Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Back in the Studio

I had my first class of both courses this week.  The Sunday course on "Sets and Settings" with Fredi Rahn, and the Wednesday Porcelain course with Tanis Saxby.  I'm soooo excited and relieved to be back in the studio.  It was really difficult being locked out for the past couple of months.

In Fredi's class, I got off to a good start by throwing 5 plates.  I did a bit of stamping on them today, and trimmed two of them (although I needed to force them with a hair dryer, and even then the clay was so soft and sticky that the trimmings kept getting stuck on the plate, and I dented the rims a couple of times trying to handle them).  Here are a couple of the stamped plates :

I don't know why the photo quality is so poor, but anyhow, after taking this photo, I decided to trim a swirl into the plate on top also, and it looks even better now.  All my plates feature my hand made stamps, which I am enjoying very much.

This one I went a bit crazy with on the stamping, but I am fairly pleased with the result, even if a bit busy.

These floral stamps have really served me well.

I have a final plate which was too damp to stamp today.  I also have a very beautiful hump mould which I threw in clay, and need to carve out once a bit dryer.  I can't wait to get that bisque and into action.  And the final piece from Sunday was a mug that I threw, which needs to be cleaned up / trimmed and a handle attached.

Tanis encouraged us to think of a form today that we would want to create, and encouraged us to try several attempts at it, learning from each, until we got something we were happy with.  Anyhow, one of my thoughts is a wall-gripping dragon, but I don't think that will be a porcelain project, I'll eventually make one in sculptural clay.  So my next thought was the ammonite shape which has haunted me for a long time now, and I keep saving screenshots of them on Instagram.  Such as this one :
So today I made three different attempts, each one trying a slightly different approach.  All need to firm up before I do more work on them, but I can decide next week if I want to continue with all 3, or just pick my favourite one, and work with that.  So here they are :

The first attempt, was to lay a slab on the wheel, and draw the spiral (while the wheel was turning), and then shape the slab.  I ended up putting some plastic wadding in the outer spiral, to give it that round shape.  But it was pretty difficult/impossible to wad the inner part of the spiral, so I will just carve / press that part.  This approach showed some promised, but I decided I may be able to improve on it :

Here, the first attempt is shown at the front / bottom, and I've started to work on adding the texture.  The second attempt (behind / above) was to lay a slab, draw out the spiral, and then add extra clay to provide the rounding.  But that was a bit time consuming to smooth and round the clay.  And the center was still pretty flat, as I wasn't sure I wanted to continue adding smaller and smaller coils there.  When it is firm I would carve out  some of the excess clay from the back, at least in the outer part of the spiral.

My third thought and approach was to throw a big slab of clay on the wheel (I needed to borrow an extra large bat for this one), and shape it the thickness I wanted, before drawing the spiral :
So far this one feels the most promising, as I have a wonderful curved shape to work with, and a nice thickness of clay (again, I will carve out the excess later).

So these are the three attempts.  Not bad for one class.  I look forward to playing with any or all of them next time, learning improvements to my process as I go along.

If I can, I will add some holes for potentially hanging these.  Likely inside the first spiral, so they are not visible from the outside.  That should be nice.  I'm excited.  This is a really nice project for me.

When I have a chance, I'll post photos of a few items which I picked up Sunday, as they were stuck in the cage over the break.  Most of them totem pieces, and leaf with ladybug plates.  But a few other items also.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

More Finished Items : Mugs, Vases, Plates and Platters

I wasn't able to pick up any more finished items today, but I was able to get into the kiln shed and peek into the locked cabinet, and see a number of my pieces.  A plate which is very pretty, and a number of small leaf plates which turned out well.  January, I guess.

In the meantime, I will post the remainder of what I have picked up so far, from the Fall session :

8) This little mug is thrown from 700g of B-Mix (white) clay.  I experimented with highlighting the stamp marks with Deep Blue glaze, Black stain, and Tenmoku glaze.  All three of them  showed through nicely through the Ash Yellow glaze, but the glazes are a bit more distinct than the stain.

