Wiggling and Faceting: More DIY Pottery Tools

I’m taking a throwing class at The Clay Studio this summer with a wonderful teacher.    At our last class, we learned how to throw faceted pots.  Read more about faceted pots here.

FacetedPots

Some examples of faceted pots we saw in class

Then the teacher showed us a faceting tool with a wiggle wire instead of a straight wire.  It left interesting patterns when it was dragged across the clay to cut facets, and there are a number of ways you can drag the wiggle wire through the clay to decorate your pot. Take a look at some examples here.

I have always liked the look of mugs that were cut off the wheel with wiggle wires, but I never invested in a tool to do it.  That and the faceting tool got me to thinking.  Why not make myself some wiggle wire tools?  And that’s what I did.

 

I made a cut-off tool first.  I had an old straight wire cut-off tool that was a bit frayed.   I simply coiled the wire around a mandrel and it kept its shape when I removed the mandrel.

 

If you don’t have a spare cut-off tool, you might try coiling stainless steel wire which is more difficult to do and not as flexible, but if you coil a long enough piece, it should work.  I would recommend a 22 gauge or so wire. Crafting and similar type wires are probably too soft and liable to rust.   Attach the ends to washers or dowels and voila!  a wiggle wire cut-off tool.

For the faceting tool you will need a piece of wood about the size of a small pocket comb, say four or five inches long and an inch or so wide.   I cut off part of a paint stirrer that was thick enough to accommodate screws but I would recommend a sturdier wood for a better tool.

I  drilled holes to accommodate two flat-head screws and two holes on each side for the screw eyes.

I coiled some 22 gauge stainless steel wire around a mandrel.  I recommend that you secure the mandrel and wire in a vise before winding.  It will make the job much easier.

 

 

Insert the hardware.  You might want to add a drop of wood or epoxy glue in the screw hole if you are using a soft wood.

Uncoil the wire.  It will be stiff.   Make several wraps around the screw eye and feed a straight section through the slot in the nearest screw. You might have to straighten out a bit of the wire with flat pliers to do this. The picture shows you how you should have your screw angled and why a Phillips head screw won’t work.

Stretch the wire over to the next screw and make sure it fits into the screw slot before winding the rest around the other screw eye.  Be careful when you cut this wire because it is stiff and can go flying.  You can tighten the wire by turning the screw eyes.

 

You can also try pulling out springs you might have around the house and using them to facet pots.  But I think the tool would give you more control.

Two more tools to add to my vast and growing collection!     Here’s a video showing how to put facets on a pot with a wiggle wire.

 

 

 

 

What I’m Working On

I’ve been participating in the #100DayProject on Instagram
trying to create something every day and post a picture. I’ve been working on projects, like making a set of mugs, rings for friends, painting my house, helping Boris write stories for the Step Potato and the Step Banana and numerous other things. I’m mixing batches of colored porcelain in my basement to add to thrown pieces and to make jewelry. I’m still puzzling out hollow polymer beads and strong magnetic closures. And doing some volunteer work with the Color Wheels project at Fleisher Art Memorial. Here are some pictures

BeadsinovenPolymer beads in the oven

BorisandhisMug                        Boris admires his new mug

ClayStudioThrowing porcelain at The Clay Studio

ColoredClayMixing colored clay

IMG_20180711_111409Color Wheels: Gelli prints at the East Passyunk Rec Center 

IMG_20180711_111732MoreBeadsMore polymer beads

PendantColored porcelain pendant with gold embellishment.

Fireworks!

The fireworks got rained out last night but we still had a good time at The Sparkle Lounge where I watched lightning bugs dance on the lawn and eased the pain of a gimpy knee with a potent Sangria

Here is a film of the fireworks from a few years back.  Enjoy  and have a happy Fourth of July.

 

Recent Work: Cuff Bracelets

I’ve been busy house painting (more on that later) and have taken a brief vacation from metalsmithing.   Here are some cuff bracelets I made last spring.

