Sunday, February 22, 2015

Totem Pieces from Spring Ahead Course

I was happy to pick up 9 of the pieces for my garden totem today.  I have more on the way, and once I have time to assess where I'll put them in the garden, and how many I'll need for the totem height I choose, I'm sure I'll be making many more.  It will be my summer project.

Here they are.  All bear my stamp somewhere, so I won't mention :

Base for ceramic garden totem stained in iron oxide
#8 - This one was going to be the base for my totem, but since then I decided to make a base for my base, to be in better proportion to the other pieces.  So we'll see how that turns out.  This one was thrown on the wheel to be quite thick, then faceted with a cheese cutter / straight wire.  It is finished with Iron Oxide wash, which was wiped off, to leave more oxide in the cuts.  I like that effect, and the chocolaty color (yes, it's all equates to food for me!).

Ceramic piece for garden totem - crackled with sodium silicate.
#9 - I just posted my 7 sodium silicate crackle vases.  This is the first one I made, when I was still too timid about pushing out the sides.  So because of the shape and lack of crackle, I decided to make this one into a totem piece.  It was coated in Brown slip before crackling, but like my other vases, the Brown has mostly disappeared.  It is sprayed in Clear glaze on the outside.  The inside is unglazed.  I think it will handle the weather better than way.  Let's hope.  I am hoping, since I'm inherently lazy and don't know where to store them otherwise, to keep my totem out year round.  Maybe only draping it in plastic when Winter hits, so it won't get too wet (we don't really get cold in Vancouver, only wetness).

Sgraffito floral ceramic piece for the garden totem.
#10 - It is hard to believe this was Black slip applied to Grey clay, and then sgraffito'd.  It ended up a deep turquoise color.  But that's why I keep notes on all my pieces.  It is sprayed Clear on the outside.  I think the bold pattern will show well on the totem.  I carved a pattern that will look good right side up or upside down, since I don't know which way it will end up being added to the totem.

Ceramic piece for the garden totem, textured with wiggle wire.
#11 - Although my instinct is to decorate and use lots of colors, I tried to create some simple colored pieces for my totem, which will look clean from a distance.  Believe it or not, this piece, which was textured via wiggle wire, was sprayed in Sombright Green glaze.  The glaze shows a medium green where applied rather thick, and brown in thin areas.  So I guess I sprayed it pretty thin everywhere.  Again, good to know.

Ceramic piece for the garden totem.
#12 - According to my notes, I enhanced these scratched marks with Deep Blue (nice!) and Copper Red (??).  But Copper Red is quite finicky, and depends on the level of oxidation or reduction, and thickness of application and who knows what other factors.  So it ended up white.  Next time, I'll use Tenmoku or Khaki, which are much more reliable!  (See in comparison my jeweled vase #27 in this post.)

Ceramic piece for the garden totem, glaze in beautiful blue and brown.
#13 - I discovered the magic of combining Amber Celadon and Deep Blue glazes with this tray.  So I decided to use it again for this totem piece, and the combination did not disappoint.  I think this will make a nice chunky link in my totem.

Carved and colored floral piece for the ceramic garden totem.
#14 - This one features a carved floral pattern, enhanced with Teal overglaze (leaves), White glaze with Black overglaze (on the lily), Red underglaze (that underglaze performed!), Purple underglaze (which turned out pale blue), and a Yellow underglaze (which turned out white).  All sprayed with Clear glaze.  See this post for the colors when applied.  The colors may not have all worked as plan, but the overall effect is still a good one, and should go nicely on the totem.

Ceramic floral disk for the garden totem.
#15 - I made a couple of these slab-formed floral pieces to fit between the larger round and cylindrical pieces.  I would like to make more of them, when I have time.  I'm pleased with the result, the fact that it didn't crack at all, and the color (Carbon Trap Shino glaze) is quite pleasant.

Ceramic cap for the garden totem, with mosque-like dome spiral and ash yellow color.
#16 - For the cap for my totem, I was inspired by the gold dome (what's the proper name for that?) on some mosques.  The Amber Celadon glaze, applied quite thinly, was the closest to gold that I could think of.  I like the effect.  However, I fear that the cap may look a bit small in proportion to the other totem pieces.  We'll see, once I plant a rod of rebar in my yard, and start playing around with the pieces.  At that point, I'll know what worked and what didn't, and know what pieces to create next.

