Thursday, April 23, 2015

Throwing Pieces for the Raku Course

The course starts next week, but I bought my sculptural clay and starting throwing this week already.  I got off to a slow start, taking the first hour to trim two pieces from last week.  Then in the remainder of the drop-in session I threw the following 6 pieces.

I love the shape of this first one, and was amazed that it is almost exactly what I had set out to throw.  I was trying for this flattened top, and may try to do some piercing work on the top.  I'm seen something similar, which I liked.

This second one I liked less.  It looks like it can't decide what shape it wants to be.  But it does have a nice viewable surface at the top for decoration, so I think it will work out well.

I'm not sure about this third one, the shape is very unexciting to me, but I think with some decoration I can make something of it.

It looks a bit like a wasp nest, but I think this piece will be an easy one to decorate.  I found that the sculptural clay was very easy to throw, but challenging to finish with an even edge on the top.  I kept having the edge break on me, as I brought it in, so I was pleased and surprised to end with it fairly close to what I had set out to throw.

The first four were thrown from 1200 to 1400 g of clay.  I was thinking simple cylinder when I threw this one, but with 700 g of clay, I had a bit more than I needed, so I pulled in the top, and I am SUPER happy with the shape of this one.  It already looks great to me, and it's not even decorated.

So I tried again with 500 g of clay, and got the cylinder, which I want to turn into a pierced candle holder.

So this is my 6 items.  Not bad for 3 hours of throwing (minus cleanup time).

So as I understand it, I'll need to trim and let these dry, and then apply terra sigillata before sending them to the bisque firing.  So I have much work ahead of me, but I'm excited and already dreaming of which raku techniques I can apply.  We'll be experimenting with naked raku, horsehair raku, obvara (yeast) raku and others.  I can't wait.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Back in the Studio Again and Ready to Raku

I was so happy to be back at the studio this week.  It seems like I've been away forever.  Anyhow, it is still 2 weeks before my Raku course will start, but I wanted to do a bit of throwing and playing around with clay in the meantime.  I've resisted playing with clay on my kitchen counter.

I am following @pottery_oregonized_by_jack on Instagram, and he keeps teasing me with photos of twisted pottery such as this one:
Isn't that funky?  I say "teasing", since he seems to ignore requests to reveal secrets on how he does this.

Anyhow, still being more daring than skilled, I having been thinking that I've got to try something like this.  So I trying throwing a pot, pushing in the sides with a straight edge, and then with my finger, and I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to twist my pot like this.  But the result still turned out fairly funky, even if not what I wanted :
Stoneware clay pot in progress.
Perhaps my sides are too thick, I need to throw them thinner.  But I also wondered that if I let the pot dry a bit more, I could grab and turn it more easily.  So I made another attempt:
Stoneware clay pot in progress.
This time I could tell that my sides were not going to yield enough to twist them, but I decided to go ahead with a funky pattern and make the best of it.  Not too bad of a result.

Stoneware clay leaf pendants and beads in progress.
I then did a bit of slab work (actually, while I was waiting for that second pot to dry a bit).  These are formed from leaves from the garden, pressed into the clay.  I added the holes so they can be pendants or beads, and maybe my friend Shelley will be able to incorporate them into her handmade jewelry.  I don't know if I've made the holes big enough, since they will shrink.  Oh well, I have all spring and summer to try again, until I get it right.

Handmade stoneware clay sushi plate in progress.
This was also a slab, decorated with rollers.  I was thinking of a sushi plate.  I added coil feet, but just as my time was running out, so I didn't get photos.

I also created a bowl from a similar pattern, and managed to add a coil foot, also just as my time was running out.

Stoneware clay hollow double-walled thrown bowl in progress.
This is a bowl I created in my last class, and just sent it to the bisque firing now.  It was quite challenging.  It was thrown as a large dome, then when dry enough, turned upside down, and the bottom trimmed and smoothed, and with a hole to let the air out, slumped it and worked it into a smooth concave shape.  I then added a really solid thrown foot.  I don't know what it will be practical to use it for.  It was a "bird bath", but I have no intention of using it for that.  But I think the shape is quite pleasant, and one day I would like to use that technique again to create more double-walled bowls / basins.  Maybe I'd carve or cut holes into the outside wall, that could be pretty cool, and would take away some of the unwanted weight also.

Next week I think I'll buy some sculptural clay, and start creating some forms which I'll use in the raku firing.  My classmate and friend, Bev, very kindly spent time showing me pieces she made in a previous raku course, so it has given me enough ideas to try a few things.  Stay tuned.