Category Archives: Pottery

Garden Bells

I’ve wanted to try making garden bells for quite some time and finally got a chance to do some experimenting.  I rolled out some stoneware clay, textured it and formed various sized bells.  Then, using scraps from the bells, I made little birds and owls and some beads to use as components.  This was fun!

Because of the thickness of some of the components, I allowed 2 weeks drying time before the bisque firing.  Then it was time to try out some of the brushable Coyote glazes I acquired when I purchased the studio inventory from a potter going out of business.  I normally dip my pieces in glazes, so brushing on was a new experience.

All the jars of glaze on the top shelf were practically free.  Garden bells seemed a good project for trying them out.

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Got all the bells put together and I’m thrilled with the results.  They each have a different sound and personality.  I’ll definitely be making more of these.

You can find these and more in my Etsy shop here.

Garden Bell Collage

 

 

Baffled by Copper Matte

The beautiful colors once obtained with our copper matte raku glaze eluded us in the last few firings we did before winter weather set in.  Then, in the first firing of the spring, we were blessed with these:

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We fired, glazed and reduced the same way we always have.  Same glaze we used last fall, not a new batch.  Who knows?  Maybe the wind was just blowing the right way this time.  Regardless, this was a nice start to the 2014 raku firing season.

 

Horsehair Pottery

We finally got a chance to try some horsehair pottery this weekend.  What fun!

Our friend and neighbor, Rhonda, provided us with horsehair and goose feathers.  Yes, feathers also are great for this process.  The unglazed pots were heated to around 1200 degrees, then removed from the kiln and placed on a turntable.  Here, feathers and strands of horsehair were placed on the pots where they quickly burned away, leaving sooty black, beautiful patterns.

See the neat feather pattern left on this pot?

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The horsehair shrivels and leaves all sorts of squiggles and lines.

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Now I must make more pots so we can try this again!

Fun in the Studio with Friends

We had so much fun in the studio yesterday when some MS friends, Steve & Amanda Massey, came for a visit.  In celebration of Amanda’s recent birthday, they came to AL for a little get-away and stopped in for a little wheel time.

Amanda Massey

 Amanda had taken a ceramics class several years ago and soon got the hang of centering the clay and pulling up the walls.  She produced several bowls and a couple small plates, leaving them to dry so I can trim and glaze them.  I hope they all turn out well!

Steve Massey

 For his first time at the wheel, Steve worked hard and finally got the feel of centering.  Maybe next time they visit, he’ll be ready to try opening the ball and pulling up some walls.  We certainly look forward to seeing them again.  Lots of good fellowship and laughs.

 

First Pottery of 2014

Finally!  Back to making pottery after a winter break.  What a perfect weekend to be in the studio.  Temps were in the 50’s and 60’s and the sun was shining like we haven’t seen in awhile.  The first day I turned on the electric heater to knock off the chill, but the second day Danny had the garage doors raised, so I left the studio door open and let the warmth of the sun come in.  I love it when I can work with the doors open to the outside.

First order of business – yarn bowls.  Danny made up 10 balls of clay.  Soon after that, mud was flying and yarn bowls were taking shape.

This was the first centered ball of the year.

First Pottery of 2014

 I expected to need a little time to get back in the throwing groove, but I was surprised to find it all came back to me quickly and after awhile 10 yarn bowls, 3 birdhouses, 2 mugs and 2 small bowls were filling the drying racks.  Very satisfying to head upstairs at the end of the day with the racks full once again.

First Batch of 2014

After drying overnight, the leather hard pieces were ready to trim.  I enjoy trimming as much as I do throwing.  That last little bit of refining brings out the form of the piece.  Handles and thumb rests were put on the mugs.  I made these two hoping to give Danny a nice new mug for his coffee.  I’ll let him decide on the glaze and which shape and size he likes best.  One has a fairly large belly and the other is taller and straighter.  I hope they turn out well.

The first trimmed piece of 2014 is ready to start drying.

First Finished Piece of 2014

The birdhouses still need holes, roofs and perches.  I’ll do those tomorrow.  Then I’ll be ready to start the next round of throwing!

Dry Brushing Raku Jewlery

When firing Raku, we have many pieces that just don’t come out as planned, especially with the jewelry pieces.  Because jewelry pieces are small and we fire so many pieces per firing, when there is a bad firing, that means many bad pieces.  I think even the bad pieces still have something interesting about them, so I’ve been trying to think of a way to make these pieces more appealing and beautiful.

Raku misfire

Many years ago my mom showed me how to dry brush ceramic Old World Santas using acrylic craft paints.  I loved this technique and decided to try a version of it on the misfired Raku pieces.  I had nothing to lose and already had acrylic paint, so I pulled out my paints and brushes and set to work.

Because the pieces were already very dark brown and black, I didn’t need the usual coat of dark undercoating used in traditional dry brush work.  These pieces went from being totally black/brown to coming to life with color with just a few swipes of the brush.

Raku redone

Pretty neat and lots of fun.  I think I’ll do more!

 

Pottery Jewelry Components

Danny & I have been experimenting with making some pottery jewelry components.  It’s been fun trying out new shapes and seeing how the different glaze treatments look on them.

We first tried some copper matte raku.  The first firing came out pretty good, but the second round was disappointing, mostly black & brown.  Copper matte is so finicky.  Not sure it will be commercially viable for jewelry.  The low success rate combined with the fact that each good piece needs a coat or two of sealer may mean these pieces would require too high a price point.  We’ll give it another go later down the road.

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The red bronze glaze proved to be more green than red, but the bronze highlights were really pretty.  Hard to capture the mirror-like surfaces in a photo.

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The white crackle raku pieces also were pretty neat.  We were hoping for a smaller crackle pattern, but were happy with these.  This crackle looks great on larger pots, but for the jewelry I’ll be surfing the web for a recipe that produces a finer crackle pattern.

White Crackle

Next round of jewelry components will be glazed and fired in the electric kiln.  Stay tuned for more experiments.

Snakes Like Raku, Too!

Last weekend some friends came over for a day of raku firing.  What a nice day it was, too, with some good conversation and some good firing results.  One of the most interesting parts of the day was spent observing an uninvited guest meander around the perimeter of our firing area.

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I think he was what we commonly refer to as a “chicken snake”.  When stretched his full length, you really got a sense of how long he was, about 5.5 feet from what we could tell.  He finally got bored with us and slithered up a nearby tree.  Thankfully there were no limbs from that tree overhanging where we were working!

 

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I spend weekdays in an office because of “the job”, so it was really nice to spend the day outdoors, snake and all!  These are some of the results of our firings that day.  We’re getting closer to what we’re trying to achieve with the copper matte glaze.  Looking forward to more experimenting soon.

Raku

More Raku Experiments

Have been working like a mad woman to throw lots of pots for more Raku experimenting.  We have shows the next 2 weekends, but after that we hope to get in some serious Raku time.  Don’t want to run out of pots when we finally find the time for testing.

Haven’t taken time to set up the photo tent for a serious photo session with the Raku we’ve done already, but snapped a few of the smaller pieces with my iPhone.  The last firing we did was finishing up just at dusk dark and the kiln was emitting an orangey glow.

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While playing around with Red Bronze Glaze, we came up with these results.  Hoping we can replicate the results next time around, but with Raku, you just never know.

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This piece was glazed with a Turquoise Crackle containing Copper Carbonate.  I think we over-did the reduction, which caused the lean toward red, but I like the result anyway.

Turquoise Crackle

 

Have some Copper Matte pieces, too, but haven’t taken photos of them yet.  Stay tuned!