Christmas Morning Ceramic Whistles

Many times potters compare an opening of the kiln to a Christmas morning — so when a potter opens a kiln on Christmas morning, what then is the comparison? Christmas squared?

I had some pottery to bisque but I also had some whistles that I wanted to glaze in bright colors. I also did not want the opening of the whistle clay to ‘move’ or ‘warp’ during the firing. In the past, I’ve lost several whistles ‘tones’ by firing them too hot. The opening moved a bit and sadly, no more whistle.   Therefore, I decided to use lowfire glazes on these and help fill up the top shelf of the kiln.  They came through the firing with their whistle intact., ie., they sound great. 

Here they are:

Back in the Studio with cone 5 clay

I got on the wheel yesterday with one of my favorite clays from Texas Pottery, it’s a cone 5 red stoneware clay that does vitrify without bloating, called Red Taos. It’s yummy to work with, no grog, and reminds me of porcelain. It wedges nicely, throws nicely, and is very plastic.

I decided to take some Laguna Frost, cone 5 also, and make a slip to use for decorating. I got a hake brush and dipped it into the slip and let the wheel turn until each piece was fairly well coated. I cut each piece off the wheel, but touching was a no no until each piece became almost leather hard.

However, even after each piece was leather hard, and even though I tried my best not to smudge the slip, alas …. my fingermarks are everywhere. If you click on each of these photos, you can get a bigger image and you can clear see my fingermarks. This is what pottery does to me: it makes me crazy! All day long I’m going to be trying to figure out how to hold these in my hands long enough to add a handle or add more sprigs without ruining the lovely look of the slip.

I’m not a complete stranger to this technique. I did this same thing last year to this mug in this photo. I liked how it came out, but now that I want to alter it, I’m going to have to think about this some more if I want to make each piece completely unique. I’m going to take this mug, the glazed one, and add some laser decals to it and see how that shows up. Maybe I could play with these some and make some earthy “In The Garden” series from Red Taos instead of porcelain like I have been doing.

Just more things to think about. 🙂 It’s all good.

Two Dinnerware Patterns (2009-2010)

I suppose I should be mortified that it has been so long between postings. I’m not really. I’ve been busy in the studio, too busy to post anything or do anything but create, list items, and go to the post office.

I’ve been working mostly on pottery, my In The Garden series and Carved Porcelain series. The In The Garden series starts out with a porcelain mug or bowl or plate that has been bisque-fired (cone 04) and decorated with a black under-glaze to simulate plant life. Then it is dipped in a clear glaze and fired to maturity (cone 10). The next step is to affix a decal that I have drawn of a daisy character and put it back into the kiln at a lower temperature (cone 04) than the first firing. The last step is to affix colorful commercial decals which fire at a lower temperature (cone 015).

The cone 10 firing sometimes leaves beautiful red splotches on the porcelain in various places, which add to each piece’s uniqueness.

This is not quite so labor and firing extensive. Basically I throw the piece, let it dry to leather-hard, cut out a foot (most times), and then I hand trim to as thin as possible on the bottom without cutting through the piece. It’s very relaxing actually and I enjoy the rhythm. This is then bisque fired (cone 04), glazed and refired (cone 10)to bring out the texture.

I like each of these patterns for different reasons, one of which is to explore texture, color, and form. I’m going to continue making these patterns in my home studio with cone 5-6 porcelains and glazes. This frees me up to experiment and grow at school.