9) This mug is thrown from 800g of H440 brown clay, and stamped with my handmade floral / sunburst clay stamp.  I glazed it Bamboo inside and out, but experimented with leaving the handle unglazed, along with the bottom, which shows the pattern from my wiggle wire.  I like how the handle is smooth yet gritty, and I think I'll experiment with this again.

10) This little mug started as 700g of H440 clay.  My notes say that I highlighted the hand stamped texture (alternating dots and feathery patterns - not very visible in this photo) with Deep Blue and Ash Yellow glazes.  I then glazed it in White inside, and Daly Blue outside and overlapping half the inside.  I like the soft lilac that emerges from the Daly Blue on White.  I'll need to experiment more with this combination.  The bottom part of the mug is unglazed, revealing the deeply speckled brown clay, and the wiggle wire bottom.

11) This mug was thrown back in July 2017, from 900g of B-Mix white clay.  It is heavily stamped, and the stamp marks highlighted with Deep Blue, Tenmoku and Matt Green glazes, then the whole mug is sprayed in Celadon.  It is the same glaze combination as the platter in my prior post.  A very satisfying combination for me.

12) My notes say that this 900g H440 brown clay handstamped mug was touched up Black stain, then glazed Bamboo, and Matt Green over.  Pretty nice.  I like the funky handle.

13) Just to mix it up, here is another totem piece from extruded B-Mix, with a touch of Kingsmill stain, and wax on the leaves, and then dipped in Tam's Green.  But it seems I didn't mix up the Tam's Green again, as it turned out more gold/brown than green.  But still very nice.

14) This leaf plate was created from a slab of B-Mix, with the imprint of an Oakleaf Hydrangea leaf, finished in Tam's Green (brushed) then sprayed Clear.  The ladybug is of course finished with Red and Black underglazes.  Very cute.

15) This grape design plate features the imprint of grape leaves from my garden.  The "grapes" are finished in Red and Purple underglazes, and the leaf in Matt Green, before being sprayed Clear.  I pushed two holes through the foot ring, so it could be wired and hung from the wall.

It's interesting, I met someone the other day who bought one of my platters last year, and they were still trying to figure out how to set it up on a stand for display.  It had not occurred to me that someone would buy a platter and try to display it.  So I should think more about providing a means for hanging them, just in case.  Or sell them with a plate stand, if I could find some good strong ones.

16) This funky vase was thrown from H550 grey clay, and then I flattened one portion of it, to add a Red underglaze peony using a stencil I borrowed from my friend Roma.  It is glazed White inside, and Flambe Red (our new replacement for the ill-behaving Copper Red) outside.  I can't remember how I finished the stencil part, I must have glazed it clear there.  But I didn't make a note of it at the time (I must have been in a rush).

17) This marbled pot was B-Mix (smaller stripes and cross at bottom) in H440 clay.  It has a rolled / hollow rim, and is finished in Tam's Green, according to my notes.  But it sure looks more like Ash Yellow than Tam's Green.  Again, I must not have mixed it well that day.  I think that was the day the Ash Yellow was very thick, so I was trying to dip it very quickly, and not stir it too much.

18) I've saved a number of pots from Fredi's Put a Lid on It course, since they were so much work, and I may save them for a wood or soda firing.  This one is H550 grey clay finished in Ash Yellow and the new Daly Blue.  I like the blue in the underside of the lid.

19) This platter cracked ever so slightly in the bisque firing (actually, I think it cracked as I was handling it subsequent to the firing), and I knew it could at best be an adornment to my garden, but I also thought it could look pretty spectacular, even if only for the garden.  So I glazed it anyhow, with Tam's Green.  It is just as spectacular as I had hoped, and will be happy to use it in the garden in the Spring.  I will try again with this platter again next year.

I think that's it for anything I can post before Christmas, anyhow.  But I'll look back on my notes, whether I missed anything.

Finished Items from the Fall Session - Plates, Platters and Mugs

I've been pretty pleased with  some of my recent work.  If all goes well, I will pick up more today.

