Underglazes, Dipping Glazes, Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit

Morning all,

Apologies for things going quiet on the blog – 2018 has thus far been a challenging year. Which gives me all the more reason to enjoy and celebrate clay when I get the chance.

A few weeks back SB’s studio opened up again on Tuesday nights and I popped down. I made two little dishes for mothers day for my mum and mum-in-law and a couple of bowls. My intention was to start playing with underglazes and try to understand dipping/spraying glazes more rather than just brush on.

The underglazes were ok to use, but to be vibrant they were low fired and so not suitable for food SB said. But as the dishes were more like little trinket dishes this was fine. The underglazes were fine, one colour must have been a little thick or not happy as it bubbled and burst away, but I had more issues with the clear glaze I had to brush ontop that got a bit claggy (is that a word?). I think SB has a clear crackle I can use next time that was more light and less err.. claggy.

The green glaze I sprayed on gave a lovely coverage but a blue cobalt I used came out much more strongly that I had anticipated – a bit garish. And the tags yard I used under the spray on glaze burnt away mostly, so was barely visible at all. Overall I really didn’t like either of the green bowls I made at all. Last night I worked to re-glaze them and see if they could be salvaged. I don’t like discarding things – I don’t like to be wasteful. So I’m hoping they look a little better with a second firing..

I also poured on a blue dipping glaze. I think I need to get much better with my pouring or perhaps some glazes are more forgiving than others – because the coverage was really uneven, especially on the sides of the dishes. Likewise I used a blue cobalt and tags yard to try and bring out some detail in the bowl, but again the blue as garish and the tags yard virtually burnt away. Hopefully next in two weeks or so I’ll be able to get them back in a better condition. Regardless I will post the results as its useful to share failures as well as successes!!

And so apart from battling with glazes, I decided to make a rabbit last night! Well, a hare. I had seen an article in Clay Craft where they used two small pinch pots to make a basic rabbit shape. I have wanted to make Little One a rabbit for the garden since I began working with pottery again – but I was intimidated by sculpture. Handbuilding is such a different skill to throwing, and I have never had much luck with coiling and pinch pots. But my mind was restless with other things and I just started, regardless. I think seeing the Clay Craft article gave me confidence. I joined two large pinch pots and used a third smaller pinch pot for the head. And from there I pushed, added, scrapped, moulded and prodded the clay into a hare standing on its back legs. I worked a little from an image of a real hare on my phone, but as you can imagine the phone kept shutting down, so it was largely from eye and memory. I wasn’t going either for ‘animated’ nor ‘real life’ but something in between I guess. I battled with memory vs a picture, as a hare has quite long front legs, which looked strange to me when I made them in clay, but the proportions were roughly correct from the photo of the hare.

The plan is to use oxides and underglazes to glaze him but keep it quite low key. I’ll definitely be doing a few test tiles before jumping in and glazing him – that much those awful bowls have taught me!!

I’d like to have a go making more animals – mostly for the garden and for my Little One to enjoy. It was a really different building experience to throwing or slab, and I’m glad I finally made a rabbit (hare), just in time for spring! As ever, I’ll do my best to keep you posted

PS xx

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Recent work (part 1)

Hello all,

I thought I’d share a few photos some recent work. I’ve become increasingly interested in the interface of the natural and urban environments and structures.

I’ve been texturing clay, ripping, cutting and recycling the offcuts from other people’s cuttings in the studio – initially to help use up the used clay for SB, but actually using off cuts has added extra textures, shapes and forms became an interesting process in of itself. I’ve been using rollers, stamps, keys, lids, buttons and basically anything I can get my hands on to texture the clay. I try not to plan them too much but just let the pieces fit themselves together and layer them as required in order to strengthen them where needs be. Usually I have quite a fixed idea of what I want and I draw and plan it. Instead this time I’m trying out respond to the clay and not over think things.

