Sunday, October 22, 2017

Slabs and Mugs

On Wednesday, our class will use our new hump moulds to create beautiful platters.  So in anticipation of 7 people lined up at the slab roller, I decided to roll my slabs today, and then in class I can jump straight to creating the extruded rims and feet.  But before I did that, I soaked up Fredi's demo of an oval container with pillow lid.  I found the pillow lid process fascinating, and will need to try that some time.  Or perhaps just use her idea of adding a clay bead, and make some clay shakers.  I've been thinking of that, so maybe I'll try some day soon.

Before I left to roll slabs, I threw 4 mugs, but they really ended up huge.  So they will be very big mugs, maybe more like beer steins.  Then I rolled my slabs.  The first one I textured with my handmade clay stamps, including some which were hot out of the bisque firing.

Mesmerizing, isn't it?

The second slab may be a surprise for someone for Christmas, so I can't say, except that it is textured, and then I applied black slip to it, and will scrape it, to reveal the pattern.  It wasn't dry enough at the end of the day, so I will continue this pattern Wednesday, before draping over the hump mould.

In between working the slabs, I stamped my mugs.  Once the slabs were done and textured, it was time to finish off the mugs with handles.  Here they are at the end of the day :

One by one...
This was such a huge mug, that it didn't seem a normal handle would suit it, so it is a funky double handle.  I'm not sure if a finger would fit in that lower loop, but it looks inviting.

Again, a very big mug.  Fredi made a comment in passing that it looked like a soup mug, and perhaps could have two handles.  So I decided that would be fun.  Although when I googled "soup mug" I don't think any of them came up with double handles.  But I like the balance it provides.  It has a bit of "attitude", almost looks like hands on the hips.

This one I stamped before it was dry enough, so the stamp marks turned out a bit mucky.  And then I dropped slip onto them, but was too lazy to find (I might have taken it out of my bag) my narrow slip trailer, so I ended up squeezing out larger slip dots than I would have preferred.  But it could still turn out okay.

This one's a beauty, and probably a very good size for a coffee mug.  I love almost everything about it.  I hope I will do it justice when I glaze it.

I am waiting on my first few pieces, which should be glazed tomorrow, and I'll hopefully see them Wednesday, but if not, then Sunday for sure.  I'm really curious to see how the brown clay fires, and also some of the glaze combinations I tried.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Styrofoam Hump Moulds, More Plates, Some Glazing

Today was a productive day.  We had class #1 of our 2-class Styrofoam Hump & Slump Moulds course.  I didn't see the advantage of making the slump moulds at this point, so I made only more hump moulds (as I have 4 wonderful hump moulds from the course I took previously).

Linda suggested we try for 1 or 2, but I ended up making 3 hump moulds.  Two are a 2" deep oval, such as the one Linda used to make this deep casserole dish (with the beautiful glaze combination of Copper Red over Tenmoku):

The two ovals are sized so that the casserole dishes should easily stack together.  I didn't remember to take a photo.

The other one is a 1.5" deep soft round rectangle, which will make a wonderful sort of serving tray / platter.  I am pretty happy with this one, too.  Again, I didn't remember to take a photo.

That was my first 3 hours.  The next 4 hours or so, I did some trimming and glazing.  I am super happy with how these trimmed plates turned out :
Beautiful carved and stamped ceramic plates - WIP by Lily L.
The top one, I had stamped the rim on Sunday, but when I trimmed it, I also trimmed a spiral into the center.  I like how that looks.  I hope I can find a glaze which will do it justice.

The bottom one, I had made it Sunday with the spiral inside, and was planning to stamp the rim also, but I let it dry a bit too much, so instead, I used my trimming tool to carve the rim.  I really like how it turned out.  So much movement in the piece.  Again, I hope the glazes will do it justice.

I intentionally glazed one of my dark brown clay pieces, and hopefully it will be fired soon, so I will see it before I need to decide on these plates.  If the results are not spectacular, I should really do some test tiles, or create a piece which I can sacrifice to a number of glaze experiments.  Here is the brown vase, with a bit of black stain in the stamped pattern.  I want to see if it will show through my selected glaze.

I then glazed a few of my stamped mugs, which have been waiting patiently for me since I finished them in July!  I look forward to having a few finished ones for Hemlock Coffee Co.  (Hmmm, I thought I posted about them previously, but anyhow, they have some of my pieces for sale, and I have a feeling the mugs will be something their customers may enjoy).

Here are a few of the mugs, glazed, and awaiting firing :

The weather was really dismal today, raining heavily, so it was really good to be in the studio with good people and busy with so many items.  I can't imagine a better way to spend a rainy day.