1) It seems one can never have enough platters.  I like how this one turned out.  It features imprints from my handmade stamps, on BMix clay, highlighted in Deep Blue, Matt Green and Tenmoku glazes, with a bit of Tenmoku glaze to highlight the texture of the rim and handles, and then sprayed all over with Celadon.  A really fine piece.

2) This was one of my plates thrown from the H440 brown clay, which ends up so very freckly.  I highlighted some of the imprints (again, from my handmade clay stamps) in White glaze, and then dipped it in White, overlapped with Clear.  A subtle and pleasant earth tone result, and so very very freckly.

3) This mug was thrown from approx 800g of the H440 brown clay.  It is finished with a touch of Black stain to highlight the celtic knot pattern, and then Bamboo inside and out, leaving the bottom portion unglazed to show the dark brown clay, and bottom with the pattern of the wiggle wire.

4) This mug is also thrown from 800g of H440 clay, and finished in the new Daly Blue glaze, with the bottom portion and wiggle wire bottom unglazed.  I like how the new glaze is quite flowy.  Although the bright blue is quite darkened and subdued by the dark clay.

5) This is what the Daly Blue looks like on a white clay, this one B-Mix.  It shows a pretty sky blue, with touches of lilac.  This little mug features handmade clay stamping, an extruded handle, and is finished in a White glaze along the profile at bottom (the profile tool borrowed from my fellow potter, Herb) and inside, and then the outside dipped in Daly Blue.  I love the little ring of purple and blue inside the rim of the mug, where the Daly Blue has overlapped the white.

6) Similar to (4), but smaller, with a little thumb button on the handle.  Sweet little mug.

I'll post a few more next time I have opportunity.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Wrapping it up for this Term

The end of the term always comes too soon for me, and the Christmas and New Years break is always too long.  I dread being locked out of the studio for the whole of December and first half of January.  It is a truly bleak time of year.

Tomorrow is the bisque deadline, and I have been away from class for two weeks now, since I had the raku firing last weekend, and had my personal life interfering with my pottery the last two Wednesdays.  So my extruded clay was pretty stiff, and the slabs would have been too dry if I hadn't already snuck into the studio yesterday and added wet paper towels and re-wrapped them in plastic.  Fredi had encouraged us to make a set of stacking containers, and today I decided to give it a try.  I think the result is pretty good (better than I expected, actually).  I made two containers, the top one with a very nice fitting lid :
I really like how the stamping worked out, and I have a different stamp on each side, to make it easier to assemble the stack.  Pretty clever, right?  I wasn't sure what type of handle to add, the stamp on the front is a tree design, so I played with making a small tree to add on top, but that didn't work too well.  It was my friend Janet who suggested I just make a branch, since it fits the nature theme of trees and flowers.  I really like how the branch worked out.

I have a feeling this would go very nicely in a wood or soda firing.  But I don't have any scheduled any time soon.  So I'll need to decide whether to save this stack for a future firing.  But I won't be able to rush it through this term anyhow (the bisque deadline is tomorrow, and the glaze deadline the following weekend).

Anyhow, I also trimmed up two vases I had started previously.  It seemed to take forever (over an hour, anyhow), to trim up those two vases.  But I'm relatively happy with the results.

I wasn't really supposed to start anything new, and didn't have much time anyhow, but I ended up throwing two small items, which could become mugs or just vases.  I tried an idea I saw on Instagram the other day, to press in some of my brown trimmings into the white clay.  But I think I'd need to apply a bit of slip next time, so that they stick better.  And I guess I forgot to take photos.

I also threw a very beautiful half-sphere bowl, which I intend to trim smooth on the outside, so it will double as either a slump mould or hump mould.  I have lots of ideas already for how I want to use it.

I did remember to take photos of a couple other small items I was also working on, but I can't post them yet, as one of the items is also destined to be a Christmas gift.  So I think that's it for now.