I haven’t made the pieces into functional ware, instead I’ve been making pieces I want to glaze organically and have the pieces in the garden to become part of the natural environment again.

At the moment I’ve made two large pieces, photos of one piece below. I will add photos of their progress as I go.

Any comments or suggestions would be much appreciated!!

PS xx

Sharing is caring 

Evening all!

I wanted to share with you the results of some of my bowl stamping experiments. I am still getting frustrated by not getting glazes the way I want them, either in terms of coverage, colour or effect. It’s something I hope to work on in coming weeks.

For example the large floral  bowl I made didn’t, in my opinion, come out well. I painted blue glaze onto the flowers and poured on a white dipping glaze, but once in the kiln the blue smothered the flowers and the white pooled at the bottom giving a completely different effect to the rim. The centre of the bowl looked almost clear rather than white.

Perhaps this was a result of my pouring or applying too much blue glaze to the flowers, I don’t know.

The bowl with the geometric stamped rim came out much more even with the green dipping glaze (although still patchy in areas) and even a drip from another item in the kiln seems to have brought it to life. I wasn’t mad on the green glaze tester but actually it is my favourite of the bowls for colour.

I have another bowl to show but this one was done quite differently – I’ll explain more when I take some photos!

As ever I try to view my work as learning opportunities and here are definitely things to be learnt from these bowls.

Beloved looked at me last week and the piles of ceramic dishes piling up and so I selected a number of pieces to go to friends and family. It’s nice to think they have gone to good homes and are being used rather than sat gathering dust. Friends and family are so supportive and of course have a very different view of a pot compared to the potter. Whereas I see primarily imperfections, they might have a more positive overall impression. It feels good to share and sometimes we all need to little positivity and encouragement.

Some things in the pipeline are Christmas related goodies, more throwing practice, working with coloured slip and my big project… a dolls house for Little One!

Thanks for all the likes and comments, it feels great to receive them and I am always appreciative of advice and tips! 

Keep potting 

PG xx

Garden Jug 

I have a lot to thank my parents for. They have supported me through the ups and downs, very highs and very lows. I wanted to make them something special and personal. Mum was over recently and really liked my Phnom Penh vase and so I thought I should make something for Mum and Dad! 

My parents have the most beautiful garden and so I thought this would be a good starting place for a piece. I took to my sketchbook and came up with a few ideas. 

I actually began making a vase but as I was working with the clay I wanted to narrow the neck to make the shape more interesting and then when I added an extra piece of clay to elongate the neck, I realised the shape lended itself to being a tall thin jug. I cut a long handle and left it to dry out a little while I cut out pieces for the garden and added textures to the clay using a stamp I made and a fork. Once the handle was a suitable dryness  (it held it’s shape well) I attached it, no problems.

I’m really happy with the outcome, I just need to think about getting the glaze spot on. I was inclined to think all white or a block colour but I know my mum would like something colourful. I just don’t want the colours to be garish or too clumsy. Parts of the Phnom Penh vase look great but other areas look messy. Perhaps SB will have some ideas. 

If you have any ideas for glazing, let me know! 

Phnom Penh Market Vase!

It’s great to get something finally finished! This was a vase I hand built, inspired by the markets of Phnom Penh. It was my first time using under glazes and I think the results are mixed… some very patchy, some uneven, some look ok, some look great! Some areas were painted with different types of glaze, which seem to be more effective and consistent than the under glazes. I think on close inspection the glaze reveals the inconsistencies, but the overall effect is better!

 

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Inspired by the techniques of this vase, I used the circular decorations on two thrown items, a bowl and a vase. I think the glaze for these will be much simpler, perhaps a glaze that changes colour with different textures.

I’ll put up the results when they’re ready!

PG x

First time recycling (slaking) clay!

I’ve been collecting all my little bits and pieces of clay off cuts in the hope of recycling them. Obviously as a home potter, the amount of clay I am recycling is significantly less than a studio potter. However, I work in small amounts and to a budget, so I am recycling the left over clay now that I have finished my bag.

