Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More Sculptures, Bowls and Vases from the Clay Sampler Course

Today I went into the studio to pick up 9 more finished items, and glaze the remaining ones.

Two of them are sculptures for my garden.  Both created from extruded B-Mix clay, and sprayed with "Very Black" stain.  I was told that they would survive in the garden better when unglazed.  Although I think I will pull them into the shed for the winter, so they won't go through unnecessary freezing or wetness :
#15 - This one is meant to sit right in the garden.  I look forward to identifying a home for it, and will be sure to post photos once it's out there.  The finish is a metallic sort of black, with a bit of lustre when in natural light.  I have my former teacher, Sabrina, to thank for pointing out to me how nice it will look in the garden.  The colour looked dull and disappointing when I pulled it off the shelf, but she walked me outside, and showed me how the colour performed in the sunlight.  It was at that point, I decided to go ahead with finishing my dragon in this colour, as I had originally planned.

#16 - This extruded sculpture will be suspended on a rebar rod.  I look forward to finding it a spot in the garden, also.

Two of them are more of the shallow bowls which I cut when the bowl was freshly thrown, and decorated with slip once leather hard.
#17 - I really like how this bowl turned out, and the design seems to complement the funky shape quite well.  It started as 800g of recycled clay.  It is decorated in White, Turquoise and Black slip.  The whole piece is dipped in Celadon glaze.  I decided to trim the sides of the bowl only, and leave the coiled wire pattern on the bottom.  I just sanded it a bit to smooth it.  It's funny but I like the speckled pattern in the clay.  I remember not liking this, in my first couple of classes, which is one of the reasons I switched from the grey clay to the white clay.  Now I think I appreciate the character it adds to the piece.

#18 - I like the vibrant colours of this bowl, decorated in Blue and Black slip.  The top is sprayed with Clear glaze (so it will go on fine and not interfere with the pattern), and for the bottom, I poured Deep Blue glaze over it.  The Deep Blue goes very nicely with the Blue slip pattern.  I really like how this turned out.  Even my stamp is clearly visible.

The remaining five are more extruded vases.
#19 - This one I dipped in Bamboo glaze, and then decorated by spraying Green and Teal overglaze with the airbrush attachment.  I held the Japanese maple leaves with my left hand, while I sprayed with my right hand.  The "surprise" on this one is that it is not actually a vase, it is a cylinder, since it dried too much before I could add a base.  But I think I will find a home for it, probably in the garden somewhere.

#20 - This one was formed in a similar way, also glazed in Bamboo and sprayed in Green and Teal overglaze, but this one bears the outline of an oak leaf.  It has a simple base, and is a nice size and weight for a cylindrical vase.

 #21 - This tall twisty vase was also glazed outside with Bamboo, but inside and on the rim with Matt Green.  Then a pattern (I think I was thinking sky with clouds, and rolling hills, but it came out a pretty pleasant abstract) was sprayed with Green and Teal overglazes.

#22 - This cylindrical vase / container with wonky top was finished with a sprig (from Charmian).  I brushed Deep Blue glaze on the sprig, then dipped the whole piece in Clear, and then sprayed Blue overglaze.  I like the blended effect.  The shape may not be outstanding, but the colours look very professional to me.  What do you think?

#23 - This one was a pretty big disappointment to me, because I had high expectations for it.  It started as an extrusion formed by combining several chunks of clay together.  The class divided up the results, and I ended up with what looked like a beautiful striped log.  So I was inspired to roll (that was not easy!) a wood texture pattern on it.  I was thinking to finish it like a chunk of wood, but the glazing did not achieve that effect.  Inside, I finished it with Khaki glaze, which actually looks very good.  But then I dipped the outside in Clear, and it gave everything a ghostly look, which I don't particularly like.  I'm not sure what I was thinking, but if I could redo it, I would pick a warmer colour.  Then, I noticed a crack (barely visible in that bottom left photo) which looks like there is a chip and a crack from top almost to bottom.  It could be a pressure crack, or it may have even been bumped somewhere along the process.  I may try to drip a crazy glue into the crack, and see if it fills it in.  Although I would suspect it is still watertight even without glue.

