Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Focused Workshop Sessions

I am so happy to be back in the studio for July, as June and August the studio is closed.  Since I'm not in a class, I have only 4 hour workshops on Wednesday and Sunday.  So I have been very focused during those times, making as much as I can, as my head it exploding with ideas of things I want to try.

I have been trying to make items suitable for the horsehair raku workshop in September, but I keep getting distracted by other ideas.  Sunday I threw, trimmed and added pedestals to 3 plates, along with throwing a nice little vase, and an egg, both of which would be suitable for the horsehair raku firing.

Today I decorated all 3 footed plates, with a seashell design, trimmed the little vase, and then made another bowl with 3 feet by draping a textured slab over one of my hump molds.

Here are the 3 pedestal plates before decorating :

...and after decorating :

One by one :

...and that slumped bowl, which I haven't turned over yet :

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Midnight Raku Fired Pieces

Recently I had the absolute pleasure of participating in a Midnight Raku class.  It started on the Friday night with wood fired pizza, then glazing, and we started firing 8:30pm (a bit earlier than the 9pm that was planned) and went until 1am.  By the end of it, some of us were fading a bit, but we all went home happy, smelling like campfire, and treasuring our precious raku fired pieces.

I had signed up for the midnight raku session at the end of June back in January, but only realized in my last two classes at the end of May, that the studio was pretty much closed for the whole month of June.  So I quickly had to make some pieces, as I refused to drop out of such a fun event.

So these are the four pieces I pulled together, just after glazing them :

And here they are, at midnight, just after firing them :

And in the sunlight, where the true colors are best seen:
Beautiful raku fired pottery by Lily L.

Beautiful raku fired pottery by Lily L.

Beautiful raku fired pottery by Lily L.

Beautiful raku fired pottery by Lily L.

Not bad for quickly created pieces.  As the raku pieces are non-vitrified, and not supposed to be food safe, so effectively non-functional, I like to pierce my pieces, so they can only be used to hold dry items, or candles, or the like.

Here's a few process shots :
Red hot pottery pieces, during a recent raku firing workshop.
The raku kiln, with the pieces red hot at 1860 F, just before being carried out by tongs, and placed into a bed of newspaper and sawdust, and covered with a metal can.

The "burping" process, where the cans are tipped up, and the combustibles allowed to ignite again, or helped along with a small blow torch.  This apparently causes the oxygen to be consumed, providing a good reduction.  The pieces are allowed to smolder in the cans for 10 minutes (we have one person designated as a timer), and then they are again carried by tongs, to an area where they are doused with cold water.
It was quite dramatic working in the dark, by the light of a spotlight, with the steam billowing up around the pieces.  We couldn't help ourselves but to hover around, waiting until the pieces were cool enough to touch, so we could admire the results.

Beautiful raku pottery pieces, at Shadbolt Center for the Arts in Burnaby BC.
Then we scrubbed them up a bit, and set them out on a table, where we could admire them, and compare notes, while we waited for the next batch to come up to 1860 F, and then repeated the whole process again.  All night, 6 to 8 pieces in the kiln at a time.  What a wonderful way to spend a night!

One of our classmates, Wilf, was making beautiful native style masks, such as this one, which he modelled for a photo :
… and this one, which broke into various pieces during the process, but when glued back together, will be outstanding :

I am already looking forward to my next raku courses.  I have a horsehair session in late September, following by raku workshops in October and November.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

More Results from the Pit Firing

Since the pit firing, I've done another raku firing, and also picked up some more pieces from last term today.  So I thought I'd better post a few more pit fired pieces.

3) This little pinch pot turned out better than I could have imagined.  When we started the class, Linda handed us a chunk of Plainsman H490 clay (affectionately known as "baby poo"), and we sat around a table making pinch pots.  My first attempt was a big floppy thing which didn't even stand up to its own weight, but when I looked around and saw others making something which actually stood up, I got mad, squished it up into a ball of clay, and started again.  I'm glad I did.

All our pieces were burnished so they have a smooth and even glossy finish.  This one was burnished with a piece of plastic bag while leather hard, and also with a spoon once bone dry (adding a bit of oil to help with the burnishing process).

The imprints are from ferns, wrapped around the pot.  I'm not super certain, but after wrapping ferns leaves around this pot (I may have used a bit of jute ribbon to hold it in place), I believe I placed it into a paper bag, and filled it with sawdust around.  Once fired, it was waxed and polished.  Quite a remarkable result, one I am very pleased with.

4) This is a very sweet bottle.  Since the items are "non-functional", I tried to make a narrow neck, so there would be less temptation to fill it with water and flowers.  It was also formed from H490 clay, this time approx 800g thrown on the wheel.  It was also burnished, and then saggar fired, quite likely in a paper bag again, surrounded by sawdust, but also wrapped in fresh ferns.  I love how the pattern of the fern fronds comes through so clearly but naturally.  The neck I believe was finished with black terra sigillata.  Again, waxed and polished once fired.  I'm very pleased with the result.

