Sunday, November 19, 2017

Wrapping it up for this Term

The end of the term always comes too soon for me, and the Christmas and New Years break is always too long.  I dread being locked out of the studio for the whole of December and first half of January.  It is a truly bleak time of year.

Tomorrow is the bisque deadline, and I have been away from class for two weeks now, since I had the raku firing last weekend, and had my personal life interfering with my pottery the last two Wednesdays.  So my extruded clay was pretty stiff, and the slabs would have been too dry if I hadn't already snuck into the studio yesterday and added wet paper towels and re-wrapped them in plastic.  Fredi had encouraged us to make a set of stacking containers, and today I decided to give it a try.  I think the result is pretty good (better than I expected, actually).  I made two containers, the top one with a very nice fitting lid :
I really like how the stamping worked out, and I have a different stamp on each side, to make it easier to assemble the stack.  Pretty clever, right?  I wasn't sure what type of handle to add, the stamp on the front is a tree design, so I played with making a small tree to add on top, but that didn't work too well.  It was my friend Janet who suggested I just make a branch, since it fits the nature theme of trees and flowers.  I really like how the branch worked out.

I have a feeling this would go very nicely in a wood or soda firing.  But I don't have any scheduled any time soon.  So I'll need to decide whether to save this stack for a future firing.  But I won't be able to rush it through this term anyhow (the bisque deadline is tomorrow, and the glaze deadline the following weekend).

Anyhow, I also trimmed up two vases I had started previously.  It seemed to take forever (over an hour, anyhow), to trim up those two vases.  But I'm relatively happy with the results.

I wasn't really supposed to start anything new, and didn't have much time anyhow, but I ended up throwing two small items, which could become mugs or just vases.  I tried an idea I saw on Instagram the other day, to press in some of my brown trimmings into the white clay.  But I think I'd need to apply a bit of slip next time, so that they stick better.  And I guess I forgot to take photos.

I also threw a very beautiful half-sphere bowl, which I intend to trim smooth on the outside, so it will double as either a slump mould or hump mould.  I have lots of ideas already for how I want to use it.

I did remember to take photos of a couple other small items I was also working on, but I can't post them yet, as one of the items is also destined to be a Christmas gift.  So I think that's it for now.

I have two more sessions, Wednesday and Sunday, and more items to glaze than I'll probably get done in that time.  But I'll do my best to at least get all the mugs going, and the leaf plates.  Since those may be items which would be of interest to Hemlock Coffee (Agassiz) patrons.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

More Finished Items : Plates and Totem Pieces

I really enjoyed making some stamped dinner plates (salad plates, once they shrunk!) this session, and was really curious to see how the glazes would work with the dark chocolate H440 clay. 

Beautiful handmade ceramic plate - pottery by Lily L.
11) This plate started as approx 1800g of H440 clay, and stamped with one of my hand made stamps.  It is a pretty deep plate, something between a plate and a bowl.  Perfect for pasta.  I added Black stain to the impressions, and then glazed in Bamboo.  I like how the Bamboo breaks over the brown clay, and the freckly iron-rich texture shows nicely.  I think this is my favourite glaze so far on this clay.  But I look forward to experimenting more.

Beautiful handmade ceramic plate - pottery by Lily L.
12) This is also the H440 clay, glazed in Deep Blue and Amber Celadon (overlapping).  A bit darker than I usually like, but I love how the Amber Celadon breaks over the carvings on the edge.

Beautiful handmade ceramic plate - pottery by Lily L.
13) Least favorite glaze on the H440 : Ash Yellow.  I think I intentionally stirred it lightly, so the Ash Yellow would apply a bit thin.  So it turned out a bit mottled yellow and brown.  Not too bad, but not my choice of colors. The plate itself is pretty nice, with again the hand made stamps decorating the edge.

I am really pleased with the shape and weight of my plates, and really look forward to making some with pedestal bases, likely in the new year.

Beautiful handmade ceramic leaf for a garden totem - pottery by Lily L.
14) This fig leaf is an absolute beauty.  Too bad it's for my future garden totem, rather than a trinkets plate.  It is made from B-Mix clay, and my notes say that I applied Deep Blue glaze to the cracks first, and then dipped in Tam's Green.  And I have a sad face indicating that the Tam's Green went on a bit thick, and was all crackly.  But there is no sign of that now.  It is beautiful, with a rich veining.  There is a bit of the kiln shelf stuck to it (see bottom left), but I should be able to easily grind that off.