And finally today, I picked up some pieces which didn't meet the glaze deadline in the Fall, so continuing numbering from the #28 Mickey bowl, ....

Failed piece turned to ceramic crown, maybe for the garden totem.
Fall #29 - This was my first coil-built bowl which I didn't combine together carefully enough, so the bottom part fell out.  I decided to glaze it anyhow (Carbon Trap Shina), and then figure out what to do with a crown shaped piece like this.  It may go in the garden somewhere, maybe even as part of my totem.  We'll see.

Ceramic vase with ornate tile-imprinted design.
Fall #30 - This piece used imprints from the special tiles in our bathroom (which supposedly were imported from Spain).  The intent was to make a toothbrush holder bearing the same design as our tiles.  But the Bamboo glaze doesn't look anything like the Bamboo I've seen before.  So I don't know if the batch has changed that much, or I made a mistake and dipped in something else.  So it ends up not really matching our bathroom, it is more the color of the cabinetry in our kitchen.  So we'll see where this piece finally finds it place in the world.  When I solve the Bamboo mystery, I would like to try this one again, since I have some more ideas on how to create it.  And it could be a pretty awesome effect, if I could match closer the tile color.

Crackle Vases from Spring Ahead Course

Well, they were technically not something we even covered in the Spring Ahead course, but I discovered the sodium silicate, and was compelled to try it - a few times!  I tried all different kinds of slips and staining and glazing, to experiment with different effects.  These are the results.  They are all formed from Grey clay, and fired to Cone 10.

Large sodium silicate crackle wheelthrown pottery vase.
#1 - This big beauty started as a vase which I coated in Brown Slip, then sodium silicate, then pushed out while on the wheel.  I applied some Iron Oxide stain to the foot, and then wiped it off, hoping to accentuate the spiral pattern on the foot (which I really like - what do you think?).  Then the whole vase was sprayed lightly with Clear glaze.  What is surprising to me is that the Brown slip has mostly vanished from the top half of the vase.  Here it is before firing, it definitely had a full layer of Brown slip from the shoulder down.

It is not very visible in the photo, but I applied my stamp to the inside bottom of the vase.  I think that is a reasonable place, when I am trimming the foot (which sometimes is too dry to apply a stamp at that point), and don't have a good flat spot on the neck or shoulder to apply the stamp.

Beautiful sodium silicate crackled pottery vase with rich brown stain.
#2 - This vase was one of the ones which was just Grey clay, and after bisque firing I applied Red Iron Oxide wash to it, and then wiped it off, to leave it more concentrated in the cracks.  I like the rich chocolaty color.  I glazed with Khaki inside (which matches nicely the wash), and then sprayed a light layer of Clear on the outside.  This one bears my stamp on the shoulder.  It also features a spiraled bottom, which I added when trimming the foot.  I really like that effect, it is a nice surprise when you turn the vase over.

Sodium silicate crackled handmade wheelthrown pottery vase.
#3 - This little vase was also finished in Brown slip before crackling with sodium silicate, but the Brown seems to have mostly vanished.  It was sprayed lightly with Clear glaze inside and out.  It bears my stamp on the shoulder also.

Sodium silicate crackled ceramic / pottery vase in pink/red/white tones.
#4 - This was my Arizona Sunset vase (see it here before firing), colored with Red and Yellow underglazes before crackling, but the yellow from the sunset has disappeared in the Cone 10 firing.  Good to know.  It is still beautiful, but not as dramatic as I had hoped.  It was also sprayed Clear inside and out, so is very functional.  Nice size and weight.  Again, the spiral design underneath.  Stamped on the shoulder.

Sodium silicate crackled vase with teal stain to bring out the texture.
#5 - This vase was also just Grey clay, so I brushed it with Teal overglaze, then wiped it off, to leave the darker veins/cracks.  I really like the result of that.  The Deep Blue glaze inside matches well the strength of the Teal overglaze.  A thin spray of Clear on the outside give it a sheen and makes it quite practical.  Stamped in the neck/shoulder area.

