Thursday, February 18, 2016

More Twisty Magic and Warren MacKenzie Inspired Pottery

Yesterday was a brilliant but exhausting (in a good way) day at pottery class.  Here are some of the highlights.

After last week's success with the twisty pots, I decided to try another, this one with white clay (my favorite is the Plainsman 570).  Again, I started by, forming the tall volcano, and flattening the sides, and decorating with black and turquoise slip, not worrying that the turquoise dripped a bit :

Then I scraped the sides :

For the scraping, I borrowed my friend Cindy's new scraper tool, which was sold as a cake decorating tool for $2 in a sort of Asian dollar store.   Nice find.

I was happy to try it out for her, so used 3 different edges, for 3 different textures.  Then I inserted my hand and the magic happened :
Twisty wheelthrown ceramic pottery by Lily L.
I think this is my best yet.  Nice bulgy belly, great color and texture, and the rim stayed intact.

I will have LOTS of trimming next week.  It will be our last chance to finalize anything before the bisque deadline, and then the following week we will be glazing before the glaze deadline.  It goes too fast.  Good thing we're done in March, and we start again the next term in April.  I am taking another course in pottery for the garden, probably a pretty close repeat to last year's, but that's fine with me.  I have lots I want to make for the garden also, including more totem pieces and small houses / cabins for my future "lake", etc.

I had a pot from last week which was just too ordinary for me, which I trimmed, and toyed with the idea of altering, but decided to spend more time throwing, so just decorated it in a simple set of slip dots :
The dots are a bit bigger and blobbier than I would have liked, since I decided to test out a hair color bottle as a slip applicator.  At least it didn't clog like my precision applicator sometimes does, and it only blurbed once on an air bubble.

I decided to throw some pieces in sculptural (WSO) clay, since I need 3 pieces for a one day raku firing in May, and that will be upon me before I know it.  So I tried to think of non-functional pieces which I could throw.  I started with one of my favorite shapes, the sphere, and also played with throwing a sort of sculptural piece.  I don't know if I'll continue with decorating "her" or not... (with apologies for a blurry photo) :

I also threw some flatter plates / bowls, which is not a usual shape for me.  I gave them decorative slip-trailed centers, and plan to carve them to be flowers.  Carving so that the recipient will not be tempted to use the sculptural clay (which apparently doesn't hold water well, even if high fired, but definitely not when raku fired, which is at a lower temperature) for liquids.  It could still be a fruit bowl or something like that. (Again, apologies for a blurry photo.)

But after throwing the sculptural clay, which is gritty, I was happy to go back to my white clay, and throw a few more.  Did I mention that I love the P570 white clay?

One of the ideas I saw a couple of days ago, since this week is the 92nd birthday of Warren MacKenzie, and there are lots of Warren MacKenzie photos and videos posted on Instagram, was the drop-rim bowl.  Once finished, it is said to have the illusion that the bowl is "floating" above the table.  So I thought I'd try my hand at it.  How hard could it be to flop an edge?  A little tricky, actually, but here is the result :
Warren MacKenzie inspired drop-rim pottery bowl by Lily L.

I'm very pleased with my progress with throwing, and altering, and making some funky items.  I can't wait to get through the next couple of weeks, and see the final pieces.  Although I would prefer if the course never had an "end", and I could just keep playing, with no deadlines and time pressure.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Magic on the Wheel

I mentioned in last week's post the magic which @pradoceramics on Instagram is able to create on the wheel.  Today I was able to re-create some of that magic myself, and I was very excited about the result.  Look at these 4 vessels I created :

I had realized since last week's attempts, that when I threw the initial cylinder, it would need to be thicker and narrower, and when I inserted my hand into it, it should be dry, to create the maximum friction.  That seemed to make all the difference.

The first vessel I created, had a bit of a twist, and some nice texture, which I created with one of the bamboo tools I made in the last few weeks.  That felt really good, to see the tool performing so well.