Beautiful handmade leaf imprinted totem piece - pottery by Lily L.
These next four pieces are extruded sections of B-Mix clay which I will use for another garden totem.  I really like how all of them turned out.

Beautiful handmade leaf imprinted totem piece - pottery by Lily L.
15) It's funny, but the Davidii involucrata leaf imprints were washed in Green overglaze, but since they were waxed (so unglazed), they went black rather than green.  I had that same thing happen a long time ago while I was playing with little leaf pendants / beads.  But there isn't much I could do about it, as I really wanted to keep these unglazed.  Another time perhaps the whole piece could have a green slip applied before adding the leaf imprints, to get actual green.  Anyhow, the remainder was dipped in Amber Celadon.  Lovely result.  I think this would work great for some mugs next Spring, when all the leaves are fresh and available again.  It's pretty slim pickin' at the moment.

Beautiful handmade leaf imprinted totem piece - pottery by Lily L.
16) This piece also turned out nicely.  It is the imprint from Japanese Anemone leaves.  It was glazed in Tam's Green, but it seems to be thinly applied.  I like how there are fall yellows and browns on that bottom corner.

Beautiful handmade leaf imprinted totem piece - pottery by Lily L.
17) This piece features the mosquito geranium from my friend Beth, and a texture from one of my hand made stamps.  Funny but when I first saw it, I thought "newspaper", and my son said the exact same thing when he saw it.  It is Black stain in the textures, and then Celadon.  I will use this combination again!

Beautiful handmade leaf imprinted totem piece - pottery by Lily L.
18) This one looks very similar to (15) above, but here I used Black stain in the viburnum leaf imprints, and then Amber Celadon where I hadn't waxed.

Most of my other pieces are now awaiting glazing.  So I hope to move them along on Wednesday, as the studio is closed this weekend for Remembrance Day.  Then I have probably very few I can finish up or start, and get done by the end of the month, when the studio closes for the Christmas / Winter break, and doesn't reopen until January.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Raku Results

I think my photos from the actual raku session on the weekend may be better than the ones I took today.  Even though the sky was relatively bright, I didn't seem to be able to capture the vibrancy and iridescence in the colors well today, even after making some color adjustments while editing.  But here they are, anyhow :

Beautiful raku puzzle vase - pottery by Lily L
1) My notes says that this piece was thrown from reclaimed clay (a combination of Columbia Buff with Grog, WSO, and B-Mix).  The raku glazes include : #5 Red Bronze Lustre, #6 Patina, 881 Oxblood, #1 Ferguson Turquoise, #2 Copper Red, and then I did a few pieces in Yellow and Purple underglaze, with White Crackle glaze over.  I really like how the yellow and purple pieces turned out.  There are also some shiny copper pieces which I was pretty happy with.

Beautiful raku puzzle vase - pottery by Lily L
2) Same reclaimed clay and similar approach, except I didn't cut out any puzzle pieces on this one, and I like the robust shape of this one a bit more.  it was finished in the same raku glazes, except I also did a couple of pieces in White Crackle glaze.

Beautiful raku leaf decoration - pottery by Lily L
3) This one is not a vase, it is a closed form, with Davidii involucrate (dove tree) leaf imprints, and cutouts.  If it was more open, it could serve as a candle holder, but this one is just a decoration / centerpiece.  The colors are much more beautiful than in the photo.  It was thrown from Columbia Buff with Grog clay, and finished in the #2 Copper Red glaze.  It amuses me that the glaze is called Copper Red but the result is an iridescent amber / green color.

4) This shiny Butterfly bush (Buddleia) leaf could serve as a small serving plate (e.g. for ginger for sushi), or just decorate the house.  It features a single ladybug (Oxblood, and White Crackle for the eyes), and is glazed otherwise in #2 Copper Red.

Beautiful raku leaf pendants - pottery by Lily L
5) These 3 pendants were from a set of 6 I made a while back, from WSO sculptural clay and Davidii leaves.  The first 3 I glazed in the soda firing.  These were done in the raku firing.  If you take a look at the soda-fired leaves, they look very different.  Very different, but I think I like the vibrancy and green / black colors from the raku firing.