Gorgeous sodium silicate crackle stoneware ceramic vase in blues and whites.
#6 - I really like the color combinations on this one.  I had applied Blue and White Slip to the sides before the sodium silicate magic.  Again, Deep Blue glaze inside and also on the top section of the vase.  That Deep Blue is one of my favorite glazes.  It may surprise, but never seems to disappoint.  For this one, I also dipped the bottom section in White glaze.  I like that.  Then it was sprayed Clear on the outside.  It bears my stamp on the inside at the bottom.

Beautiful sodium silicate crackle vase and blue and white.
#7 - This one was a bit of a surprise too.  I had applied Turquoise slip and a bit of Purple underglaze to the sides before crackling.  But it seems the Cone 10 has burned out the Purple entirely.  Again, good to know.  If my glazing notes hadn't indicated that I dipped the top and inside in White glaze, I wouldn't have noticed, since the freckles from the Gray clay still show through so clearly.  But it did leave the top feeling smoother than the bottom part, which is just sprayed Clear.  It is stamped on the inside bottom.

Overall, I'm very pleased by how these sodium silicate crackled vases turned out.  It is an effect which I hope to explore more in future.  Although I'm bit more wary about using slips or underglazes for color while creating them, and may choose the stain application on the bisqueware, which seems a more reliable way to get color, and bring out the crackly texture.

First Finished Pieces Picked Up Today

I picked up my first 16 pieces from the Spring Ahead ceramics course today, and 2 which were left over from the Fall.

After taking photos and making photo mosaics of all the pieces, I am too tired to post photos of them all now, but can post a few teaser photos.  7 of the pieces were sodium silicate crackle vases.  The other 9 were pieces for a garden totem.

Here are a few group photos of the vases.  First, in formation :
Sodium silicate crackle ceramic pottery wheelthrown vases.

Then in color groups (browns, blues, and reds) :
Sodium silicate crackle ceramic pottery wheelthrown vases.

And finally - for now - a photo of this adorable ceramic penguin which is NOT mine, it was created by my ceramics-friend Greg.  How cute is that? :
Cute ceramic pottery penguin sculpture.

Stay tuned for more photos soon, when I next have time and energy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Working Against the Deadline

After today, there are only two more classes in my Spring Ahead ceramics course.  Then it is Spring Break, and even after we return, I think there are no workshops until mid April.  So today was the last day to start new pieces.  So I started a number of new pieces.

For the most part, I was so busy, I didn't stop to take photos.  But here are some of the pieces I did manage to take photos of today.

This one is made from sprig molds our instructor had made from some doll heads.  The looked a little creepy on their own, but on an urn or planter, I think they are magical.   I didn't want to make a planter, since I don't do container gardening (I have too large of a garden already, and can't be bothered to water them).  But I think it would make an awesome pot for a wild flower arrangement or maybe even a serving container.  I can imagine it finished in an antiqued way (although I don't yet know how I will achieve that, other than to use some sort of staining & wiping).  It has 3 heads on it, so one is visible from just about any direction.  I toyed with adding 3 curly stubby handles, but I'm glad my fellow potters talked me out of it.  If for no other reason that it saved me a lot of time!

This one will be the base for my totem base, which was otherwise too small in comparison with the other pieces.  I had to guess the size of the other base (which will sit on top), since it's already in the kiln.  But if I get it wrong, I will add a flat piece in between, and make it work.  I find that often the key to success is being versatile.

This dome is one the pieces which I have been intending to try, ever since the instructor, Jay, demo'd it about 3 weeks ago.  It is thrown as a sort of cone or volcano shape, which gets closed in, and rounded.  I was very proud of myself for managing to throw that much clay, and actually closing it (after a couple of attempts in which I lost a chunk off the top, and had to pull up more clay).  Then the top is allowed to dry (I helped it along with the heat gun, since I was running out of time at the end of the day), and it is flipped over.  I don't have pictures of the next part, but the sharp edge is trimmed, a hole is made (so air can escape), and the flat top is gently slumped down with a soft rib.  So the result is what looks like a big clay pillow.  Sorry, the photo next time will explain better than my attempt with words.

I'm still working on pieces for my totem.  This one is a raccoon, thrown as a funky cylinder, and with a hole in the bottom already.  Can you see the raccoon?