The second vessel, I was determined to make more twisty, so I brought it in nice and narrow, too narrow to insert my hand at the top.
...but when I did, the result was magical :

For my third and fourth vessels, I decided to play with some coloured slips, turquoise and black.  The first one, I applied the slips while round, and then mucked up the pattern while flattening the sides, so reapplied slip on top, then scraped with my profile tool, as shown in the following photos :

Here is the result, when pushed out (shown with the prior 2 in the background) :

I really like the colours, and the jagged edges / spines.  The rim split a bit also, but I don't know that it bothers me.  This is clearly not a vessel which someone will drink or pour from, so I don't think the split matters, and it suits the rough and jagged nature of the rest of the vessel.

With this success, I was excited to squeeze in another try, even though I was getting tired by that point.  But I'm glad I continued.  Here is the vessel with the slip (I remembered to apply it after I flattened the sides), then scraped, and finally the pushed out vessel :
Many people commented that they liked the colours of this one the best.  A little more subtle, but still much more interesting than the single clay body.  As you can see in the final photo, my bat-mate gave out its hold while I was pushing out the vessel.  So at first I pushed out quite out of shape (bulged to one side), but then I was able to slide the bat back into roughly the center, and pushed again, and straightened it out.

Here are the top three again :
...and from a different angle, since I just can't get enough of looking at these :
Next week I hope to trim up the bottoms, without losing too much of the texture and pattern.  I can't wait to see the finished product.  Not to mention, I will likely try more of these, considering the success I've had so far.

I have a few more items on the go, including more tools which I made in the morning.  Here is a peek at the other vessel, which I started two weeks ago, to which I added handles today.  The handles I had created last week broke, so I went with a "plan B" :
I went back to a snake-handle design, which funny enough, was one of the first handles I made, way back in my second ceramics course, in 2013, which was all about handles.  Check out this post, just for fun, for my snake-y handles.  This time, I gave the snakes extra-noticeable texture, even if not a realistic snakeskin texture.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Trimming and a Bit of Throwing

Today was a very busy day, in a good way.  Except that trimming seems so time consuming, and yields so little progress.  But I was happy to be able to trim :

1) All 3 tea bowls.
2) The 3 anvils - although I trimmed through 1 (first time for me), so will end up with only 2.
3) The 2 other tools, which I'm not sure what to call them, but they have pointy ends for cleaning up the edges of holes.
4) My set of 11 discs, of progressive sizes (cut from a tall pyramid), which are useful for trimming feet.  I borrowed one of Jay's bisqued discs today, and found it to be useful when trimming.
5) The 3 marbled pieces from last week.

Here are some of my pieces, which I remembered to take a photo of:

I already suspected it, but I learned that I should have held back on applying the sprigs last week to my marbled vases, since the marbling came out much crisper in the parts I trimmed.  I should have been able to trim and use my rib over the whole piece, then apply the sprigs.  Next time.

I applied a sprig, and hope to add handles to the marbled vase which I flattened.  I'll try to take a photo next week, when it's done.

I had enough time to throw a few more pieces.  I was inspired by Jose Domingo Prado (@pradoceramics on Instagram).  In particular, his wonderful twisted vases like this one :

He was wonderful enough to share videos of how he makes them, so I decided to try my hand at it.

So I made 3 attempts.  Not too much success, but partial.  The first one, the vase was too wide, so I just kept it.  The second one, I threw a cylinder :

Then I flattened it to have 4 sides :

Then gave it some texture :

Then I was able to push my hand in, and push out the sides, but it didn't twist, as Jose Domingo Prado demonstrated.  So tried another one that was more narrow, and with thicker walls, so I could push harder on it.  This is the result :

Ha ha, not quite the effect I was seeking.  I suspect his was a bit more firm, before inserting his hand, so they didn't just mush out easily like mine.  Neither vase is an award winner, but interesting enough, and attracting enough attention (people wanting to know what I was doing) so I'll probably try again.  After I watch Prado's videos again.  :-)