I have two more sessions, Wednesday and Sunday, and more items to glaze than I'll probably get done in that time.  But I'll do my best to at least get all the mugs going, and the leaf plates.  Since those may be items which would be of interest to Hemlock Coffee (Agassiz) patrons.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

More Finished Items : Plates and Totem Pieces

I really enjoyed making some stamped dinner plates (salad plates, once they shrunk!) this session, and was really curious to see how the glazes would work with the dark chocolate H440 clay. 

Beautiful handmade ceramic plate - pottery by Lily L.
11) This plate started as approx 1800g of H440 clay, and stamped with one of my hand made stamps.  It is a pretty deep plate, something between a plate and a bowl.  Perfect for pasta.  I added Black stain to the impressions, and then glazed in Bamboo.  I like how the Bamboo breaks over the brown clay, and the freckly iron-rich texture shows nicely.  I think this is my favourite glaze so far on this clay.  But I look forward to experimenting more.

Beautiful handmade ceramic plate - pottery by Lily L.
12) This is also the H440 clay, glazed in Deep Blue and Amber Celadon (overlapping).  A bit darker than I usually like, but I love how the Amber Celadon breaks over the carvings on the edge.

Beautiful handmade ceramic plate - pottery by Lily L.
13) Least favorite glaze on the H440 : Ash Yellow.  I think I intentionally stirred it lightly, so the Ash Yellow would apply a bit thin.  So it turned out a bit mottled yellow and brown.  Not too bad, but not my choice of colors. The plate itself is pretty nice, with again the hand made stamps decorating the edge.

I am really pleased with the shape and weight of my plates, and really look forward to making some with pedestal bases, likely in the new year.

Beautiful handmade ceramic leaf for a garden totem - pottery by Lily L.
14) This fig leaf is an absolute beauty.  Too bad it's for my future garden totem, rather than a trinkets plate.  It is made from B-Mix clay, and my notes say that I applied Deep Blue glaze to the cracks first, and then dipped in Tam's Green.  And I have a sad face indicating that the Tam's Green went on a bit thick, and was all crackly.  But there is no sign of that now.  It is beautiful, with a rich veining.  There is a bit of the kiln shelf stuck to it (see bottom left), but I should be able to easily grind that off.

Beautiful handmade leaf imprinted totem piece - pottery by Lily L.
These next four pieces are extruded sections of B-Mix clay which I will use for another garden totem.  I really like how all of them turned out.

Beautiful handmade leaf imprinted totem piece - pottery by Lily L.
15) It's funny, but the Davidii involucrata leaf imprints were washed in Green overglaze, but since they were waxed (so unglazed), they went black rather than green.  I had that same thing happen a long time ago while I was playing with little leaf pendants / beads.  But there isn't much I could do about it, as I really wanted to keep these unglazed.  Another time perhaps the whole piece could have a green slip applied before adding the leaf imprints, to get actual green.  Anyhow, the remainder was dipped in Amber Celadon.  Lovely result.  I think this would work great for some mugs next Spring, when all the leaves are fresh and available again.  It's pretty slim pickin' at the moment.

Beautiful handmade leaf imprinted totem piece - pottery by Lily L.
16) This piece also turned out nicely.  It is the imprint from Japanese Anemone leaves.  It was glazed in Tam's Green, but it seems to be thinly applied.  I like how there are fall yellows and browns on that bottom corner.

Beautiful handmade leaf imprinted totem piece - pottery by Lily L.
17) This piece features the mosquito geranium from my friend Beth, and a texture from one of my hand made stamps.  Funny but when I first saw it, I thought "newspaper", and my son said the exact same thing when he saw it.  It is Black stain in the textures, and then Celadon.  I will use this combination again!

Beautiful handmade leaf imprinted totem piece - pottery by Lily L.
18) This one looks very similar to (15) above, but here I used Black stain in the viburnum leaf imprints, and then Amber Celadon where I hadn't waxed.

