The ceramic raku botanical tiles I made over a year ago are finally mounted and hung! (Thanks, Hubby). Some of the flowers are carved and some are appliqued. When I take a raku class again this summer, I may re-do the iris (because the glaze turned out dull) and zinnias (because I don’t like how they’re spaced on the tile).
I still have lamp bases to turn into lamps, globes to finish glazing and hang (in a sort of stationary mobile), and lots of bowls to work on.
And guess what hon? I’ll be selling my ceramics in May at an artisan event. Details to come…
I purchased this floral and geometrics needlepoint canvas at Wool & Grace and decided to switch the original colors from pinks and oranges to blues, yellows, green and grey. I finally had it made into a pillow and really like how bright and cheerful it is.
When it comes to Ceramics, it seems I work in sets. Maybe that’s my way of improving upon a technique or maybe it’s because I get into a creative zone and keep going. The past year, I spent a lot of time hand-building different size jewelry/catchall dishes: some made free-form and some using GR Pottery Forms. I re-visited pressing real leaves into clay, but when I used a dark stain called iron oxide to define stems and veins, it bled and smeared. More practice needed.
Carving into clay that’s been brushed with slip is a technique called Sgraffito. Slip is thin colored clay that’s painted on a piece before it’s put into the kiln to be bisque fired. The slip and clay are set aside to dry. “Once the piece is firm enough and the surface is not tacky, a design or pattern can be carved through the slip and into the clay body beneath. Once the design is pulled away by incising, there is a beautiful contrast between the slip and the clay. This contrast is stronger after firing and glazing.” (source: Cindy Couling)
A new semester of Ceramics classes started and I’m trying to get back to the pottery wheel.
Hon, you know what I’m meditating on when I work with my hands?Stories, characters, plots, and words. My mind doesn’t rest!
The Fall semester at the Visual Arts Center of NJ just wrapped up (shout out to Melissa, former co-student and now teacher!), but I’m looking forward to the Winter session when I can continue to play with clay! I love textures and patterns, so I was game to work with lace. I love how these ceramic dishes came out. They can be used for jewelry, soap, candy, catchalls, etc.
In the world of pottery, I also had a good time setting up and selling my ceramics at my synagogue’s Holiday Boutique.
What does it take to create these pretty, lace pieces?
run clay through slab roller to flatten
line up lace and use rolling pin to impress lace into clay
brush black slip over lace, peel lace off carefully, dry wet slip with hair dryer
Summer means Raku workshops! Peter Syak, one of my wonderful Ceramics instructors, teaches Raku out of his carriage house/studio. I always learn a ton, meet new students, and have a meditative time working on new projects. This summer I learned how to make a large coil pot, building it up with flat strips of clay. As soon as its smokey scent abates, I’ll bring my vase inside and add some tall decorative branches.
New ceramics supplies at the Visual Arts Center of NJ means time to experiment! I’ve been creating textured dishes with the studio’s GR Pottery Forms. These cool, fiberboard shapes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and I’ve been having fun trying out different forms, applying textures, and finishing with different glaze combinations.
Next up will be small, wheel-thrown bud vases. Hon, I’ll let you know how they turn out.
I spent a large part of the Fall semester’s Ceramic class working on a project that was way more challenging than I’d imagined. Since I’m going to Raku glaze and fire those pieces, that “Show-n-Tell” is a long way off. Once I’d finished throwing a number of closed spheres, I wanted to work on easier projects that would be glazed and fired much more quickly. Hon, you know I love texture so I pulled out my texture mats and got to work.
These ceramic pieces were created by using inspirational forms available at the studio. For the two small, shallow bowls and square bowl, rolled out clay was textured and then laid, trimmed and pressed into wooden bowls. The larger tray was textured and then draped, trimmed and pressed on top of a wooden tray. The berry bowl is an add-on. It’s not textured but I punched holes out to create a small colander. That was a project that I’d put away half-way done and just finished. So sweet!
Neriage (pronounced nair-ee-ah-gee)is the Japanese word for the technique of combining different colored clays.
