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.
This semester, my Ceramics instructor challenged us to make a set of small bowls that fit together around a center, chalice-shaped bowl, all resting on a plate. It really was a challenge! It took almost the whole ten classes to make, with a lot of mess-ups. My instructor said, “It’s all about the process.” When we’d had a particularly frustrating throwing day, the other students and I would remind each other to slow down and concentrate.
Hon, doesn’t “It’s all about the process” apply to so many things? That’s why I love my wise instructor and the patience Pottery teaches.
This summer, I took a Raku class taught by master ceramicist, excellent teacher, and all-around wonderful guy, Peter Syak. Not only did the hours fly by, the women I took the class with were great company. I was inspired by them, and by the talented students I take ceramics class with year-round. We learn from each other.
Pottery has given me a way to turn off stress, even if it’s just for a few hours a week. And I don’t mind getting my hands dirty.
Since I took this class last summer and know how beautiful the glazes are, this spring I threw a bunch of clay pots with Raku clay at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey.
Do you know what we potters call ourselves? ADDICTED! I’m pretty sure someone in our class wears a T-shirt that reads, “I’m a POT-head.”
To find out more about the Raku process, click on these links:
It’s time for Show-n-Tell and I’m sharing my latest ceramics. Have I mentioned why I love pottery? Because every step of the process takes so much concentration that I think of nothing else while I’m working. Also, any bowl with a cracked bottom can be used…as a planter!
Searching for a cookie to add to our Thanksgiving Day feast led to this recipe from Joy the Baker http://joythebaker.com/2011/12/oatmeal-walnut-cocoa-nib-cookies/. I only included chocolate chips (and not walnuts or cocoa nibs) in my version. After an official taste test (by son, his friend, one daughter and hubby), it got a thumbs up. Happy baking, hon!
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Place racks in center and upper third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Mix sugar, butter and eggs with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating for one minute on medium speed between each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.
In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix by hand. Add flour mixture all at once to butter and egg mixture. Beat on low speed until the mixture just comes together.
Add oats and chocolate chips. Use a spatula to finish incorporating the mixture by hand. Mix together until no flour bits remain and everything is well mixed together.
Scoop tablespoons full of dough onto prepared baking sheets. The recipe I used said the cookies would bake in 10 to 13 minutes but mine took about 20 minutes to bake. They are done when the top is a toasted brown color. After removing from oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Unbaked cookie dough may be left in fridge for about a week and freezer for over a month.