Most of my other pieces are now awaiting glazing.  So I hope to move them along on Wednesday, as the studio is closed this weekend for Remembrance Day.  Then I have probably very few I can finish up or start, and get done by the end of the month, when the studio closes for the Christmas / Winter break, and doesn't reopen until January.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Raku Results

I think my photos from the actual raku session on the weekend may be better than the ones I took today.  Even though the sky was relatively bright, I didn't seem to be able to capture the vibrancy and iridescence in the colors well today, even after making some color adjustments while editing.  But here they are, anyhow :

Beautiful raku puzzle vase - pottery by Lily L
1) My notes says that this piece was thrown from reclaimed clay (a combination of Columbia Buff with Grog, WSO, and B-Mix).  The raku glazes include : #5 Red Bronze Lustre, #6 Patina, 881 Oxblood, #1 Ferguson Turquoise, #2 Copper Red, and then I did a few pieces in Yellow and Purple underglaze, with White Crackle glaze over.  I really like how the yellow and purple pieces turned out.  There are also some shiny copper pieces which I was pretty happy with.

Beautiful raku puzzle vase - pottery by Lily L
2) Same reclaimed clay and similar approach, except I didn't cut out any puzzle pieces on this one, and I like the robust shape of this one a bit more.  it was finished in the same raku glazes, except I also did a couple of pieces in White Crackle glaze.

Beautiful raku leaf decoration - pottery by Lily L
3) This one is not a vase, it is a closed form, with Davidii involucrate (dove tree) leaf imprints, and cutouts.  If it was more open, it could serve as a candle holder, but this one is just a decoration / centerpiece.  The colors are much more beautiful than in the photo.  It was thrown from Columbia Buff with Grog clay, and finished in the #2 Copper Red glaze.  It amuses me that the glaze is called Copper Red but the result is an iridescent amber / green color.

4) This shiny Butterfly bush (Buddleia) leaf could serve as a small serving plate (e.g. for ginger for sushi), or just decorate the house.  It features a single ladybug (Oxblood, and White Crackle for the eyes), and is glazed otherwise in #2 Copper Red.

Beautiful raku leaf pendants - pottery by Lily L
5) These 3 pendants were from a set of 6 I made a while back, from WSO sculptural clay and Davidii leaves.  The first 3 I glazed in the soda firing.  These were done in the raku firing.  If you take a look at the soda-fired leaves, they look very different.  Very different, but I think I like the vibrancy and green / black colors from the raku firing.

The remaining pieces, I have already wrapped, as they are a Christmas gift, but I already posted photos in the last post.

Monday, November 6, 2017

November Raku Session

I had all my pieces ready for the October raku session, but since there were not enough others who were ready, it was cancelled, and I had to wait a long month for the raku firing yesterday.  Surprisingly, the weather was really decent.  Cold, very cold, but clear and sunny.

I was pleased with how my pieces turned out.  Here are a few photos from yesterday's firing.

Here's a whole table of our treasures, from the 7 or 8 of us in the class.  Even though we had "Caution. Do Not Enter" tape blocking off the area, some people managed to slip in, to look at them.  One couple was pointing at my puzzle pots, and asking if they were for sale.  I answered "Not yet".

I made the shiny leaf decoration, the two big puzzle jars, 3 leaf pendants, one hosta leaf with ladybug, and 4 chess pieces.

Here's a look from the other side.  Nice colors on those puzzle vases, and beautiful shine on that leaf decoration.

The 4 chess pieces are a gift for my husband, who is a chess master.  I was toying with making an entire set, but decided to start with the 4 pieces, and see if he likes them.  (Even if he does, I'm not sure I want to invest the time required to make an entire set.)  It would have been so perfect if I could have fired them in October, as it was days before his birthday.  So now it will be a small Christmas present.  I think I'm okay, he never looks at my blog, and I'll wait until after Christmas to post them to Instagram.

I guess that's the best photos of my pieces so far.  I cleaned and waxed them tonight, but need to wait for some natural light to get some good photos.  Here is a photo of a nice one made by my friend Roma.  It is Clear crackle glaze over white clay (probably WSO) and turquoise slip.  Sweet.

I also brought home some new pieces from the Cone 10 gas firing, but need to find time and good lighting to take some photos.