Monday, October 16, 2017

More Lids

Every class with Fredi is so packed with new ideas and approaches.  I am really pleased with how much I am learning and exploring.

I tried out another method for making the smooth-profile lids which I am currently fascinated by.  Last week we learned to start from a closed form.  Today it was thrown in two pieces, and then fit together.  Mine actually fit fairly well :
After a bit of trimming, I had this :
I then did a bit of decorating with white slip, but forgot to take photos - and even forgot my pot outside (I was letting it dry in the breeze), and was lucky that when I phoned my instructor, she hadn't left yet, so was able to pull in my pot for me.

I am enjoying the challenge of making plates, so threw 2 more.  This one dried enough to decorate :

Since there are no finished pieces - or test tiles - with the H440 clay, I hope to glaze and fire a couple at a time, so I can learn what works and what doesn't.  I even considered making some test tiles, so I can try out more glaze combinations.  Maybe Wednesday.

While the leaves are still on the trees (not for much longer!) I have also made a few more leaf dishes and totem pieces :

I am hopeful that my 2 day course on making hump and slump moulds will go ahead this week and next week.  When I checked on Sunday, only 5 of the 10 spots were filled.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Finishing Up those Lids and Plates

I am really pleased with what I've been learning in my Lids class.  This Wednesday, I finished off the pieces I started on the weekend.  Due to Thanksgiving holiday and plans to be away, it would otherwise have been 2 weeks before I get to the pieces, and they may have been too dry. 

The new lid method I learned was a success, and I was able to cut and coax those pieces together, and then trim them so they fit seamlessly.  It was my friend Roma's idea to add a small stamp, which also helps in case there is a position of the lid which fits best (which seemed to be the case).
I'm really excited about this method, and can't wait to make some more closed forms to try it out again.

I trimmed the marbled vase.  I like how the cross comes through clearly on the bottom :

For the plates I threw, I stamped the third one :
I finished all three plates with a simple foot.  Although I hope to throw some more which I will finish with a pedestal foot.

This little pot, I threw from the clay which I was using as a chuck for trimming my brown plates :

And this pot was too plain, so I flattened out the front surface, and Roma lent me one of her stencils, which worked out perfectly, I think :
I think that's about it.  When I get back to the studio, I will be throwing more but also hoping glazing a few pieces, so I will have a few finished items to look forward to soon.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Learning to Put a Lid on It

It was very sad that our raku class was cancelled today, especially after I rushed to get my pieces made and glazed last week.  Apparently I was the only one.  So now I will need to wait until November, to fire them.

On the positive side, I was able to attend the 2nd class with Fredi Rahn.  The course name is "Lids, Caps and Covers", but I like to think of it as "Put a Lid on It".  I have been learning so much, I can't believe it.  Last week she showed us various types of lids, and various types of containers which could receive those lids.  I learned one which I have never seen before, which I was very excited to try out.  So last week I threw one container with two different styles of lid :

Then I tried to throw a closed form, but didn't quite manage to close it, but created a very pleasant shaped vase anyhow:

This week I trimmed and finished those lids, and was very pleased with how this one turned out :
It was difficult adding those texture lines, as my profile tool was wider than the lid, but I somehow managed.

I knew I wouldn't like the sunken lid for this pot, but since I followed Fredi's advice, and recorded the measurements, I could at a later time go back and threw another pot for this lid.  I think it would work well in a tea pot.  Although I've made a few tea pots before, and I know how much work they are.  So unless they are in the shape of a dragon or have dragons climbing on them, I don't think it is worth my while.

After that, I threw that closed form which I was attempting the prior week, and pushed in a groove with my sanded-down popsicle stick.  This was the method I was very excited to try, as I love that shape and low profile lid which looks like it is integrated with the piece.
Just before class ended, I cut along the bottom of that groove, and tweaked both pieces a bit so that they fit together.  Next time I'll trim them on the outside so they meet seamlessly.  I am excited at how this may turn out, and with this possibility.  I think I see a lot more of this lid method in my future.

After that, I decided to throw a few plates (it was open workshop, not class, at that point), since I had made a few nice ones recently and then tossed them off the balcony.
I threw one with the grey clay, and then switched to this beautiful brown H440 clay, and threw two more.  I was really happy with how they turned out.  But then the real magic happened when I decided to stamp the rims :
I don't know how that brown clay responds to glazes, so unless anyone has any glazed already, I made need to actually do a few glaze tests to decide how to glaze these plates.

My friend Roma wanted to trade for a bit of my brown clay, so she could threw some marbled pieces.  Look how beautiful they turned out :

Mine was a little bit of white marbled into my brown, but much less successful.  I guess I was pretty busy working, so didn't even stop for a photo. 