5) This egg is quite interesting.  It was thrown from 800 - 1000g of WSO clay, and then when bone dry, coated in yellow terra sig (my notes indicate I may have then added white terra sig on top), and burnished with plastic or a microfibre cloth (I experimented with both).  It was saggar fired in aluminum foil, to which I added various organic materials.  One which shows through as a sort of scaly pattern (especially on the bottom) is the steel mesh from a steel kitchen scrubbie.  Or was it copper?  We were very busy that day, I took a few photos, but no time for notes on what I used.  Although we are sure that the little grey caked-on spots were created by fertilizer pellets.  Some of the terra sig also seemed to flake off, adding further variation and interest.

6) As these are non-functional pieces, I made a lot of egg shapes, as they are beautiful for display, but there is no temptation to use them for kitchen or floral purposes.  I believe this one was coated in white terra sig and burnished.  This sweet little thing shows a really nice variation of color from whites and yellows almost to black.  It also has a distinct pattern on it, I seem to remember it was a cedar branch instead of a fern frond.  And held against the pot with glue while I stuffed it with other combustibles.  Sweet result.

7) This is a fun little egg.  It was thrown from 750g of H490 brown clay, and then Linda indicated that the red terra sig would provide a very similar color to the H490, so I decided to test that out, and applied bands of the red terra sig.  I believe it was then saggar fired in a paper bag.  It shows a nice discoloration on one side, as if it was burnt by the pit fire, which it effectively was. 

8) For this egg, I decided to round out the bottom, so it is more like a true egg.  It can sit upright or lay on its side equally well.  It was thrown from WSO clay, and finished in green and blue terra sig before being saggar fired in the pit.  It bears a distinct pattern from fern fronds which were wrapped around it.  And a dark blotch on one side.  Quite an interesting egg, with lots going on.

9) For this and the next egg, I can hardly tell which photos belong to which one.  They both have beautiful charcoal/black finishes, with some blues and other variations.  This one may have been the WSO clay egg which I finished in blue terra sig.  It has some scales or lines on it (top right) which were formed from strands of a pulled-apart copper or steel scrubby.  It also has marks which are indicative of the fertilizer.  Other than that, I can't remember which other combustibles I wrapped it in before the aluminum saggar.  Anyhow, I'm pretty pleased with the overall impact.

10) This one is more likely the white terra sig, which polished up more glossy than the other colors of terra sig.  It was saggar fired in aluminum foil, with various combustibles, and has some nice variations in color, against a very dark, mostly black, background.

11) Linda had a neat idea, to thrown a pot and use sodium silicate to push it out and create a crackle effect, and then pit fire it.  So I seem to remember (I'm too lazy to hunt for my in progress photos) that this one was brushed in blue terra sig before adding the sodium silicate and pushing it out.  But then when it was bone dry, I applied white terra sig and polished up the top and bottom, to contrast nicely with the rough, crackly surface.  I seem to remember this one was saggar fired in a paper bag, as I didn't want to add more patterns to an already busy surface.  It looks like something which has been dug up after a very long time buried in the ground, or pulled out of the rubble of a fire.

That's it for the pit firing.  A very enjoyable process of making the pots, and an exciting process of preparing them for the pit, and some very fine results.  A very successful course, and I would be happy to take another course like this again.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Beauties From the Pit Firing - Clay Goddesses

I recently finished a pit firing class, and both the process and results were spectacular.  These are a few of my favorite items, and I will post more once I take some more photos.

1) I think my pit fired goddess was the most spectacular.  She is beautiful beyond my expectations.  Here are a few more views (although her shine and color show through so much better in that outdoor photo):

While I was at it, I made another clay goddess:
2) I think of her as a goddess amulet.  She is tiny, but powerful.

The pit firing itself was an exciting process, one of forming the items, sometimes burnishing them with a silver spoon, drying them, brushing them with terra sigillata (a suspension of fine clay particles), burnishing them with plastic grocery bags or microfibre cloths until they shined, bisque firing them (to a temperature lower than our usual cone 06 - I think Linda say cone 010), then preparing them for a saggar firing in aluminum foil, within a bed of organic materials.

My goddesses were offered rose petals as part of their organic materials :
The larger goddess was wrapped in rose petals, copper strands, ferns, sawdust, moss, among other materials.  The smaller goddess was laid in a bed of roses, with a moss blanket, among other organic materials.

Then they were tightly wrapped in the aluminum foil (2 layers), and lowered into the above-ground firing pit, and covered in sawdust, before firing them.
We returned the following week to pull our pieces out of the ashes.
These are a number of my pieces, fresh out of the pit firing, some of them waxed and polished, and others waiting to be polished, which brought out their colors and shine.

It was a truly remarkable and satisfying process.  If you ever get a chance to participate in a pit firing, I would recommend the experience.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Ammonite and Raku Firing

Today was a gorgeous sunny day, and a very enjoyable raku firing.  I finally fired my big ammonite which I have been saving for a few months now.  But first we fired some of my smaller pieces.

