Sunday, May 29, 2016

Better Photos of Floral Raku Plates and Bowls

Today was a bright day, so I took a few more photos of my 3 floral plates / bowls from the raku workshop earlier this month.

My favourite is this plate featuring a bright red flower :
Floral raku-fired pottery ceramic bowl / plate by Lily L.

Here's a detail view of the rim (love that crackly glaze) and center (I'm pretty pleased by the color and texture) :
Details of a floral raku-fired plate by Lily L.

This bowl is also quite pleasing, but the red is not as vivid, it is more of a dark pink.  Perhaps less reduction (lack of oxygen from the combustion) or thinner application of the glaze.
Floral raku-fired ceramic / pottery bowl by Lily L.

A detailed view of the bottom, and center:
Details of a floral raku-fired ceramic bowl by Lily L.
I love the feel of the bottom.  It looks crackled, but the feel is very smooth.  The center didn't turn out as yellow as I had hoped, but I still like the effect.

Finally, the yellow flower plate.  This one is not as vivid as I had hoped, but it is still pretty nice.

Floral raku-fired ceramic plate by Lily L.

Here are a few detailed views:
Details of a floral raku-fired ceramic plate by Lily L.
You'll see in the top photo, as well as maybe the bottom left, the turquoise glaze didn't fully "mature", resulting in some weird bubbles, which break and form sharp edges.   A few of my classmates had the same issue with that same glaze, during that same firing, and unfortunately one of them cut herself while cleaning up her piece.  Tony suggests it is because it was the final firing of the day, and we rushed it a bit to the target temperature (1860 F).  He has offered to re-fire those pieces in the next raku workshop in October, and I may take him up on it, since grinding the rough spots with a sharpening stone didn't really clean them up, it just took the really sharp edges off.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wrapping Up the Garden Pottery Course

I missed class today for an appointment, but planned to use the drop-in workshop for throwing some new pieces, which I would then finish Sunday, and then come back to glaze them when Shadbolt Center re-opens again in July, as it is closed almost the whole month of June.  But I also had some leftover clay, including recycled clay, with which I thought I would do a little hand building.

I started with glazing my tall house garden structure :
I sprayed it with a glaze called Sombright Green.  It appears brown in places where it is applied very thinly (I'm hoping parts of the roof and the birds will be brown), and a chartreuse green where applied thick enough.

After that, I pulled out my bits and pieces of clay, and started some hand building.  Pretty soon the workshop was almost over, and I hadn't done any throwing, but I had some wonderful bowls to show for my work.  In the last half hour, I realized that if I could rush them to firm up (using a heat gun) enough to put feet on them, then I wouldn't need to even return on the weekend to finish them up.  I would just wait until they dry, and transfer them to the kiln shed to be bisqued.  So that's what I did.

Let's start with the result, here are 3 of the bowls, lying upside down, with their feet attached :
Coil clay / pottery bowls by Lily L, in progress.
I'm really pleased with the result, although I don't so much like the button feet on the shell bowl, but I didn't have time to come up with fussier feet.  The others have a simple ring, to match the ring I added to the rim.

They are formed from red clay (which I finished off completely) and grey recycled clay.  I hope that the shrinkage of these two different clay bodies will be similar enough that I won't run into problems with cracking or pulling away.  I got one comment on my Instagram post already, that another potter tried a similar thing, but unsuccessfully.  So here's hoping.

The method is pretty simple, although time consuming.  They were each built inside a bisqueware mold.  This one using coils of clay:

Then I add more clay, which I smooth out (while not pressing so hard as to destroy the texture of the clay against the mold):
For the coiled bowl (top in this photo), I played with adding both red and recycled clay on the inside of the bowl.  For the other bowls, I just used one type of clay.

Here is the rough textured bowl, before adding more clay and a rim, and smoothing it out:
For each piece, I used one of my handmade bamboo tools to add some rough texture, then pressed it into the mold.

For the third bowl, I used one of my handmade bisque sprig molds to create the shell / nautilus shape, and then pressed different colored balls of clay into the sprig mold, and lined these up inside the mold.
Nautilus / shell clay / pottery bowl by Lily L.
I really wish I had more time, to come up with more creative feet for this little guy.  But anyhow, I think it still turned out quite fine.

