A Week of Positives: Ceramics

1,750 degrees F! That’s the temperature the Raku kiln must reach before Peter removes pottery and then sets them in a bed of sawdust where they burst into flames!

Pottery is therapy!

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.

Want to know more about Raku firing? Check out Raku Intensive.

Lamp base, unglazed.
Lamp base, unglazed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unloading the Raku kiln.
Lamp bases, glazed.
Desk caddy.

 

Play-Doh for Grown-Ups

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!

Extruder Vases.

Show-n-Tell

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!

Shaving Cream Marbleized Ceramic Bowls

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!

Fill pan with shaving cream and then spread shaving cream evenly.
Drizzle different colors of underglaze. Swirl colors together. I wondered about using underglaze versus glaze, but the underglaze adheres to the clay body better, whereas in the kiln the glaze may run.
Roll bisqued pieces in shaving cream/underglaze mixture. Carefully rinse off shaving cream and let pieces dry fully before firing.
Fresh out of the kiln!

I’m definitely going to try this glazing technique again. Now I have to throw some more bowls…

Show and Tell: Doing Dishes

Wheel-thrown dessert plates.

Woohoo! I made my first set of wheel-thrown dishes.

So what if the plates shrunk in the kiln more than I anticipated? So what if I made eight, but one was too thin and had to be scrapped? So what if the earth-tone glaze applied along with blue doesn’t show at all? And so what if I need to sand the bottoms more? These are the first plates I’ve made that look and feel like plates as opposed to, say, hockey pucks! I also made a set of four handle-less mugs, and am working on several Raku projects, which are in the beginning stages. Updates to follow when my pieces are fired.

Happy creating, hon!

Want to know what a wiggle-wire is? Click here to read more about this cool pottery tool.