These little succulents are snuggled up in some of my handleless cups and are headed off to be the Christmas gift of a dear friend
These little succulents are snuggled up in some of my handleless cups and are headed off to be the Christmas gift of a dear friend
I’m experimenting with combining my two favorite pastimes: knitting and pottery I’m starting with small plates textured with knitting swatches. They’re all limited edition, because the swatches wear out pretty quickly. This first batch is made from Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, in stockinette stitch on US 7s.
This is definitely a work in progress – I’m still trying to figure out what size and shape works best, and how to get the cleanest impression of the swatches. For a first try, though, I’m pretty happy with how clear the impression is and how the glaze shows off the texture.
I haven’t yet tried other stitches – maybe cables, or seed stitch? It’s surprisingly hard to get a good, clean impression of the pattern, so I’m not sure how well other stitch patterns will take. The interesting thing is that it’s not the actual pattern – rather, it’s the reverse – since what sticks out in the swatch is impressed in on the plate, and vice versa. As a result, it changes up the look of the stitch.
I think they’re the perfect size and shape for holding just about anything – including knitting notions! And, because of the size and curve of the plate and the fact that the texture isn’t too overly exaggerated, they could easily be used as actual plates, as well.Pin It
I’m stocking up for my first art show, and experimenting with my first batch of custom-made glaze:Pin It
Playing around with shape and proportion here – I like the small, round handle asymmetrically placed near the bottom of a tall, narrow mug.Pin It
I haven’t had a chance to get anything posted in my Etsy shop yet, but if you’re interested in buying an Oregon Rain mug (or bowl), here’s how:
Cost: Handleless cups – $10.00 (+ $2.50 shipping) (you can purchase these as candles for an extra $5)
Mugs – $15.00 (+ $3.50 shipping) or two for $30 (inc shipping)
Bowls – $20.00 (+ $4.50 shipping) or two for $40 (inc shipping)
How: Via Paypal (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Specify: (1) Cinnamon or White Salmon clay; (2) Thunder, Rainstorm, Mist, or Cloudcover colors; (3) mug, handleless cup, or bowl, and (4) how many
You can see more photos of some of the mugs here. I’m just testing the waters to see if there are folks out there interested in purchasing these hand thrown mugs, so I would love your feedback!Pin It
I’ve been playing around with a particular shape for my mugs – kind of square and squat, ready sturdy-looking, I think. I’ve had good results with Mayco Speckled Stroke & Coat Glazes – these are glazed in Speckled Cotton Tail, Moody Blue, and The Blues.
I wanted to see how these glazes and this shape would look in a different clay. I thought that this cinnamon color would be a little more, well, rustic. This is Georgie’s Pioneer Dark. At first, it was incredibly difficult to throw with because it has a lot of sand and grog in it, so it tended to really tear my hands apart. But I got better with a lighter touch, and I’m really happy with how it’s coming out, now.
I like how the cinnamon color of the clay shows through along the edges of the mug – particularly when it’s glazed in Cotton Tail. The glaze is poured inside the cups, but then brushed on (2-3 coats) on the outside, since I don’t have near enough to set it up for dipping.Pin It
I’m experimenting with bowls – different shapes and sizes – with the unifying characteristic of a brightly colored inside and outside rim, with the remainder of the outside textured and left unglazed. The colors are a variety of Amaco (Pear, Cherry Blossom, Marigold) and Spectrum (Orchid, Celadon, Cerulean, Watermelon, Cranberry) celadon glazes. At this time of year particularly, they remind me of colored Easter eggs!
I’m trying to determine which colors work well – unsurprisingly, I’m having a heck of a time finding any in the red / pink / purple family that I find satisfactory. Back to the drawing board . . .Pin It
My friend made me this beautiful fir peg board to display my favorite mugs – particularly the ones I’m hand throwing myself I love all the little details – the lines of the boards, the routed edges, and how the pegs angle up slightly to keep the mugs safely in place. I’m guessing I’ll have the entire board filled in no time!Pin It
Amaco black underglaze on bisque, then Georgie’s grass green glaze, yields surprising results!
Texturing the bottom of bowls thrown with Georgie’s White Salmon clay and then leaving them unglazed – insides and rims glazed with Spectrum Celadon (Cerulean).
