Hon, just like my manuscripts, some ceramics pieces were practice, some were 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.
One of my favorite things is to Raku fire with my teacher and potter extraordinaire Peter Syak. In a (small, masked and socially distanced) ceramic class this summer, Peter introduced the extruder, which is like a giant Play-Doh machine, but for clay.
I made seven bowls: three small ones without feet and four large ones with feet. My carving needs a ton of practice, but I like how some of the pieces came out.
Though Raku pottery is generally not food-safe, it’s safe with “dry” food such as candy, nuts, and pretzels.
The Copper Blue Luster glaze is beautiful, and I always like the crackles that show up when using Clear Glaze.
Wheel throwing, hand building, trimming, carving, sanding and glazing force me to be in the moment. This summer, due to Covid-19, one of my Ceramics teachers offered a limited-spot, mask-wearing class. One of the wonderful things about learning from and working with Peter Syak is ending class with an always-dramatic Raku firing. My favorites pieces from the class are a desk caddy and lamp bases (my first ever lamps!). We used an Extruder, which is like a giant Play-Doh tool, to make unique bowls. I carved them and added feet, but won’t know they turn out until I Raku fire them this Fall.
I’m hoping to have as much fun tonight as I did last year manning a table of my ceramics at Oheb Shalom is South Orange, NJ’s One Stop Shop Fall Shopping Event from 6 – 9pm. I’ve made textured dishes, great for jewelry, watches, candy, soap, candles, soy sauce, olive oil, salts or anything else that needs a pretty place to rest. I’m also selling bowls, small vases and trivets. New this year–adorable jars.
At the Visual Arts Center, I finally got a chance to try the Extruder mounted on the wall of the Ceramics Studio! My classmates threw a bunch of different colored clay into the metal body and our teacher (shout out to Melissa) worked it like a giant Play-Doh toy, squishing the clay down through the metal tube. We “caught” the clay as it came out in interesting tubular shapes.
I added bottoms, holes for design interest, and sanded before swirling a glaze color called “Dark Stormy Night” inside the vases. Glazing with clear on the outside highlighted the marble effect of combining different colors of clay. So cool!
I also made my first small wheel-thrown jars (shout out to Jessica for the demos), adding objects to the top of two of the jars while the third has a built-in knob. Guess what I used to secure the glass bead and petrified wood knobs? According to Melissa, it’s “astronaut glue!” Those knobs may outlast the jars!
When my daughter and I shopped for her new apartment in LA, we searched for cute, little, multi-use bowls and couldn’t find any. Hon, you know what a ceramicist says when she can’t find what she’s looking for? You guessed it…”I can make that!” Combine that with wanting to try a new glazing technique and voilà-shaving cream marbleized ceramic bowls!
I’m definitely going to try this glazing technique again. Now I have to throw some more bowls…
I’m selling my work tonight, Thursday, November 29 at Oheb Shalom is South Orange, NJ’s One Stop Shop Fall Shopping Event from 7 – 9pm. I’ve made textured dishes, great for jewelry, watches, candy, soap, candles, soy sauce, olive oil, salts or anything else that needs a pretty place to rest. I’m also selling bowls, small vases and trivets. A variety of vendors will also be there so, hon, I might come home with more than I make!
As promised in my post Show and Tell: Doing Dishes–ta da–here are my finished Raku pics. I’m happy with the wiggle wire circular boxes and Japanese lantern boxes. Either shells or stones will be attached to the top of the lantern boxes. Some jewelry dishes turned out bright, but some weren’t as pretty as I’d hoped. Those will get a coat of acrylic paint and varnish.
A shout out goes to Peter Syak, Uber-Instructor, Intensive-Scheduler, Person-With-the-Most-Patience, and Master-of-Fire (it feels like mwahaha should follow Master-of-Fire.) The Raku firing process is so exciting!
Check out the show-stopping, 1750 degree F clay as the kiln top is lifted.
Sawdust burst into flames as soon as the pieces came in contact with it.