The remaining pieces, I have already wrapped, as they are a Christmas gift, but I already posted photos in the last post.

Monday, November 6, 2017

November Raku Session

I had all my pieces ready for the October raku session, but since there were not enough others who were ready, it was cancelled, and I had to wait a long month for the raku firing yesterday.  Surprisingly, the weather was really decent.  Cold, very cold, but clear and sunny.

I was pleased with how my pieces turned out.  Here are a few photos from yesterday's firing.

Here's a whole table of our treasures, from the 7 or 8 of us in the class.  Even though we had "Caution. Do Not Enter" tape blocking off the area, some people managed to slip in, to look at them.  One couple was pointing at my puzzle pots, and asking if they were for sale.  I answered "Not yet".

I made the shiny leaf decoration, the two big puzzle jars, 3 leaf pendants, one hosta leaf with ladybug, and 4 chess pieces.

Here's a look from the other side.  Nice colors on those puzzle vases, and beautiful shine on that leaf decoration.

The 4 chess pieces are a gift for my husband, who is a chess master.  I was toying with making an entire set, but decided to start with the 4 pieces, and see if he likes them.  (Even if he does, I'm not sure I want to invest the time required to make an entire set.)  It would have been so perfect if I could have fired them in October, as it was days before his birthday.  So now it will be a small Christmas present.  I think I'm okay, he never looks at my blog, and I'll wait until after Christmas to post them to Instagram.

I guess that's the best photos of my pieces so far.  I cleaned and waxed them tonight, but need to wait for some natural light to get some good photos.  Here is a photo of a nice one made by my friend Roma.  It is Clear crackle glaze over white clay (probably WSO) and turquoise slip.  Sweet.

I also brought home some new pieces from the Cone 10 gas firing, but need to find time and good lighting to take some photos.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Finished Leaf Plates

Continuing from the mugs which I picked up recently...  I made quite a number of leaf plates this year, as last year the leaves disappeared before I felt I had experimented enough with them.  Here are the first few which came through the glaze firing.  The photos are a bit dark, as I took them on a cloudy day, but the colors turned out more beautiful than the photos indicate :

6) This little plate is formed from an oakleaf hydrangea leaf, and features a ladybug, a gentle curved surface, and a small foot.  I glazed Deep Blue into the veins, and then dipped in Tam's Green which was not mixed well, so instead of a green / blue, it is a mottled brown / yellow / green / blue.  Quite nice Autumn colors.

7) This little plate is formed from a fig leaf, and features a single ladybug, and a small circular foot.  It has the same glaze treatment :Deep Blue into the veins, and then dipped in Tam's Green which was not mixed well.  I really like how this one turned out.

8) This little dish was formed from a hosta leaf, and features a ladybug and circular foot.  It was dipped in Ash Yellow and then Tam's Green.  Another time I may stir the Tam's Green a bit more, to get more green.  But I also like this fading browning Fall look.  I think it would make a great little plate for serving out some appies, or sushi.

9) It already snowed Nov 3, which is early for Vancouver.  So it may be a longer winter than usual.  But I look forward to building more garden totems next year, in the Spring.  This little Buddleia (butterfly bush)  leaf with two ladybugs will be part of one of those totems.  It was dipped in Matt Green and then Tam's Green.  Again, nice Autumn golds and browns.

10) Again, a butterfly bush leaf, and again, destined for a garden totem.  This one dipped in Tam's Green only, so a more typical Summer color of Buddleia.

I have a few more items in the cone 10 glaze firing at the moment, so hope to have more photos soon. Including a couple more items from the speckly H440 brown clay.  Stay tuned.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Finished Mugs and Vases

I was very pleased to pick up some finished pieces on the weekend.  As it is late, I will post some of them tonight, and the remainder another time.


1) This is probably my favourite of this initial batch.  It is a mug thrown from approx. 900 g of B-Mix clay, stamped with my handmade clay stamps, and imprinted with real grape leaves.  The stamps and veins of the leaves are highlighted with black stain, and then it is glazed in Ash Yellow, and the glaze wiped off the grape leaves.  Another time I'll use wax resist on the leaves, but this wiping off worked fairly well also.


