Thursday, 31 May 2012

My latest inlaid pot

I'm enjoying this technique very much, but it does take an age to complete one pot. This piece was thrown and then the flat top section coiled.

approx 6 inches tall
The surface is quite coarse and pitted, due to the grog in the clay being dragged out by the scraping tool. In a way, I quite like this rough gives it a look similar to aged masonry. I will definitely use my transparent ash glaze on this for an electric firing, but it could also look very nice woodfired and unglazed.

I'm going to mix some smoother clays together this afternoon, probably a buff stoneware and Keuper red stoneware, which will make the incising easier. The problem is, I don't really like throwing with smooth clay..

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A ride to Wardlow and back

It was a beautiful day for biking today..sunny and a nice gentle breeze. I rode through the hills to Wardlow, which is a few miles outside Buxton. I thought I might be able to drop in on Geoff Fuller, the Potter, at the Three Stags Heads, but the pub was shut and there was noone home.

A photo of Geoff and Pat Fuller's pottery and pub can be seen at:
Anyway, here are a few of the pics I took on the way:

Near Buxton

Near Buxton

B6465 to Wardlow

Near Wardlow

I think the hawthorn blossom looks especially beautiful in the Peak District at this time of year.

Tao Te Ching : Harmony



"Embracing the Way, you become embraced;
Breathing gently, you become newborn;
Clearing your mind, you become clear;
Nurturing your children, you become impartial;
Opening your heart, you become accepted;
Accepting the world, you embrace the Way.

Bearing and nurturing,
Creating but not owning,
Giving without demanding,
This is harmony. "

Friday, 18 May 2012

Learning about inlaid decoration

I saw a photo of a beach pebble the other day with veins of white rock running through it and thought how beautiful it looked. It gave me the idea of making a piece with incised lines which could be filled with slip, a technique which has been used extensively in Korean pottery. Purely as an experiment at this stage, I used a fairly groggy mix of red earthenware and stoneware at 50/50 .. I hadn't realised how large the grog is in the earthenware, and this created some problems when it came to scraping the slip off. The sharp tool tends to drag chunks of grog out of the clay and the slip also seeps into uneven areas, making it hard to scrape the surface completely clean. I will try sanding it down a little after bisquing..and the glaze should absorb some of the thinner remnants.

Thrown and altered vase, approx 5 inches tall

When I got half way down, I felt it looked quite interesting so I think I'll leave it as it is. I may even just glaze the top half and see what kind of visual effect that creates. Part of me would rather not fire it at all..I like the way it looks now as raw clay.

This piece was mainly thrown, the sides flattened slightly, then the top was coiled. Getting the opening into the right shape was particularly fiddly..more difficult than I'd expected.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Many a slip between cup and kiln

There are so many ways to accidentally spoil a pot, it's no wonder we lose so many along the way. A few in the last firing didn't come out well for various reasons, one of which was that the bottomless saggar didn't work as I'd hoped. Despite a thick layer of sand in the base, it still sucked some oxygen in, so there wasn't enough reduction.

The slip on two pots bloated again, and I really thought I'd solved that didn't happen with all the slipped pieces though. I'm starting to wonder if the extra heat from the combustibles in the saggar is creating localised hot spots, and over-firing some of the pots placed on top of the kiln shelf, which I use as a lid. Next firing will be without a saggar, so it will be interesting to see if it reoccurs. I hope it doesn't!

Well, here are the pieces I was most happy with:

Cup with slips and ash glaze, approx 3 inches tall

By the way, this little cup above was the one where I applied the white slip after bisque firing. Red iron and black iron slips were applied at leatherhard, then it was bisqued. The white slip was brushed on and then it was dipped in a transparent ash glaze while the slip was still damp. This had the desired effect of reducing the thickness of the glaze application..the thinner this glaze is applied, the shinier it fires, and this time it came out perfectly.

Sake cup with shino glaze, approx 3 inches tall

Carved, shino bowl, approx 6 inches wide

Bottle vase with slips and ash glaze, approx 5 inches tall

Sake cup with oribe glaze, approx 2.5 inches tall

Tea light holder in the form of a bottle kiln, approx 5 inches tall

The tea light holder was previously fired in reduction, and although the colour was good, it had alot of craters in the glaze. So I refired it this time in oxidation. The glaze is more muted now, but still quite interesting..and the craters have pretty much disappeared.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

A bit of sun at last!

Hooray, the weather has finally broken a little and we have some sunny spells. I'm doing a small electric firing today, testing a new saggar which I've made just by coiling raku clay. It doesn't have a bottom, so I'm using a combination of kiln fibre and a thick layer of sand in the base to make it airtight. Not sure if it will work, so I've just put a couple of pots in to see if a reduction atmosphere is produced. I'm hoping that the raku clay will withstand the thermal shock of repeat firings and that the lack of a base may make it less likely to crack..we shall see.

soaking up the sun

Saturday, 12 May 2012

A carved, shino vase

approx 4 inches tall

From the last firing..I like the texture of this glaze. The pinholes are formed when the piece is dipped, caused by the roughness of the clay.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Found a little gem today!

I came across this gorgeous little pot in town today and couldn't resist buying it. It's beautifully made with a grey-green celadon glaze on the inside..measures about 3 inches wide. I absolutely love it and would really like to know who made it..does anyone recognise the potter's mark I wonder?

I've looked in the second edition of British Studio Potters' Marks, but so far no luck..

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A coiled form

I made this coiled form over the last four or five days, adding a couple of new layers of clay each day. I've not made large pieces just by coiling before, and I found it very difficult to achieve the exact form I wanted. With this method, I think one needs to have a very clear idea of the final design, since the shape can't be roughed out, and then pared down, as it can with a solid sculpture built onto a support. I wasn't entirely happy with it, especially  the side view, so I decided to take the knife to it and recycle the clay. I made a couple of quick cuts without thinking and suddenly the piece looked a whole lot more interesting..

approx 15 inches tall

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Nezumi shino cup

When I pulled this pot from the kiln last week, I was really underwhelmed by it, but it's another of those pieces which has grown on me alot. The other night I drank wine from it (several times!), and I enjoyed the contrast of the dark, red liquid with the very light, airy glaze. The cup is fairly heavy when full, but I like that when drinking alcohol, don't ask me why..and the carved facets and ledges make the cup feel secure in the hand.

Carved cup with shino glaze, approx. 3 inches tall