Brass and copper riveted, roller printed, porcelain shard.

Turquoise donut, fold formed brass, copper backplate riveted to cuff

DSCF2363  Fold formed copper cuff with Jasper, etched brass, and sterling bezel,  Everything is riveted to the cuff including the backplate holding the stone.

 

Tab set porcelain shard, roller printed brass.  The porcelain pieces are made from colored clay and are unglazed.

DSCF2379

My True Colors

I’ve decided that it’s time to redo my powder room and master bedroom.  I’ve been wanting to paint the bedroom for a while while but could not decide on the paint color.  I  finally settled on Special Gray by Sherwin Williams.  I needed something that went with the purple headboard  I painted on the wall years ago.  People thought I was insane to paint a headboard on my wall back then.  Now, I am happy to say,  the Internet is loaded with images and ideas for painting a headboard on the wall.   Those who came to scoff stayed to paint.

I have started prepping the powder room for painting.  I’ve selected Positive Red for the walls and Gulfstream for the trim and the funky ornate framed mirror that I found at a thrift shop.  I’ll post pictures if I ever finish.  In the meantime, here are some pictures of some unconventional paint jobs in my house.

 

headboard

 

My insanity is not limited to headboards.    I went through a funky painted furniture stage.  This is my husband’s nightstand.  He said he quit drinking because he was afraid of waking up one morning with a hangover and seeing it first thing.

nightstand

And this is the broken mirror mirror that goes with it.

brokenmirrormirror

These are some shots of the upstairs hallway.   I made the built-in bookcase on the left  from an old wooden ladder and paneling.    Necessity is a mother.

This is the kitchen door and the third floor dormer.  I painted clouds on the dormer walls because it’s the highest room in the house.

frontdoorwithpic bottomright

This is the front door.  Yes, that’s a picture frame in the right hand corner. Here’s the story behind that:   My husband  threw a shoe at the door during a rather heated discussion we were having.  The shoe left the perfect image of a shoe on the then white door. We ceased our donnybrook to admire the image. Better than a marriage counselor.  When I painted the door, I put a frame around the image and dated it to preserve the memory.  My Stepson noted that the image resembles George Bernard Shaw from a certain angle.  And so it does.

 

These images show a counter that I tiled and a wall of empty frames in the living room.  The counter mosaic consists of cut up scrap stained glass, broken dishes, and pottery.  Most of the frames are street finds or flea market purchases.

Boris

Boris  likes to hang out in the hallway so I guess he approves.

Is Saltwater Etching Safe?

I’ve been saltwater etching for a long time and didn’t know all the chemistry behind it. Then I watched Nancy LT Hamilton‘s new video on electro-etching and learned how dangerous the chemical byproducts of saltwater etching can be.   As the Reddit article explains:

“Using saltwater as your etching electrolyte can be rather problematic due to competing side reactions. The main one of course being electrolysis of salt, which produces chlorine at the anode and hydrogen at the cathode. So you would have a toxic gas and a highly flammable gas to deal with.  The other product of electrolysis of NaCl solution is sodium hydroxide,[my note: lye] which remains in solution.”  

I encourage you to read the whole article, here.  and to watch the video, here.  Hamilton offers alternatives to saltwater that will allow you to etch better and more safely.

 

And on a lighter note,  my neighbor Bob added some beautiful new plants to his garden.  I just have to show you more pictures.

Young Artists

I’ve always loved children’s art.  I still have some ceramic pieces from a stint as a camp counselor more than forty years ago.  One of my Stepson’s pieces is on proud display on a bookshelf in the living room and drawings by the Step Potato and Step Banana hang in the kitchen.  So I always look forward to the Annual Young Artists Exhibition at Fleisher Art Memorial.  This years’ show, on view until  June 16, showcases the work of 500 kids from ages 5 to 18,  who participate in art programs at Fleisher.  I naturally gravitate toward the pottery but I enjoy it all.