2) This mug was also thrown from approx. 800 g of B-Mix clay.  Since we don't have any glazes which actually run, I glazed it outside with Ash Yellow, then inside with Deep Blue, and simulated Deep Blue drips on the sides.  I'm pretty happy with the results.


3) Also thrown from approx. 700 g of B-Mix clay, and glazed in Ash Yellow, but prior to that I highlighted the handmade stamp imprints with black stain (top) and Deep Blue (bottom & buttons on the handle).  Nice result.


4) This little guy was thrown from 700g of B-Mix clay, and it is a bit shorter and wider than the others, so I finished it more like a deep bowl or vase, with no handle.  I glazed it with Deep Blue inside and on the top rows of stamps, and with Tenmoku on the bottom row of stamps, and then dipped all in Clear glaze.  The photo on the bottom left doesn't show it well, but the inside is very complex and beautiful.  This photo shows it more clearly :


5) This is the first finished piece in the chocolate brown H440 clay which I have been working with recently.  It is an iron rich clay, and the iron comes through as reddish spots in the unglazed parts (see top right), and as the rich freckling in the glazed parts.  This one is glazed in Bamboo, and the stamped parts were highlighted with black stain (overglaze) before glazing.  I am impressed by how much the black stain shows through the Bamboo.


I look forward to experimenting more with glazing this brown clay.  I want to leave some of the pieces as partially glazed and partially unglazed.  I think the contrast will be quite satisfying.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Slabs and Mugs

On Wednesday, our class will use our new hump moulds to create beautiful platters.  So in anticipation of 7 people lined up at the slab roller, I decided to roll my slabs today, and then in class I can jump straight to creating the extruded rims and feet.  But before I did that, I soaked up Fredi's demo of an oval container with pillow lid.  I found the pillow lid process fascinating, and will need to try that some time.  Or perhaps just use her idea of adding a clay bead, and make some clay shakers.  I've been thinking of that, so maybe I'll try some day soon.

Before I left to roll slabs, I threw 4 mugs, but they really ended up huge.  So they will be very big mugs, maybe more like beer steins.  Then I rolled my slabs.  The first one I textured with my handmade clay stamps, including some which were hot out of the bisque firing.

Mesmerizing, isn't it?

The second slab may be a surprise for someone for Christmas, so I can't say, except that it is textured, and then I applied black slip to it, and will scrape it, to reveal the pattern.  It wasn't dry enough at the end of the day, so I will continue this pattern Wednesday, before draping over the hump mould.

In between working the slabs, I stamped my mugs.  Once the slabs were done and textured, it was time to finish off the mugs with handles.  Here they are at the end of the day :

One by one...
This was such a huge mug, that it didn't seem a normal handle would suit it, so it is a funky double handle.  I'm not sure if a finger would fit in that lower loop, but it looks inviting.

Again, a very big mug.  Fredi made a comment in passing that it looked like a soup mug, and perhaps could have two handles.  So I decided that would be fun.  Although when I googled "soup mug" I don't think any of them came up with double handles.  But I like the balance it provides.  It has a bit of "attitude", almost looks like hands on the hips.

This one I stamped before it was dry enough, so the stamp marks turned out a bit mucky.  And then I dropped slip onto them, but was too lazy to find (I might have taken it out of my bag) my narrow slip trailer, so I ended up squeezing out larger slip dots than I would have preferred.  But it could still turn out okay.

This one's a beauty, and probably a very good size for a coffee mug.  I love almost everything about it.  I hope I will do it justice when I glaze it.

I am waiting on my first few pieces, which should be glazed tomorrow, and I'll hopefully see them Wednesday, but if not, then Sunday for sure.  I'm really curious to see how the brown clay fires, and also some of the glaze combinations I tried.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Styrofoam Hump Moulds, More Plates, Some Glazing

Today was a productive day.  We had class #1 of our 2-class Styrofoam Hump & Slump Moulds course.  I didn't see the advantage of making the slump moulds at this point, so I made only more hump moulds (as I have 4 wonderful hump moulds from the course I took previously).