I had one last piece I created today, but I just realized I had not taken a photo of it.  It was a rectangular bowl / plate made with a roller pattern, and then formed over a rectangular mold.  I added some nice feet to it.  I'll have to remember to take a photo when I transfer it to the kiln shed.

It feels good that I have pretty much finished everything off, and just waiting on some items to be bisqued and other items to come out of the gas firing.  I have some pieces reserved for a soda firing in July, otherwise there is nothing which needs my attention.  Which is actually a nice feeling, at this point in my life, which is otherwise quite hectic.

Stay tuned for more pottery in June, as I am signed up for a couple of weekend workshops, and I suspect that the leftover clay in my garage may not stay there all month, either.  :-)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Raku Workshop Treasures

Today I had the pleasure of attending another raku workshop with Tony Wilson at Shadbolt Center for the Arts (see results from the previous raku workshop here).  I came home smelling like a campfire, tired, and very happy with my new treasures, and with my memories of a fun and exciting day with old friends and new ones.

Since the raku firing is at a relatively low temperature (1860 F or Cone 06), the clay is still somewhat porous and the glazes don't form a watertight seal either, so the items are not considered food safe or suitable for holding water.  So I carve my items, so they can be enjoyed for decoration or for holding dry objects (fruit should be okay), but not for holding liquids.  These are three of the items I fired today :
Beautiful raku fired floral pottery plates and bowls by Lily L.

I am happy with both of the plates / platters.  The red is the raku glaze.  The yellow is an underglaze, which was covered by a clear crackle glaze, but I don't seem to have added enough glaze to get any crackling effect.  But still nice.  I think the plate with the red flower is finished with the Piepenberg Red-Bronze (which always ends up crackly blue for me).  The one with the yellow flower was finished with one of the new glazes mixed at Shadbolt.  Unfortunately, that particular firing went a bit quickly, and that Turquoise glaze didn't fully mature, so a few of us ended up with bubbles and other funky effects.  Tony has offered to re-fire these at the next workshop in October, but I'll see.  I think I can grind down the rough edges formed by the bubbles, and it should be good to go.  I don't mind the other funkiness.

The bowl is also glazed in the same red, but it either had too thin of a coat, or the oxygen reduction was not strong enough, since it turned out more of a pink than a red.  But it is still quite nice.  The center should be more yellow, like the other flower, but it is only somewhat yellow.  Still nice.  I think this one was finished in Apple Crackle, with a topping of Clear Crackle glaze.  Nice effects on the back.  I should have take a photo of the reverse sides.  Oh well.  Too tired.

The fourth piece is a candle holder for my sister Rose, for her birthday, so we'll need to wait until June to post photos, so I won't ruin the surprise.  See this post for the hole-poked candle holder as greenware.  Let's just say that the results were pretty satisfying, and keep it at that for now.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Floral Lantern and a Brilliant Pottery Day

Today was brilliant, in terms of a pottery day.  The weather was even cooler and a bit rainy, so I was happy to be indoors, and the studio was a very comfortable temperature.  I had come in on the weekend to finish up other pieces, so all I had left were the two large lantern type pieces.

I had pretty much finished up the windy house on the weekend, but I made a few finishing touches to it.  My teacher asked about whether I would put a candle in it, or was I thinking lights...  I wasn't thinking of lighting it at all, but I realized that if I ever wanted to burn a candle or tealight, I could insert the candle from the top, but it would be better if I had some "main floor" windows to insert the lighter through.  So I added a couple more windows, and a few more birds.  I toyed with the idea of adding a cat somewhere, but didn't.  I am happy with how it turned out.

So then I spent most of the day on the big lantern, as I had planned.  I made lots of clematis flowers and let them stiffen up while I planned how I'd cut out the trellis.  I was really pleased with how my handmade mold performed.  Here are the 4 sides of the lantern, once the trellis was carved, and flowers were attached :

As you can see, I tried to make each side different, with different numbers and positions of flowers, and made some just opening.