I glazed my remaining pieces today, but had the sad news that they won't actually be fired in the kiln for another 3 or 4 weeks, until the next set of classes finish, so my dragon will need to wait.  I took a few photos of my pieces as I glazed them, so will post photos when I have another opportunity.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

18 Clay Stamps from the Clay Sampler Course

In the last 2 lessons of the Clay Sampler Course, Charmian showed us various forms of decoration, including some stamping and sprigging.  I have been looking at various stamps online, but not willing to pay for them, so I decided it was about time I created some of my own.  Now that they have been bisque fired, I decided to pull out a soft lump of clay today, and try them out.  I'm very pleased by the result.

I created 9 two-sided stamps, so 18 designs total.  Here is the first set :

...and the second set :

Stepping through these...  The first two include some floral and spiral patterns :

The next two a funky daisy, dragonfly, floral pattern, and starfish :

The next two includes two abstract geometric patterns, and my fossil trilobyte and ammonite stamps :

Then two more abstract floral patterns (I really like that second one!), and a scallop-like geometric pattern :

And finally, another spiral, another abstract floral/fan sort of pattern, and a geometric that got a bit squished, so may not be very useful after all :

I can't wait until ceramics starts up again, and I can find ways to incorporate these stamps into some of my new works.  Stay tuned!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Sgraffito Vases and Extruded Vases from the Clay Sampler Course

One of the joys of being part of a studio in a community arts center is that you get great ideas from other students.  Some of my fellow students were taking a sgraffito workshop, so I decided it would be fun to try my hand at it, too, and the result was these two vases, both of which I am very proud to call my creations.

#11 - This vase was thrown from approximately 1500g of grey stoneware.  The sgraffito is a dogwood pattern, against a swath of Black slip.  It is finished with a spray of Clear glaze on the outside, and dipped / filled with Matt Green inside.

#12 - This vase was thrown from 800g of recycled clay.  The leaf pattern is sgraffito'd into Green slip, and the outside is sprayed with Clear glaze, the inside filled / dipped in Amber Celadon.

#13 - This intentionally twisted extruded vase was created with B-Mix, which is a stiff white stoneware clay.  It is glazed inside and on the top & bottom edges in Matt Green, decorated with dots and lines of Matt Green, and splatterings of Deep Blue glaze, and then the outside dipped in Celadon.

#14 - This vase was from the same extrusion, just a longer piece.  It is also finished with Matt Green glaze inside, but the floral pattern was created with Green and Teal underglaze, and then the outside dipped in Celadon glaze.

There were a few more extruded vases, but still in the kiln when I last checked.  So hopefully I can pick them up later this month.

Extruded Containers from the Clay Sampler Course

In two of our classes, Linda Doherty taught us how to make items from extruded clay.  This was the first time I played with extrusion, and it seemed like magic to me, how the clay, with very little effort, could be shaped into tubes and other shapes.  The hard work was to refine and finish them.  This set of 3 containers / trays / boxes were extruded as a long piece, then the ends mitered and end sections added.  The extrusion already had the built in foot.  Pretty cool.  The resulting containers are 9", 13" and 18" long.

Here they are, one by one :
#7 - The 9" one I finished off as a simple rectangle.  I'm still not sure what it will be used for, but resisted the urge to make it a planter, since I wanted to decorate the inside.  The inside is dipped/filled with Matt Green glaze, then I sprayed the bottom with Tenmoku glaze, and also held down a fern frond, and sprayed with Tenmoku lightly.  It was very difficult to hold down the fern against the force of the sprayer, so the edge is not very distinct, but I like the general effect.

#8 - The 13" one I finished off as a rectangle also, and also with Matt Green and Tenmoku, and the outline of a fresh fern frond.

#9 - The 18" one I undulated the sides when it was leather hard.  I like the resulting effect.  In this case, I dipped it in Bamboo glaze, but used under/overglazes, sprayed with an airbrush attachment, to outline the fresh Japanese maple leaves.  First I sprayed some with Green, then another layer with Teal.  It was really hard to hold the leaves down, but they still provided great silhouettes.  I think this will be a technique I will try again.

#10 - Not being one to throw much if anything away, I ended up with this piece of extruded clay from building the long containers, and decided that this could be a plate stand, napkin holder, or business card holder, or something.  Anyhow, it is finished in Celadon and Matt Green.  Here it is, holding up one of the plates :
It seems to work okay, as long as the plate is not too heavy.

First 6 Decorated Bowls from the Clay Sampler Course

The Clay Sampler Course was fun, we had 4 different instructors, with 2 classes each.  So we were exposed to lots of different techniques, and expertise.  I was happy to pick up some of my finished pieces this week. There are still more in the kiln, and some more pieces I have yet to glaze.  But here is the first set...