What if I were to use some slabs of clay to add a few more features?  (I took him home, so I could spend a few hours fiddling around, since I ran out of time in class.)  Can you see the raccoon now? :
There's a reason they are called "washing bear" in many languages.  Mischievous little guys, and probably the culprits behind my broken sour cherry tree, and possibly even the cut down banana tree, but my garden totem wouldn't be complete without one.  And of course, the raccoon wouldn't be complete without hair and his beautiful striped tail :
Say what?  You want to see his face?  Okay then :
Little cutie.  I don't know if I can bear (pun intended?) to make a hole on the top of his head and add him to the totem anymore.   So maybe he'll need to be at the top of the totem, or I'll use another post and make him his own garden ornament, rather than being crammed into the totem.  We'll see.  I have at least a few days, if not the week, to decide.  What would you advise?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Glazed Over after all the Glazing Today

Today I glazed 17 pieces from this class, and 2 old pieces which were unfinished from the last term.  Most of the decorative pieces, I finished by spraying in Clear glaze, but I also experimented with various stains and underglazes / overglazes also.  I remembered to take a few photos of the pieces, as I went along.

For the two crackle vases in the center, I experimented with stains and underglazes to bring out the crackled texture.  I think these could turn out pretty nicely :

This carved piece for my garden totem is highlighted with underglazes (some which I bought recently, since the pottery studio doesn't have enough color choices available to me) :

These are all pieces for my garden totem.  I think I have 12 or 13 so far :

They look dull after spraying in Clear glaze, but I am looking forward to seeing the crackle vases when finished :

I also added the foot to my large bowl.  The instructor intended for us to make bird baths, but I don't have a good place for a bird bath, and a large bowl for the kitchen would be much more useful.

I also tweaked the tulip vases, so they will not look like morning glories anymore.  Didn't have my camera with me at the time, but I was very pleased by the final result.

Since I did most of my glazing this week (I only had 3 pieces left, and the others which are not bisqued yet), I hope to continue making more pieces next week.  Perhaps another large bowl, and the lantern for which I extruded a long rectangular section last week, but didn't have time to work on today.  I would love to throw some large pieces also, maybe make some more garden faces.  We have only 3 classes left, and although I will run out of time, I will definitely not run out of ideas.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tulip Vases, Garden Faces and Other Garden Projects

I am not keeping up with the projects demonstrated in class.   Various ways of creating the bowl and pedestal for a birdbath, and today some lanterns and sign posts.  But I am trying many of the techniques, learning lots, and ending up with some cool items.  Today I remembered to take some photos.
This is a set of "tulip" vases.  I was intrigued and inspired by the vase I bought before Christmas, which was extruded and thrown by Linda Doherty and carved/decorated by Sharon Reay.  Today we did some extruding, so I decided to challenge myself to make some of these.   When I was making them, I should have looked back in my photos of Linda's vase, since the rim of hers is pushed out like petals, and mine is flared without the petals, so shaped more like morning glories.  I had a feeling something was not quite as I remembered it...  Anyhow, I am pleased by how they turned out, and decided to make 4 different heights, so they could be a set.

I trimmed some of the pieces from last week, including this bowl with turquoise and black slip swirled on top, and this little piece which will be another part of my garden totem (I have more than a dozen pieces now, I think).

With everyone making very large bowls for their birdbaths, I decided to make a large bowl using a slab of clay slumped over a very large mould provided by our instructor, Jay.  I decorated the edge with one of my handmade clay stamps.  I think this could look pretty cool.  Although I'm thinking more indoor use, rather than garden.  I don't think I have a good place for a birdbath, nor do I feel up to the challenge of how to anchor it adequately into the ground (our yard is sloped everywhere, and we have lots of animals passing through).  So I would love to be able to attach a good foot, and make this a large serving bowl or fruit bowl for the counter.

Also from last week, are these two vases crackled with sodium silicate.  I think they will look wonderful once fired and clear-glazed, so the colours will be more vibrant.

Near the end of the class, I had an extruded cylinder to do something with, so I decided to make an open-bottomed planter.  I think it will be pretty cool, if I filled it with soil and planted an ornamental grass in it, or some other type of plant which will flop over the sides.  I have seen planters like this before, but I don't want an actual planter, I wanted it open at the bottom, so I could just place it on the soil, and not worry about it getting too wet or too dry...

Here is another angle.  I am super pleased with the result.  I like the serenity of it, and think it could look pretty awesome in the garden.