Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Great Start to the New Season

This Spring season, I will be doing pottery twice a week.  Wow.  Life is wonderful.  Except for today, I got called into work, so missed my first class with Jay.  But on Sunday, I had my first class with Fredi, and was really excited.  I made so much progress in improving my throwing, from Fredi's instruction.  I experimented with vessels which should not need to be trimmed at the bottom, and with pulling up as much clay as I can from the bottom corner (which is where I usually have so much weight).  The result was pots which were larger and lighter than I've ever thrown before.

These were my first two.  1500g and 900 g.  About 50% larger than I think I've thrown previously, with that same amount of clay.

I was being so disciplined the first 3 hours, reworking and blending some old clays I had in the garage for too long, and focusing on my centering and throwing, that on the third pot, I finally had to break down and "play".  I'm by nature a decorator, and I couldn't hold it back any longer.

I have been intrigued by the techniques of Cory Brown, which involve overlaying sheets with inlaid design over pots, and then using special handmade rollers to press in the inlay while throwing the form.  I was intrigued to try this, so created a sheet with a pattern of hearts, punched out of Plainsman H440 brown clay.

Too bad I was being too lazy, so didn't check the dimensions of the thin slab I was preparing.  So it didn't quite fit on the cylinder I had thrown :
Being lazy, I decided just to use a pastry roller (I don't have nice smaller rollers like Cory), to try to press this sheet (which is still quite thick) into the cylinder, ignoring that I had some gaps where the sheet didn't meet.  It worked to some degree.

Here is the final product :

I learned enough from this, that I think I could attempt a more interesting form and design one day, using a thinner inlaid sheet (Fredi suggested I could roll it out onto a plastic sheet, so I could use the plastic to lift it into place).  I could also try to "throw" the piece from the inside, to get the interesting twist on the design which Cory Brown achieves.  But for now, I was at least happy to get the two clay parts to adhere - or at least they seemed to.

After that experiment, I went back to working on improving my throwing.  I have always loved spherical forms, so I played a bit, and got this one, which has a hole in the bottom and top, so it will become a garden totem piece:

I played with a couple more spherical pieces, one with a very narrow neck at top (but not as tall as I was hoping to achieve - I forgot to take a photo of it), then the complete sphere below (left).  The one in the middle, I inset a couple of pieces of H440 brown clay before throwing, but the brown clay was too stiff, so it was hard to control, and I ended up with a wonky top.  So I made it even more wonky, to make it look intentional.  Finally, the one on the left is another cylindrical piece, thrown with a relatively light bottom and sides.
I don't think any of them are suitable for the soda firing (which is the intent of the course), but since I throw so many pieces (8 this time, which are almost done, since most won't need trimming), I will not have any problem throwing enough to fill my 2 cubic foot allotment.  Especially since I'll be doing pottery twice a week now (when work or other plans don't interfere!).

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