Linda suggested we try for 1 or 2, but I ended up making 3 hump moulds.  Two are a 2" deep oval, such as the one Linda used to make this deep casserole dish (with the beautiful glaze combination of Copper Red over Tenmoku):

The two ovals are sized so that the casserole dishes should easily stack together.  I didn't remember to take a photo.

The other one is a 1.5" deep soft round rectangle, which will make a wonderful sort of serving tray / platter.  I am pretty happy with this one, too.  Again, I didn't remember to take a photo.

That was my first 3 hours.  The next 4 hours or so, I did some trimming and glazing.  I am super happy with how these trimmed plates turned out :
Beautiful carved and stamped ceramic plates - WIP by Lily L.
The top one, I had stamped the rim on Sunday, but when I trimmed it, I also trimmed a spiral into the center.  I like how that looks.  I hope I can find a glaze which will do it justice.

The bottom one, I had made it Sunday with the spiral inside, and was planning to stamp the rim also, but I let it dry a bit too much, so instead, I used my trimming tool to carve the rim.  I really like how it turned out.  So much movement in the piece.  Again, I hope the glazes will do it justice.

I intentionally glazed one of my dark brown clay pieces, and hopefully it will be fired soon, so I will see it before I need to decide on these plates.  If the results are not spectacular, I should really do some test tiles, or create a piece which I can sacrifice to a number of glaze experiments.  Here is the brown vase, with a bit of black stain in the stamped pattern.  I want to see if it will show through my selected glaze.

I then glazed a few of my stamped mugs, which have been waiting patiently for me since I finished them in July!  I look forward to having a few finished ones for Hemlock Coffee Co.  (Hmmm, I thought I posted about them previously, but anyhow, they have some of my pieces for sale, and I have a feeling the mugs will be something their customers may enjoy).

Here are a few of the mugs, glazed, and awaiting firing :

The weather was really dismal today, raining heavily, so it was really good to be in the studio with good people and busy with so many items.  I can't imagine a better way to spend a rainy day.

Monday, October 16, 2017

More Lids

Every class with Fredi is so packed with new ideas and approaches.  I am really pleased with how much I am learning and exploring.

I tried out another method for making the smooth-profile lids which I am currently fascinated by.  Last week we learned to start from a closed form.  Today it was thrown in two pieces, and then fit together.  Mine actually fit fairly well :
After a bit of trimming, I had this :
I then did a bit of decorating with white slip, but forgot to take photos - and even forgot my pot outside (I was letting it dry in the breeze), and was lucky that when I phoned my instructor, she hadn't left yet, so was able to pull in my pot for me.

I am enjoying the challenge of making plates, so threw 2 more.  This one dried enough to decorate :

Since there are no finished pieces - or test tiles - with the H440 clay, I hope to glaze and fire a couple at a time, so I can learn what works and what doesn't.  I even considered making some test tiles, so I can try out more glaze combinations.  Maybe Wednesday.

While the leaves are still on the trees (not for much longer!) I have also made a few more leaf dishes and totem pieces :

I am hopeful that my 2 day course on making hump and slump moulds will go ahead this week and next week.  When I checked on Sunday, only 5 of the 10 spots were filled.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Finishing Up those Lids and Plates

I am really pleased with what I've been learning in my Lids class.  This Wednesday, I finished off the pieces I started on the weekend.  Due to Thanksgiving holiday and plans to be away, it would otherwise have been 2 weeks before I get to the pieces, and they may have been too dry. 

The new lid method I learned was a success, and I was able to cut and coax those pieces together, and then trim them so they fit seamlessly.  It was my friend Roma's idea to add a small stamp, which also helps in case there is a position of the lid which fits best (which seemed to be the case).
I'm really excited about this method, and can't wait to make some more closed forms to try it out again.

I trimmed the marbled vase.  I like how the cross comes through clearly on the bottom :

For the plates I threw, I stamped the third one :
I finished all three plates with a simple foot.  Although I hope to throw some more which I will finish with a pedestal foot.

This little pot, I threw from the clay which I was using as a chuck for trimming my brown plates :

And this pot was too plain, so I flattened out the front surface, and Roma lent me one of her stencils, which worked out perfectly, I think :
I think that's about it.  When I get back to the studio, I will be throwing more but also hoping glazing a few pieces, so I will have a few finished items to look forward to soon.  Stay tuned.