Thursday, October 10, 2013

Leaving My Mark

In my first ceramics course, my classmate Angela stamped her pieces with a beautiful copy of her signature.  I was intrigued, and found out that she had ordered this custom stamp online.  So I was decided to investigate.

It was not hard to find a few websites which offered custom clay stamps.  I spent a couple of weeks playing with design ideas.  I knew I wanted my signature in combination with a drawing of a lily, or at least some sort of flower.  I ordered my 1" wooden stamp from, and received it just in time for this second course.  This is a sample impression of the stamp into wet clay (sorry for the out of focus photo, but I'm too tired to try again tonight) :
It has been a fun challenge to try to include my stamp in all of my pieces.  Especially since we have been mostly making mugs, and I like a trimmed or at least concave base, rather than a flat base.  So it has been a challenge.  I asked Angela yesterday if she had any tips for how to stamp her mugs (my classmates are WONDERFUL for providing advice and tips on anything they have learned - I owe them all so much!).  I discovered that she had an alternative stamp, with just a small "A", which she used for these difficult pieces.  Ha.  Maybe I need to consider that.  In the meantime, I find all sorts of interesting places to squeeze in my stamp.

So far, I have made 13 pieces out of grey stoneware, mostly mugs, and none of them as decorative as I would have liked, since I had a hard time keeping up making so many.  We were asked to make 5 or 6 good mugs, but it took me some tries (the first ones were too small!) to throw 5 or 6 which I was happy with.  Then I decided that since I had them, I would add handles to them all.  So I'm getting my money's worth of experience in this course, which focuses on the art of making handles.

I also ended up with 3 good sized mugs in the white stoneware.  All my mugs have now gone to the kiln shed, to dry and be bisque fired.  I'll need to be a bit more creative with the glazing, since I didn't have time to decorate with slip or stamps or sgraffito, as I would have liked.

This week's assignment was to throw 3 jugs or vases, for which we will make handles next week.  This time, I managed 3 reasonable sized ones on first try.  After throwing the 3 pieces, of about 4 to 4.5 pounds each, I was quite exhausted, and then played around with a few rolled pieces, which I hope will turn out decent enough to be a gift for my friend Lily.  We'll see.

I spend a good part of my non-working hours daydreaming about ceramics, and browsing the internet for ideas.  I am collecting and compiling into a binder, photos of pieces I have seen and liked, for inspiration.  When I am too tired to search for more, I just flip through the book.  I often wish I could increase my "play with clay" days from 1 per week to 2 per week.  But for now, I will enjoy what I have.  Besides, I don't know how I'm going to find homes for all the pieces I am making.  I don't know if I have so many friends.

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