I am exciting about all I will learn in this course, and about the many ideas I have swirling in my head, which I want to explore also.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Back at it Again, And Ready to Raku - If it Goes Ahead

Lots has been happening in my pottery world recently.  I took a three day Throwing Intensive course with Jay MacLellan.  It was really intense.  At the end of the session, we threw all our work (anything we hadn't cut in half to examine the wall thicknesses) off a stairwell, into a tarp below.


Since I can never let go of anything, even if it cracks or appears to have failed, so I was expecting that it would be really difficult for me to throw my work off the stairwell.  But I was surprised that instead it became a very freeing experience.  I threw some of my best pieces so far, during this session.  I think in large part because I allowed myself to push my limits.  After all, I had nothing to lose.


I was pretty pleased with some of the feet I trimmed :



...and pedestal / footed plates :


Jay gave us a "throw big" challenge, and I threw 15 or 20 pounds of clay, into a really big pot :


It was funny, but he offered that if I wanted to keep it, I could.  I declined, saying that if I could throw it once, I could throw it again.  And I was very proud of myself for letting go of it.  Here is a number of my pieces before the toss :


...and after the toss :


During the Intensive Course, I discovered that not only was there not enough time to throw and bisque fire work in the first week that we returned, for the raku firing on October 1, but we were now expected to glaze our work in advance also.  So I either needed to created some work very quickly, or drop out of the raku firing.  I decided to create some work.  I threw two pots from reclaimed sculptural clay, and took them home to carve them, and return them to the bisque the following day :


It didn't take me long to carve them, but it took more than 6 hours to glaze those two pieces :


So I hope they are not lost or stolen, or broken during the firing!  I also glazed a few more items today, so I've got my full allotment, in case the raku course goes ahead :


I say "in case", since the course has taken others by surprise also, and of the 10 people who signed up for the course, it has dropped to 5, and Jay told me today I'm the only one who has shown up to glaze my pieces.  So I have a strong feeling it will be cancelled.  Which would be a shame, since the weather is incredibly beautiful at the moment.  And if I leave these for the raku course in November, I'm sure the weather will be rainy and miserable by then.  Not to mention, I had hoped to have a few of these pieces back in time to give them as a birthday present.  But it looks like that won't likely happen now.


Anyhow, it is good to be back, even if just partially.  I have my Lids course with Fredi on Sundays, followed by a drop in workshop.  The Lids course will be really great, as that's not something I currently do much with, and we already learned SO much in the first class I couldn't believe it.  But on Wednesdays, sadly there was no course offered, so I only have the workshop.  The full truth is that there was a Monday and Wednesday course offered, but like me, I think many of the people who are not retired yet, only have Wednesdays as their pottery day.  Or Mondays.  Not both.  So that course didn't get enough participants, and was cancelled.  Leaving a gaping hole in the pottery schedule, and resulting in almost nobody at the drop in workshop today (only 3 people - all retired - throwing in the studio, and me glazing in the kiln shed).

Saturday, August 5, 2017

More Finished Pieces from the Summer

I've posted the pieces from the Tony Clennell workshop, and my leaf plates, and the big dragon pot.  I'm posting a few more pieces, which I picked up recently, before the studio closed.  It will reopen in September.  There are a few more I have not taken photos of yet, and it's too late now to get good lighting, so they'll need to wait for another time.

Double walled floral ceramic vessel, pottery by Lily L.
1) I really like how this piece turned out.  It has the look of a wood or soda firing, and I love the variations in colour and visual texture of it.  It was thrown from 2200g of P570 white clay.  I seem to recall I was trying to thrown a double-walled vessel so that I could carve the outside wall, and have the inside wall for a vase or something.  But by the time I joined the two walls, it ended up being in a shape which was not suitable for carving.  For in progress photos see this post.

Anyhow, the floral design really works for me.  I decided to spray it in Ash Yellow glaze, which was a favourite glaze recently, and then I sprayed an accent of Tenmoku glaze, which really makes this piece eye-catching, I think.

Large textured ceramic pot, pottery by Lily L.
2) This is the first of my pieces from the "Go Big" challenge.  It was thrown in 2 pieces, and you can see how I combined and decorated them in this post.  It was thrown from a total of 6300g of P570 white clay, and then decorated in thick slip.  It is glazed with Ash Yellow, and then highlighted with Deep Blue and Tenmoku Glazes, applied with a sponge.  It is still a bit wonky, but it turned out okay.  It is 14" tall, which is a pretty impressive piece of pottery, for me.  Of course, I ended up doubling the weight on the big dragon pot, but that was simply unexpected.