 

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Another great Fleisher-sponsored art program for kids and one for which I volunteer  is Color Wheels.  Read more about Color Wheels here.

Bob’s Garden May 2018

The bigs news is that Bob built a new Koi pond this year. The other big news is that Turtle has a brand new perch and a big pot of water hyacinth to munch on. He seems happy and does not appear to be eating the new guppies that Bob has added to the pond.

Bob has added new plants, but think he is still deciding on the final design of the garden. He also has a little collection of plants that people are free to take if they want. While I’m sure Boris would like a plant to chew on, I think I will pass on the offer.

Here are some pictures.

Enjoy the Koi pond!

What I Learned in Bonnie Bishoff’s Class

Last week, I took a two-day workshop with Bonnie Bishoff entitled “Polymer Meets Wire,”  sponsored by the New England Polymer Artist Guild.   Bonnie is probably best known for the extraordinary furniture she made with her husband and artistic partner, J.M. Syron, and her superbly-crafted cane work.   But there was no cane making instruction in Polymer Meets Wire.  Instead, the class was packed with information on how to construct lightweight and durable open forms, findings, and components by first making cores of epoxy clay and wire and then covering them with polymer veneers.  Then she showed us how to assemble them into delicate-looking necklaces, pins, and bracelets that did not rely on soldering to hold them together.

Bonnie

I am really excited about what I learned because now I have the means to address some design and construction problems that have been dogging me for years!  I also learned about the properties of various metals and why some are better for building inner cores than others.  Good to know.

Class

Bonnie also showed us some clever wire measuring tricks and taught us the ins and outs of working with epoxy clay, Genesis  Heat Set Medium and liquid clay.

My head was exploding by the middle of the first day and I still need to process all I learned.  Fortunately, Bonnie provided us with detailed written materials and drawings.

Here are some pictures of a cuff bracelet that I started in the class and finished when I got home.  Not my favorite cane work, but I have a feeling that I will be making more of these.  Thank you, Bonnie!

 

The class was held in the home of Ann Marie Donovan, who was a gracious, welcoming and friendly hostess.  Not only did she open her home up to 14 students, she provided us with a delicious lunch both days, coffee and snacks.  Thanks, Ann Marie and thanks to Kathryn Corbin for organizing the class and laughing at my jokes.  Well, most of them anyway!

To see more of Bonnie Bishoff and J.M. Syron’s work, check out their Pinterest board.

Looking for Inspiration? Try a Flea Market

Spring is when the outdoor flea markets spring up in Philadelphia.  My favorite Saturday activity is to take long walks through the neighborhoods and hit house sales, sidewalk sales, and flea markets on my way.  I usually look for household items I might need at sidewalk sales.  Estate sales are especially interesting because they are usually held in affluent neighborhoods and you get to see some pretty impressive homes from the inside as well as antiques and art.  You also learn that money does not always equal taste, but we knew that already, didn’t we?

Flea markets are fun because the sellers are generally pretty friendly in my experience and some are eager to talk about their wares even if you don’t buy.  They’re a place to learn, meet people, and relax.

WalkLikeAnEgyptian

John S. Whitney, Jr. has a clever way of attracting buyers to his table filled with antique art and jewelry.  He also sells from his store, the Nue Gallery, in Lansdown, PA.

While I don’t collect antiques or vintage items, and rarely buy jewelry,  I find plenty of inspiration at flea markets.  You will find plenty of shapes and color at flea markets, in the form of old pottery vintage clothing, brightly colored cloth, old appliances, or just plain rusty stuff.  I have found some great old tools at flea markets, but I also look for things I can incorporate into my art, like old jewelry, metal objects I can cut up and repurpose, ephemera,  or anything that I can fit into a bezel.

Here are some pictures from my last flea market foray

 

And here’s what I bought: two cheap copper cuff bracelets and two cheap brass ones.  Total, $5.00.  I plan to reuse the metal to make something new.  I also found a vendor selling cabochons and treated myself to some lovely striped jasper for another $10.00.

My Haul