That was quite nice, but when I added the leaves, it changed the look dramatically, and lots of people commented to that effect.  It gave it "movement" and "energy" and really filled in the trellis, making it look alive.  Here it is again, from all four sides :
Pottery lantern with clematis design in progress by Lily L.

Pottery lantern with clematis design in progress by Lily L.

Pottery lantern with clematis design in progress by Lily L.

Pottery lantern with clematis design in progress by Lily L.

And here it is from the corners :
Pottery lantern with clematis design in progress by Lily L.

Pottery lantern with clematis design in progress by Lily L.
Not only did I add a hole previously, so an electrical cord could be pushed through the bottom, but my teacher encouraged me to add a hole in case I added a light kit, and made it into a sort of lamp.  Of course, I could always put a candle or tealight inside also.

Funny, but I realized at that moment that this lantern / lamp may not actually make it into the garden, I think I will enjoy it enough that I will want to display it inside the house.  My classmates were joking that I should put it on the kitchen table for display.  I'm thinking more like the living room table.  We'll see.

I finished this project with some time to spare, and then played a bit, but didn't really start anything new, since I won't be able to make it to class next week, and would worry about anything drying too much over 2 weeks.  (Although at the last moment I tried something, but it is more of an experiment than a piece).

Since I had lots of firm pieces which I had cut out for the trellis, I decided to play a bit with carving some designs, to make stamps / sprig molds.  I was a bit tired by the end of the day, so I only made a queen bee stamp, and a nautilus / snail shell stamp.  I was proud of myself for tossing the remainder of the pieces into the trimmings bin for recycling.  They were much too hard for me to fight with, and I decided I don't need to fully recycle the recycled clay, which this is.  I am much more diligent / anal about keeping and reusing my scraps from the other fresh clays.
I also played with a rough looking planter / pot, experimenting with different textures.  I am inspired by a few folks on Instagram who make beautiful rough pots, and I would like to make some also.  But this one wasn't meant to be.  I will need to experiment a bit more before I am happy with it.  It looked to me too much like a children's attempt at a pot, rather than an intentional wabi sabi look.  So again, I was proud of myself for crunching this one, although the clay was fresh, so I definitely kept it and will reuse it.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Bonus Pottery Day

It's always a great day when you can enjoy pottery, and we're counting on it.  Today was one of those days.  I decided I needed to go into the studio on a Sunday, to finish up a few of my items, since I have too much on the go, and I want to focus on my big lantern on Wednesday.  I had 6 items I threw on Wednesday which needed trimming and decorating.

I wanted to add some texture, in case I use any of these in the soda firing.  So I slip trailed one of them with swirly lines, and for another, I used my dragon scale tool to create a scale pattern on the shoulder (I realized very quickly that I didn't want to do this for the whole pot) :

I also wanted to try out my poking tool, which I made in the last course, and hadn't tried out yet.  For this one, I also decided not to poke the whole pot.  I think this band around it looks good.
When I look at that photo, I realize that I trimmed that jug like pot on the back right, but didn't end up decorating it.  I was tempted to add a lizard or frog or something.  But I guess I ran out of time today anyhow, it was only a 4 hour drop-in workshop session.

I didn't take another photo of the plate decorated with black and turquoise slip, but I trimmed it also.

I was happy to try out my new 1/2" custom stamp from www.4clay.com  I'm very pleased with the result, and it will be useful for smaller items, where my 1" stamp is hard to fit or get a good imprint.  Look at this little beauty :

This is not a very good photo of it, but here is my original stamp.  I will still use it for larger items (which is most of what I am making lately) :

Finally, I made some progress on my windswept house, cutting a few more windows and adding a few more birds.  I may do a bit more Wednesday, if I have time, otherwise I think I'm close enough I could call it done.

Who says you can't find love in an abandoned home?  I'm happy with this pair of affectionate birds.  Now that I look at my photos, I realize that I have birds in the upstairs windows, and none in the downstairs ones, so I need to add at least one more.  Or maybe a cat.  :-)  My friend Carol Anne (who suggested the birds in the first place) suggested one on the roof also.