a loving home at the end. My teacher opened it last night, and he loves it :)
Just out of the kiln, another pair of ‘couple mugs’.
I was first inspired to create couple pottery while in Japan–a village I was visiting that specialized in pottery was making these traditional cups. One would always be slightly smaller, and maybe even rounder, than the other.
It’s a cute idea, easy to execute and makes for nice Christmas gifts :)
More things coming out of the kiln in the next few weeks, early Christmas for me!
It’s been a while since I was in the pottery studio – but I made the time this autumn! It’s been a few weeks and now comes that lovely period where I’m starting to get things back out of the kiln. These mugs were a housewarming gift for our dear friends Johnathan and Bev. The colour, and celtic motifs were chosen specifically to suit their tastes.
A few weeks ago I threw my largest plate yet on the wheel. It was lovely, and I had plans for it. I painted the middle in a denim blue underglaze and
painstakingly carefully freehanded in the filigree.
Alas, something happened between then and when I got the bisqueware out of the kiln – the filigree section was damaged and had a few ‘bald spots’. I decided to try just glazing it blue, hoping that the centre where the underglaze was would turn a deeper blue, and the glaze would pool in the filigree and become black, thus rescuing the design. The plate I got back was just…. blue. Not an even blue, which I would have been content with, but a blue with a few crummy lines in the middle, marking where my design used to be, and to me, obviously looking like a flaw.
I refused to let this plate die – I got out my polymer clays, YouTube and of course, resin.
The plate took about 4 hours to cover completely. I poured the resin over the top of just the clay design, without baking the clay first because I was afraid that shrinkage and curling would ruin the perfect fit on the plate. Here are my results:
The resin cured to a perfect, glassy finish.
I will never put it in the microwave, oven or dishwasher, because I’m honestly not sure what would happen. In fact, it will never be used for food at all, the plate is on display in our home.
I’m sure one day when I actually know what I’m doing with polymer clay this plate will look wonky and asymmetrical, but for now, as rescues go, I’m pretty happy :) It’s also fired up my enthusiasm for polymer clay!