Playing around with texture and how it causes the glaze to break – here I used Amaco Celadons (Storm).
Beautiful colors with Spectrum Celadon (Cerulean on the right, Celadon on the left) on the insides, Georgies transparent glaze on the outside – I’m still working on how to dip, pour, and brush with consistent results, and how to keep the rim (where the two different colors meet) looking good.Pin It
I’ve been playing with different sizes, shapes, and glazes this week:
Small pitchers and mugs glazed with Spectrum Celadons (Cerulean, Celadon Green, and Watermelon)
A bud vase glazed with Amaco Celadons (Pear)
Experimenting with a different shaped mug, glazed in Spectrum Texture Dark Cloud.
Classically shaped mug, glazed in Georgie’s Cobalt Blue.Pin It
Some studio shots of my works in progress:
Freshly thrown bowls – I’ve just switched to Georgie’s White Salmon clay, and it is SO much better than what I was previously using! Softer, easier to throw (although a lot more responsive to small movements, so it is a little more finicky), and I really prefer the white (or at least white-ish) color. I’m curious to see how it looks after glazing.
Greenware mugs after throwing, drying to leather hard, attaching handles, painting, and carving. Next steps: bisque firing, and then dipping in transparent glaze.Pin It
I love days when a glaze firing is finished and I get to empty the kiln . . .
These are some of my first attempts at painting designs onto the greenware, and then carving around them. The sheep and yarn designs are my attempt to copy the design of an amazing clay artist who sells who beautiful pieces at fiber shows around the country.
For some of the designs, I have carved rubber stamps to first imprint the image on the clay, but lately I’ve started just sketching the image on freehand, very lightly with a pencil. Then, using small paintbrushes, I apply three coats of the various colors. Once they’re completely dry – and once the pot has progressed through the leather hard stage and is getting dry, as well – I use small carving tools to cut the edges of the designs clean.
After the greenware goes through a bisque fire, I either brush or dip transparent glaze over the entire piece, and then glaze fire it. Sometimes I paint a color on the inside at the greenware stage, and sometimes I use either color or transparent glaze on the inside at the bisque stage. I struggled at first with applying the glaze too heavily to the exterior, so that it was obscuring the carving lines, but I wanted to make sure that some glaze got into the carved lines; I think that dipping, instead of brushwork, makes it easier to get the right amount and texture of glaze to adhere to the various surfaces of the bisque piece.
I think that this is probably my favorite way to design and finish my work, at least right now – I’m working on adding other design motifs to practice with, as well.Pin It
I first carved very rudimentary leaf shapes out of rubber stamping material, and used an ink pad and the stamps to imprint the images on the greenware bowls. This simply gave me the size and shape of the leaf designs, which I then “filled in” with three brush-coats of underglaze in various colors.
After the underglaze dried, I used carving tools to create clear outline shapes around the painted leaves. In some spots, I carved the leaf shape first, and then either left it unpainted, or used underglaze in a squeeze bottle to pipe the paint into the carved outline.
After the bisque firing, I used Georgie’s transparent glaze (either dipped or three brush-coats) on both the inside and outside of the bowls, and then glaze fired them.
I learned that it’s better to wait until the greenware is much farther along in the leather-hard stage than when I do the trimming before carving, because otherwise the lines aren’t as crisp and you leave a lot of small pieces of clay that have to be brushed out later on. These projects showed me that not only do my wheel throwing skills need a lot of work, but all of my other artistry skills – design, painting, carving – need to improve as well!Pin It
Yet two more deceptively simple skills, yet difficult to execute without messing up the greenware!
Pulling and attaching handles – who knew it would be so hard? I’m struggling with getting them the right shape and size for the mug, as well as the right angle and dimensions for a comfortable hold. Once I get it where I want it, it seems that I continuously muck up the greenware – and the handle – with my clumsy attempts to get it securely attached.
