Monday, June 30, 2008

The Process.....

I decided I would take my camera to the lab, and show you the process of making a bowl!

First, you start out with a ball of clay. Throw it down on your wheel, and squish it down on the sides so it has a good seal to the wheel head.

Then you center it. You do this by using your body weigh to push the clay up into a cone and smash it back down again. Lot's of water is used in this so your hands can slide easily over the clay. You can tell it's centered when your hand doesn't move back and forth on the clay. If you've ever seen a wood lathe work, it's sort of the same concept.

This is obviously a bigger piece of clay, but it's all centered the same. To start making a bowl, I slowly work the centered clay down into a flattened dome, approximately the size I want the base of the bowl.

From there, I open up a hole in the center of the dome and move the clay from the center out; leaving a 1/4'' to a 1/2'' thickness on bottom.

Then, using either a wet sponge, or my right knuckle I pull the walls of clay up into a cylinder, making the walls about a 1/2'' thick.

Then I start to shape the cylinder into a bowl. I continue to pull the walls up and out until the shape and thickness is how I like it. I like to leave the lip edge a little thicker, because there's more stress put on that edge throughout the life of the bowl. And...

Tada!! After a few last touches, the bowl is the right shape and size! From here I cover the bowl in a plastic bag for a day or two, and slowly let it dry half way out.

In the next post, I'll show how I trim an attractive and functional foot on the bottom of the bowl.

Until next time,

Monday, June 23, 2008

These are a Few of my Favorite Things...

As promised, I've gathered up some pictures of pottery that I've made in the past year or so. The earlier stuff, such as 20 pound bowls, 15 pound mugs that only hold 2 ounces of water, and other unusable things I didn't ever take pictures of because I either gave them away as gifts, threw them at walls, or attempted to blow them to smithereens at the gun range (fortunately for them, I'm a lousy aim).

This particular item was nicknamed "The Monstrosity", for obvious reasons. It was an experiment really, but ended up being a really neat and original planter. The Dean of Arts at the college bought it and put it in his office, which makes me feel really good about it.

This is by far my favorite piece. It's a vegetable steamer! You put your veggies in the pot and then rest the entire pot over a pan of water and put the lid on so the steam from the water goes up through that hole in the middle and steams your veggies perfectly. It sold almost immediately, which makes me sad that the other one I made that was tan and sage green, had a slight incident, and ended up breaking. It was a tragedy.

This next picture is a bad one, so ignore my fingers holding it up, and the dog toy in the back.
This plate was supposed to have others to match it, but I never got around to it. Maybe I'll make a complete set one day - until then, this is my only plate that hasn't sold.

I don't make non-functional things often, but this is one of my favorites. The glaze really puts this one over the top. I love the copper and the fact that it never comes out the same way twice.
This is called a Raku Fired Pot. I'll walk you through the whole process in another post.

This is another Raku Pot. It has a crackle glaze on it, which cracks when you take it out of the kiln hot and blow on it.

Raku Pots are considered non-functional because you can't eat out of them, and they are still able to absorb water. They're just used for decorative purposes. Most of mine hold dried flowers, or catch spare laundry room change until I'm able to sell them.

This is a strawberry pot, which also started out as an experiment. I'm pretty proud of it, mostly because the glaze that's on it is my own creation. It's even named "Karin's Fabulous Yellow". I'm still making slight tweeks to the recipe, but I love how it looks rusty in places, and isn't perfect.

This is a set of handled soup bowls I made. They're descending in size and all say "Soup" on the side. These two glazes together make one of my favorite combinations.

Bowls are my favorite to make. I call these "Wiggle Bowls". The wiggly edge adds just that extra pop of character that regular bowls don't have. This glaze is also one of my favorite combinations. It's tricky to get it to turn out right every time, and sometimes the glaze crawls away from parts of the bowl, but once I figured out how to get it just right, it's the most gorgeous color sage.
I put the wiggly edge on all sorts of bowls, casserole dishes, pie plates, and even platters.

I love experimenting with glazes. They never come out the same twice, which makes it more fun pulling them out of the kiln. It's like Christmas morning every time!

Until next time,

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bloggie's First Day

Well, it's official. My sister Jeri has convinced me to start a blog of my very own. I'm going to try and focus on my pottery, which is wheel thrown by me, but as you'll find out, I get side tracked easily.

When I was in the 7th grade I had my first experience in pottery. I made a 2 inch coil pot, a pinch pot that never got bisqued, and an awful little "jewelry box" that my teacher glazed blue. My parents kept these around their house for years, until I convinced them to throw them away (mom didn't throw them away, and they're still at the house).

As fate would have it, my last semester of college before receiving my Associates Degree I was informed that I needed 12 more credit hours of electives, so I enrolled in Dutch Oven Cooking, Photography, Horsemanship, and Ceramics, because they were each 3 credit hours, and presumably an easy A.

I fell in love with all four, but somehow pottery stuck. I've had my associates for over a year, and I'm still enrolled in the Ceramics class at the college. I'm getting better everyday, regardless of my lack of patience. Hopefully one day soon I'll be able to afford a wheel of my own, a bisque kiln, and a high fire gas kiln... a small wish list really, I swear.

I'll be posting pictures of pottery I've made, and keep you posted on works in progress. Hope you like my work!

Until next time,