The first 6 items are a set of shallow bowls which Jay showed us how to create, using a "cow's tongue" to flatten the bowls without slumping, and using a soft template and cutting the clay while still fresh.  It was a pretty neat technique, and created some funky shapes fairly quickly and easily.  Although we did trim the bottoms once leather hard, so that took a bit more time.

I decided I would experiment with some more slip trailing, but the results were not always what I hoped.  Many times when I tried to draw out a line, the slip didn't come out as a stream, but rather as dots.  Other times, I had a bubble of air, or for whatever reason, the slip sputtered out all over my pattern.  In some cases, I wanted the slip to be fluid, but the clay absorbed the liquid too fast, so I didn't get the effect I had hoped.  Many of my designs were the "plan B" to what I had originally intended, but I like to just "go with it", and see where the materials take me.  For the most part, I'm pretty pleased with the result.

#1 - For this bowl, I started with about 900g of B-Mix, which is a rather firm white clay.  I added a background of White slip with my finger, and a design in Black and Turquoise slip.  Once it was bisqued, I sprayed the top with Clear glaze, then waxed it, and dipped the whole thing in Matt Green.  That didn't work too well, with a lot of Matt Green clinging to the waxed top.  So I ended up wiping it off.  Where I hadn't wiped it completely clean, I can barely detect Matt Green smudges, but they don't seem to detract at all from the design.  I like the Matt Green bottom.  It is a nice contrast to the top, and I like the matt feel of it.  As you see, I stamped it on the bottom side, but Matt Green seems to be a glaze which doesn't let the pattern show through well.

#2 - This bowl started as 800g of recycled clay.  I had switched over to recycled (a mix of mostly white and grey clay) since after centering and throwing a few bowls with the B-Mix, I was getting too tired fighting with it.  In the center, I had laid down rings of Blue and Black slip, and had tried feathering it, but it was a bit dry and didn't feather much.  I can't remember what I was trying to do with the White slip originally, but it splattered on me, so I added a splatter pattern all over the bowl to make it look intentional.  On the back, I poured Deep Blue then Matt Green glazes.  Then I sprayed top and bottom with a light coat of Clear glaze.  This is one of my least favourite, but all of the bowls were a good learning experience, allowing me to experiment with different techniques.

#3 - I like this bowl, which started as 900g of B-Mix.  I added a background of White slip, then started adding rings of Black and Turquoise.  At some point, the Turquoise splattered, and that inspired the splattery pattern around the outside, with Black dots for character.  The back is glazed in Deep Blue and Matt Green, and then I sprayed both top and bottom in Clear, for a shiny effect.

#4 - This is a fun bowl.  It started as 900g of B-Mix, with a slip pattern in Blue, Black and Green.  It was sprayed top and bottom in Clear, and then I waxed the inside of the bowl, leaving a border along the rim, and then dipped the whole piece in Matt Green.  I like how the glaze added a strong green border to the design.  My stamp on the outside is barely visible, under the Matt Green.

#5 - This bowl started as 850g of recycled clay.  I can't remember if there was a reason why I chose a heart shape, but this one I cut freehand, no pattern.  The slip pattern is Turquoise, White and Black.  The inside of the bowl was sprayed in Clear glaze, and for the outside/back, I poured Oatmeal then Celadon.  The Celadon gives the outside hints of turquoise, which match nicely with the turquoise inside.

#6 - This bowl made the 2 days of effort worthwhile.  I love the effect.  It started as 1000g of recycled clay.  I had added Turquoise slip, and was planning to recreate something like the sunflower bowl I created in the last course (#22 in this set).  But when I started adding White and Black slip along the rim, it dried too quickly and refused to run down to the center, so I decided to "help it along" and created this mottled texture with my fingers.  The inside of the bowl is sprayed with Clear glaze, for a nice shine, and the back is finished in the rich chocolate colour of the Amber Celadon glaze.  My stamp shows through nicely at the back.

I really love the unique handmade look and feel of this bowl, and when you turn it over, the chocolate colour is a pleasant surprise, you would otherwise expect turquoise.

Looking at my log book (which is a GREAT help to me, to keeping track of my pieces, and remembering what glazes and slips I used), I still have 2 more bowls which I didn't find this time, so will need to pick them up at next opportunity.