Friday, February 13, 2009

Raku Time!!!

Ok kids, it's Tutorial time!
In this lesson we're going to be making a Horse Hair Raku pot.
First you start off by centering your clay.

Open up the middle,
and pull up the walls.
Start shaping the size of pot in which you want.
I believe more decorative pots look better with a lot of surface space, so don't be afraid to really push yourself to push out those walls! No slightly shaped cylinders here!
When the shape is just how you like it, do your finishing touches, cut-wire,
and pop off the wheel head.
When it's leather hard, trim up the bottom so the walls are the same thickness all the way through.
When it's completely bone dry, apply a generous layer of Terra-Sigillata, which is a very very finely ground type of clay mixed with water, and then buffing the pot with a soft piece of cloth so it's shiney.

After the pot is bisqued, IT'S TIME TO RAKU!!!
Blaine's Raku kiln he built himself, and it's a gas heated plate surrounded by bricks, with a fiberglass lined bonnet that goes over the top.
Let the pot heat up under the bonnet until it reads about 1300-1500 degrees F. Any cooler and the hair won't burn into the surface of the pot. Any hotter, and the hair will burn into oblivion before it even touches the pot.
Remove the glowing red pot with fire-place tongs onto a surface where you can access all sides.

From there, burn the hairs of your choice onto the pot. I used my friend Ashley's hair, since I hadn't given any horses a hair-cut recently.
Blaine and I also added feathers to this pot with the hair.
Be sure not to burn your fingers- since you do have to get really close to get the hair where you want it.
Work quickly, because the pot will start cooling off fast, and you want to get as much detail as you can before the hair won't burn anymore.
And the final product! The hairs make lightning-like zig-zags and fancy curly-Q's all over the pot, and the smoke that the hair puts off makes a great smoke effect. The feathers, when applied correctly, leave an exact imprint, like the one above.
When it's completely cooled, you can spray with a clear, high-gloss laquer spraypaint for a shiney finish.

Until Next Time,

New Stuff Continuted

Here's some more stuff I finally got pictures of.
First off, my most favorite: This is my platter-

This thing is a monster. Approximately 20+ inches across of pure, unadulterated platter.

and the colors are fantastic. The way they all ran together makes me proud.
Next up, are the tea pots. They are cute, but that's about where it ends. They were both experiments, and, even though I do love them, they will live at my mom's house forever.

Now I'll admit, I just had fun with this one, however, this particular teapot is my favorite. His name is Heff. He has floppy ears, a cute little trunk, a mouth, tusks, a tail, and little tufts of hair on his head-lid and on the tip of his tail. he makes me smile. I'll definitely be making more teapots in the future.
Until Next Time,

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Stuff

I haven't posted any of my newer creations lately, so here are some of my favorites.

This large mixing or serving bowl is She's a Bleeder Red with a layer of my Fabulous Yellow on top. This glaze mixture is definately my favorite. I did most of my work last year in these colors.
This is a smaller mixing or serving bowl with Stary Night on top of the red instead of yellow, it's a more subtle effect and it brings out certain shades of purple and green in the red that I really like. The only bad thing about She's a Bleeder Red, is that sometimes, if the oxygen levels in the kiln aren't perfect, it can turn things blue, gray, or green.
This is a set of dishes that I made on a Jigger (that's a tool that attaches to the wheel head and when you pull down the arm it squishes out the clay onto a plaster mold so everything is exactly the same). I think it's cheating, so I only made these dishes for me to use at home. Not to sell. The dishes turned out great and they're thin enough to where we could even glaze the bottoms. The one on the bottom right is one that, even though they were all run through the kiln at the same time, on the same shelf as one of the other ones, turned green and blue. It's the outcast plate, but I love it just the same.
This is a Whistle that I made while helping Blaine teach a pottery class last summer to a group of high school kids deciding on what they wanted to do in college. Just a plain whistle would be boring, so we made them into elephants. We also made Hairy Mammoth banks for the Museum's Mammoth Days Fair last summer, however mine sold before I got a picture of him. :(

These are a couple of Toothbrush/Toothpaste Holders. Kids love them, and it keeps the toothbrushes off the yucky cupboard and floors. The one on the left is Violent Blue with Stary Night and the red is, of course, She's a Bleeder with Fabulous Yellow.
This basic water pitcher is just a thin layer of She's a Bleeder. The glaze was thin enough that the natural color of the clay shines through from underneath the glaze.
These are the cups I made to go with my set of plates. I decided not to make them identical, since the plates aren't all the same either. Each cup has a raised Bumble Bee on it, and are glazed in She's a Bleeder and Fabulous Yellow.
This is one of my large turkey platters. It's approximately 16 inches across and glazed in different thicknesses of Fabulous Yellow. When this glaze is thinner, it goes a natural brown which I love.

I have a few more pieces at my parent's house I haven't gotten pictures of yet, so I'll take pictures while I'm down this weekend and post them soon.

Until then,


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Making Clay

So, because I'm an "Instant Gratification" type of girl, I buy my clay from a local store pre-mixed, pre-wedged, pre-bagged, and packed nicely in a convenient 25 pound block.

But, believe it or not kids, not all clay comes in a conveniently packed 25 pound block-in-a-bag (darn it...).

So last summer, a few of us pottery geeks decided we didn't want to spend 10 dollars to buy clay, hopped in the car, spent $60 dollars in gas and headed out to the desert to dig up our own clay. Economical, aren't we? Besides, who can turn down a road trip??

For those of you who aren't familiar, this is the San Rafael. Those lovely red caps are, you got it! Clay! in it's rawest form. Dirt!

Awesome, red, lovely dirt. rocks, sticks and all. All you do, is dig some up, and throw it in a bucket.

OK, so I didn't take pictures of this process, so you'll have to use your imagination here. To turn this dirt into clay, you just add water and sift it through a piece of screen to remove the rocks sticks, and everything that isn't slip. You don't want any chunks at all in this.

From there you pour your bucket of slip into a new-fangled, high-tech, filtration device. Or, more easily put, a leg of an old pair of jeans, with the bottom tied off.

The reason jeans work so well, is because the weave of the levi is so tight that the water can slip through, but the dirt particals cant.

It's a slow process, but in about 2-5 days, you'll some perfectly drained clay. from there, just squeeze the clay out of the jeans like a giant Otter-Pop, wedge up the clay, and store it in plastic.

You can even make it into convenient 25 pound blocks if you want!

I love this clay. It's got a lot of plasticity and it's soft but still able to hold it's shape. I haven't fired anything with it yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Until next time,


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Christmas Pottery Sale

Sorry for the late posting... and lack of postings... it's been a bit hectic with the move and all! So here goes! (I'm posting for you, Christy!!)

Every Spring and Winter a group of potters in my hometown have a pottery sale at the local college.

Nothing fancy, just a couple of days, a few potters, and a lot of pottery. Here are some pictures of the sale, and some items that were sold.

Here's everything set out on display, waiting to be sold.

Oooh! the first customers! it's so exciting!

These are some of Blaine's creations. From the far right: Transparent clay candle holders, Christmas tree ornaments, a large platter and some flower vases.

These are some of Blaine's pie plates. I love his work! he taught me everything I know. Visit his store HERE.

For some reason, I didn't take any pictures of my own stuff at the sale... oh well, live and learn I suppose :)

I hope to be posting some new stuff soon!
Until then,