This one was going to be a vase, thrown in two parts, and assembled :

But I didn't have enough pieces for the raku firing, so I finished them as two separate pieces :
I was very pleased with the little beaker shaped piece, which is unglazed black, with the frog glazed in Red Bronze Copper Lustre, which thankfully turned green.

The vase is Oxblood at the top, in the textured area.  In the lower part, I was debating whether to leave it unglazed (black), or to use the MultiColor Copper Sand, which is usually a very matte, gritty finish, with some hints of iridescent colors in it.  But today it decided to become a shiny copper.  Dang.  I'm not sure I like it yet, when I was trying for a gritty ultra-matte finish.

I also finished my snail shell.  It is Oxblood, Richard's Raku (clear crackle) over yellow underglaze, and the Richard's Raku glaze.  But funny enough, over the Columbia Buff w/ Grog clay, it turned out a flesh / pink color.  And even though I brushed two or three coats, I didn't seem to get it thick enough to get any crackle.  Overall, I am still pleased with this result, and the fine black lines I was able to achieve between the colors.

Finally, we fired the monster ammonite.  I had finished most of it in Multicolor Copper Sand, trying for a rough texture, and the cut / polished part of it in Oxblood and unglazed black.  But I was beginning to worry whether I would get a shiny copper ammonite.  I guess that could have been okay too, but just not what I was hoping to achieve today.

Here it is, out of the firing, getting doused with cold water:

... and sitting on the table in the sunshine :
It turned out partially a matte greenish / blackish color, and partially a shiny copper.  The red and black turned out nicely.  Although looking at it now, an iridescent finish there would have been okay also.  Maybe for the next one.  As I think there will be more in my future, even if these are very time consuming.  I am still very intrigued by this shape, and hope to explore it more.

As always, the raku didn't disappoint in terms of drama.  Heat and flames and smoke (it would be even more dramatic if I wasn't too lazy to crop my photos before uploading them) :

As always, the class was fully of inspiration, and it was fun to see the diversity of pieces :
Some of my favorites today were the silver birch vases.  They don't show well in this photo, but they were very knarly and natural, and the whites and blacks were wonderfully contrasted.

Perhaps this is a better photo:

This was also a delightful little piece, so refined in comparison (with the squished pots also, that is fun) :

Here are my four pieces again, taken inside, before bringing them home :

I spent some time tonight adding wires for hanging my 3 ammonites and 1 snail shell.  If all goes well, I'll find some time to hang them on my office wall at work.  I've been thinking of it for some time now.  I'll leave a spot for the one which is still on student display.

I also had a chance to pick up two mugs which came out of the gas kiln.  But I'll need to take photos and post those another day.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Some Sweet Pieces Find a New Home

I sold a few pieces recently.  So bittersweet to let them go, since both of them were favourites of mine.

This octopus trinket box, I had told myself - and my son - that I didn't plan to sell it at all.  But a friend from my pottery class asked for it for her nephew.  I am trying to learn the discipline of travelling light in this world (my instinct is to be a hoarder, and keep everything), so in a moment of determination, I offered it to her, and she accepted.  I gave her a very good price, half of what I would have considered selling it for in a store, but then again, they usually only give you 50% - 70% of the sale price.  So in that way it was reasonable.

So I took a few photos of my octopus, and apologized to my son, who gave me the idea of the octopus originally, and also told me I had promised not to sell it.  I'm happy that he will be in a home where he will be appreciated.  Not that he's not appreciated here, but I really do have a LOT of pottery already in the house, and much more on the way.

This is a weird angle, but kinda fun.

The other piece I let go was my little sugar skull from a workshop with David Robinson.  My good friend Roma wanted it, and she asked me early enough that I was able to ask her which glaze she wanted.  Her choice of Ash Yellow over the black slip and white clay was a great choice.  I'll use that one again.

Here are a couple more photos :
Good-bye sweet skull.  I have two more in progress, which I need to glaze and fire.  So hoping they will turn out as awesome.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Mickey and Minnie Platter

I don't think I ever posted the Mickey and Minnie platter I made for my sister, since I was keeping it a secret for Christmas.  So I'm posting a few now.

It was made from one of my styrofoam moulds and extruded rim and feet.  The handles were my from my imagination.

Here it is from the back :
I think the little Mickey and Minnie on the bottom are a cute finishing touch.

It may be dark in the photo, but it is B-Mix clay highlighted with black slip, and then sprayed Clear.

The Mickey and Minnie pattern was created with cookie presses, into which I brushed black slip (looking at it now, I should have watered it down a LOT), let it firm up, and then scraped it off.  The timing was tricky, as it needed to be dry enough to clean up these imprints, but also needed to be pliable enough to drape it over the styrofoam mould.

It now has a great home in my sister's house, surrounded by lots of other Disney stuff, including some Disney inspired pottery I've made previously.