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There is an article on Ceramic Arts Daily which essentially tells you to leave the clay until it’s bone dry, allow it to soak in water and then lay out on a porous surface roughly 1.5-2 inches thick to dry out. Once the clay is back to a workable viscosity, bag it up or begin wedging!

Simon Leach has a great video on YouTube in which he also adds vinegar. He doesn’t say why exactly but someone in the comments says the following:

A Furness Red6 years ago

@juliafranz72 Hi Julia, vinegar is being used as a ‘deflocculant’ – i.e. the acid attacks the particles and reduces their ability to stick to each other thus making the clay ‘fluid’ more quickly than by just using water. Mix pulverised dry clay with vinegar to make a paste for repairing broken ‘greenware’ e.g. a broken handle. Apply vinegar to surfaces to be joined so that paste does not dry out on contact with the piece. The repair remains delicate until bisque fired. Hope this helps.

My only issue is how much water to add…? It says to cover the clay – but depending on the size of your clay pieces, that can vary a lot. But, I guess I’ll just add enough to cover the clay pieces and then add a tablespoon of vinegar (small amount for a small amount of clay!).

I also made my own wedging batt! I don’t have a permanent studio space, nor the space for a wedging table. Simon Leach has a video about making plaster boards with chicken wire in a large frame and I had read about some people using canvas. We are tight on space and I work on a budget, so I invented my own!  I bought some cheap plaster of paris on Amazon for £7.50 (I actually had an amazon voucher so it was free!) and then bought a cheap canvas at The Works  for £6 I think. I mixed up the plaster of paris in a bucket in the garden and added the appropriate amount of water, laid the canvas on a flat surface and poured it into the back of the canvas and left it to dry.

Now I have a portable and storable wedging board! Once the clay has slaked down and is ready to be formed I’ll add more photos

PG xx

Some success! Some learning opportunities..

It’s been busy here let me tell you! I’ve been building a vase inspired by the markets in Phnom Penh, Cambodia all week and then last night I got to pick up a few items and glaze some more!

This is the vase and the sketchpad drawings – you can see how the reality of putting ideas into clay changes things, but I’m happy for this process to take place. I rolled out a slab and used a cordial bottle to get the initial shape and structure. Thereafter I began rolling smaller slabs, cutting out pieces, layering, etching, shaping.. It was so much fun! It’s drying at the moment and will hopefully be fired this week. Then the next step will be glazing. I’m realising that this is an entirely different skill to hand building, and one I certainly haven’t gotten the hang of!! But I am really happy with my vase so far. I’m hoping it’ll be bright and beautiful once finished.

I got back a couple of pieces from SB last night! These were the pieces initially fired at a high temp, which limited the glazes I could use to low temp glazes. I began with this black/metallic glaze on my chess pieces and then used this for the underside of my dishes and bowls. The inside of the bowls were glazed with a clear glaze to show the internal patterning and contrast with the harsh black.

I’m really happy with how the chess pieces turned out! But the glaze on all the pieces ran. The smaller dish broke entirely and the other dishes all melted onto the sand on the shelf below, so I have had to file them down and neaten them up. The glaze also bubbled in some areas, I don’t know why. Obviously all of these are a little extra-ordinary as they are fired the ‘wrong’ way around, but its all a learning process.

Last night I glazed the other chess pieces with clear glaze for a second firing and will be applying a lacquer to make them pearly white. The lacquer will require a third firing. I also glazed the three small bowls, pen holders and my box. I really need to write down what glazes I used.

I’m pretty much out of clay too – I have been collecting my scraps and will be attempting to slake the clay down and reclaim it! But that’s a story for another post..

This week is about getting together more ideas, sketching and glazing ideas!

I’ve been using Instagram a lot and keeping that updated more quickly than the blog so feel free to follow me on that – @pmstrat

PG x