Neriage, according to ceramic artist Thomas Hoadley, comes from “neri…a root word meaning ‘to mix’ and age…a root word meaning to ‘pull up.’ This refers to the pulling up action in throwing clay on a wheel, hence neriage refers to wheel work with colored clays.”
I created these bowls by layering brown and white clay, and then throwing the combined clay. I glazed the insides in matte white and the outsides in glossy clear. Stripes give way to swirls and, since I wanted to maintain the clays’ natural patterns and didn’t smooth the insides completely, you can feel some of the throwing lines.
Neither had I and, although I’d combined different clays in the past, it wasn’t until this spring that I learned what it was called. Peter Syak, one of my amazing instructors, had finished Nerikomi hand-built mugs and coordinating dishes and, as ones does in ceramics, I wanted to try to create the same. Peter glazed the insides and edges of his pieces with GB Blue and I used Sky. More posts to come on this very cool technique.
Nerikomi defined by Robin Hopper, author of Making Marks:
In Japan, the words ‘neriage,’ ‘nerikomi,’ and ‘zougan’ are all used for specific colored clay processes and there is some confusion as to which is which. In England they are often referred to as ‘agateware;’ in Italy they’re often referred to as “millefiori,” from a decorative glass-forming process meaning “a thousand flowers.”
In Japan the words neriage (pronounced nair-ee-ah-gee), nerikomi and zougan refer to different ways the colored clays are used. Always interested in why things are called what they are and the confusion surrounding names, I asked Thomas Hoadley, a long-time artist working with colored clays, about the Japanese names.
Hoadley told me, ‘When I became aware that colored clay work would be my primary life’s work, I figured I should get to the bottom of the nerikomi/neriage question. I had been told that even in Japan the terms are mixed up. I spoke to a Japanese woman who lives here, and she explained that neri is a root word meaning ‘to mix’ and age is a root word meaning to ‘pull up.’
This refers to the pulling up action in throwing clay on a wheel, hence neriage refers to wheel work with colored clays. Komi means ‘to press into,’ as in pressing clay slabs into a mold. Nerikomi thus means hand-building with colored clay, which in Japan I guess usually meant mold work. It has been expanded to include other methods of hand-building.”
Neriage and nerikomi both use either naturally occurring colored clays or light-colored clays that are specifically stained to satisfy the artist’s color requirement. Neriage, or agateware, is done by laminating different colored clays together and throwing them on a wheel to develop a swirling and spiraling blend of the clays. Cutting across the grain…will expose an infinite variety of random patterns.
Hon, just like my manuscripts, some ceramics are practice pieces, some get thrown away, and some will be polished and glazed another time. But, I’m happy with these small vases and bowls. I especially like the carving on the vases and the throwing lines on one of the bowls.
Wishing me–and you–places to go in our minds, practice and work where creativity keeps us in the moment and allows anxiety and self-doubt to disappear into the background.
I had no idea that a tea set project would take two years!
Wheel throwing a tea set was a challenging project for many reasons. Who knew that centering and opening a ball of clay that could fit in the palm of your hands would be so hard?! In my attempt to create tea cups, it looks weeks to get six, relatively similar sizes. Some were too thin and some were too lopsided–so many throw-aways!
Then there was the teapot itself. This proved so challenging that almost all of us students needed hands-on help from our instructor (Shout out to Beatrice!) She patiently taught us how to form a vessel and spout, a lid and, much harder than it looks, a handle.
After the tea cups and tea pot were made, what about a tray? My first attempt cracked in the kiln, and that’s where the project stalled. I didn’t want to glaze the pieces until I’d made them all so, discouraged, I put the them away. I waited and waited until I was ready to hand-build another tray. Two years later, this summer, I did.
The tea pot set saga is a metaphor for my writing, though working through the disappointments and successes of pottery feels completely different. In Ceramics, I’m more interested in the process than the product. When working on a manuscript, I enjoy the process, but have a specific goal in mind–to bring my characters and stories to life.
Whereas, the clay ignites my imagination…my imagination ignites the stories.
Hon, happy creating and imagining and working and persevering.