This is an example of slip dots applied via a small bottle applicator – it’s actually a lot of fun, but I’ve found (through a lot of trial and error) that the greenware needs to be on the softer end of the leather hard stage, otherwise the slip will just flake off after it dries. Dots are the simplest way to apply slip – assuming that you can avoid making them too gloppy – I’ve also been experimenting with drawing on lines of slip in various designs, but I’ve found that it’s much more difficult to get an entire line of slip to apply evenly. I do like how the slip gives the item texture, and how it results in an interesting break-up of the glaze.Pin It
I have found glazing to be one of the most frustrating aspects of pottery – it’s so difficult to get consistent results, and it never turns out the way I think it will! I particularly struggle with the various techniques – dipping is quicker, but it requires a lot of glaze and I end up with a lot of drips and uneven application, while painting on the glaze takes three coats (with drying time in between), and even then, I can’t get an even application. Here are some of my early examples:
This bowl was dipped in Georgie’s Blizzard Blue – I like the color variation and wanted the more “rustic” look, and it’s a good thing, because even with dipping, I wasn’t able to get even coverage. This may be caused by the “toothy” clay I’m using and the fact that my bisque isn’t very smooth, which gives the glaze a lot of minute surfaces to get hung up on or to cling to.
This is a good example of my ongoing struggle to throw a symmetrical bowl that has a nicely distributed curve to its sides. The glaze is Amaco’s Celadon in color Sky – as you can see, even when I paint on three coats, I don’t get even distribution or a smooth finish. I like the “mottled” look, but it’s frustrating if I want an even color throughout.
The inside of this bowl was glazed with three coats of Georgie’s Wild Orchid – again, a very uneven look, which was three coats applied with a brush.
Finally, this bowl – one of my best shape-wise to date – was brushed with three coats of Spectrum Celadon in color Light Celadon Green. While I got more of an even finish, I noticed minute cracks in the surface on both the inside and outside of the bowl. I kind of like how it looks, but what if I didn’t want those cracks? It may be that I applied the glaze too thickly, and the cracks developed once the bowl was cooling after it fired, but this color is so light, that I felt like I needed three heavy coats to get any real appearance of color whatsoever.Pin It
These are some of my first attempts at sgraffito – in both of these bowls and the small cup, I painted greenware with either colored slip (gold bowl) or underglaze (green bowl and purple-blue cup) and then used fine-blade tools to carve out lines.Pin It
For the past four months, I’ve been learning how to throw clay on a wheel, and let me just say, it’s been a humbling experience! I guess it’s easy to forget how difficult learning a new skill is, and how difficult it is to be bad at something – I mean, really suck at it – and struggle to develop even basic proficiency. It has reminded me how beneficial it is to keep learning new things, even at my advanced in-my-40s age, because I can see how quickly that ability can atrophy.
I started with a once-a-week class at Georgies Ceramics and Clay, but I quickly concluded that i was never going to grasp the basic fundamentals without some extra work. I took a private lesson early on, and then started coming into Georgies three times a week, to get in additional practice time and to watch and learn from all of the people using open studio time. My progress has been very slow – in part because there is a lot to learn! I never thought much beyond the actual throwing of the object on the wheel, but then there is figuring out how to get your piece to dry not too fast, but not too slow; how to trim; how to pull and add handles; how to glaze (very frustrating!), and all of the dozens and dozens of different ways that the finished object can be carved, decorated, colored, added to, or otherwise finished.
After one session of classes, I decided that I wanted to invest long-term in this new hobby, so I retrofitted an old shed on our property into my pottery studio. I hired a contractor to clean it out, finished the inside with plywood walls and ceiling, and coat the floor and 3′ up the walls with an easy-clean cement finish. I found a used commercial sink and had it installed, along with a small hot water heater. I had the shed wired for electricity, and then installed the kiln and a small electric heater, since keeping the room at a constant temperature is very important for ensuring that the clay dries evenly (plus, it gets cold out there in the winter!) Once I added in the wheel, a table for weighing and wedging the clay, a fan for quick drying, and several metal shelving racks, I was all set! Oh, I also added in a small portable Bose speaker system, so that I could sync my iPhone and play Pandora
Here’s what it looks like now:
I’m buying just enough clay and supplies to get started, and slowly adding glazes, underglazes, and tools as I need them. The studio has quickly become a quiet haven – not in small part because it’s separate from the house and the girls have to really work at it if they want to come find me!
In upcoming posts, I’ll include photos of some of my first projects – not that these are fine examples of handiwork, by any means, but I like the idea of chronicling where I’m starting at, so hopefully I can look back some day and feel like I’ve actually progressed I find it’s also important to keep a record of the designs and glazes I’ve used, in case I want to replicate a project later on.Pin It