Pottery tradition goes way back in our family…. our late grandfather was a master potter. Somehow his genes passed along, as I keep finding myself more and more at the studio.
Sadly, I did not have the pleasure of learning from him directly, but grateful somehow I caught the pottery bug and will continue on the tradition. He used to make his own clay, as my dad shares the stories. We are spoiled nowadays; just buy few pounds of whatever type clay you want and you are ready.
Pottery is not just wheel throwing, there are some many techniques and hand building. For example, I like combining the skills – throwing part of a bowl and finishing it off with hand building part of it.
Lately, I have found myself making lot of owls. Owls of every shape, size, and personality. This was a spontaneous inspiration, as very often I don’t set out to make a specific piece. Everyone has a style of working – some of my studio peers set off with a very specific idea like ‘I will make a carafe and two tumblers’. I arrive at the studio without a thought… the clay takes shape as I start playing, throwing, or hand building.
Ahhh… the world of glazing; it can make or ruin a pice of pottery. Luckily I do have a glazing muse, it’s called Nikita! A studio friend who has a magic touch with glazes. Usually a quick chat with Nikita results in picking the right glazes. Thank you Nikita!
This owl is called Frankie – the blue eyes reminded us of Frank Sinatra. It is handbuilt from ochre clay, hand painted, and then glazed. Isn’t it a hoot!! Visit LaBote on Etsy to explore more unique art pieces.
What keeps our brains youthful must be curiosity and learning new things we care about. Today was a day like that — we took a class in glazing from Jennifer at MCS.
Three hours of fascinating information that left us wanting more. So much that she decided to schedule part two.
We started with basic chemistry, history of where all this came from, and what glaze is made of. People for centuries have been making pots and vessels. Jennifer and Allison showed examples of old and new to educate us. I am always so impressed by how amazing something made 5000 years ago is so much better than many made today. Especially some of the Chinese pottery and ceramic glazing is just exquisite. We also learned that salt glazing was invented in Germany. One day, I would like to go see it done where it was born.
Part of the lecture was spent critiquing glazed pieces we had made. Jennifer called out all the good and the BAD! You can see Isaac was a good sport about being made an example:
The tips and tricks we learned were great. For instance, how to spray a fine mist over areas you want a thinner coverage of glaze. Can’t wait to apply what we learned.
It is always a surprise to see what comes out of the kiln. Sometimes I can hardly wait. Before you glaze everything is just milky white and uniform as in the above picture. This time around I had quite a few pieces that I was waiting for.
Taking chances and letting it go was my philosophy when I glazed these pieces. So I was so scared an excited at the same time to see IF my bravado actually paid off. Certainly had pleasant surprises but learned lots of lessons.
Magic of glazing is the unexpected results of combining colors. You can always create more predictability by testing shards using glazes. Many artists do so they have an idea what the combination will result in. For now I prefer to be surprised, so I am taking risks.
Plate glaze combo: white, amber, copper
This was a risk that paid off – I had never tried this combination before. The copper sheen particularly looks nice. Cube glaze combo: shiny bone, iron oxide, floating blue
This was a lesson learned. One side turned out good but other sides not so much. I had patterns that I brushed with iron oxide first the glazed with then shiny bone and on top the blue.
Good side /Bad side:
Buttons: chameleon, wax
My sister G wanted me to make some jewelry pieces and I was playing around I made buttons. Had to learn how to glaze them so they would not fuse to the kiln shelves. After waxing the holes and bottom, used chameleon to paint them. So far the have put a smile on people’s faces.
What are some of your favorite glaze combinations?
In the spirit of this newfound courage and the surprising results, today I took more chances and glazed all sorts of other colors. Will let you know how they turn out!
Second batch of my pottery just came out of the kiln yesterday. Every time it is a surprise because you just never know what your pieces are going to look like.
This time I was focusing on patterns and glazes. Tried some patterns to see how they would come through (or not) the glazing. Also took some risks in glazing to learn more.
Applied the rope pattern and some carving techniques to these pieces. The blue piece, mainly due to the glaze, exceeded my expectation. The blue glaze broke on the rope pattern beautifully making the carmel brown ridges enhancing the rope effect. But the same pattern in shiny bone glaze did not work out so much. Turns out I wiped off too mug of the iron oxide I had applied underneath it (the dark spots you see).
The truly risky piece and the biggest surprise was this one, shape was inspired by artichokes. Used this glaze called Amy’s green, because the piece is so organic and I wanted to try it. For the inside I used white glaze. Those of you who have experimented with pottery and glazing will know how devastating it can be to ruin a pot you really like. I was told this glaze can look like ‘baby poop‘ if it is not applied right. So I followed a fellow potters advice about dipping the pot very quickly and hope for the rest! I nearly jumped up and down in happiness when I saw the final result.
The black cube I made did not exactly turn out… was not sure how black or what kind of reaction it would have once fired. Used wax and white glaze for the heart and holes. It is OK for an experiment but learned to be more intentional with this glaze for next time.
If you have any tips and tricks – patterns you like, please comment and share!