More teapots even though I don’t drink much tea. I’m not sure where these are going to end up. Some of my little teapots have found new homes.
Majolica glaze is a white tin or zinc-based glaze that provides a smooth coating on terracotta clay and acts as a perfect foil for underglaze decorations which are painted on top of the Majolica glaze. The beauty of the Majolica is that it doesn’t move, so anything you paint on top of it stays put. For an explanation of the process, press here and here.
Here are some classic examples: tiles from Portugal.
So I probably should not have been delighted when I took this out of the kiln.
And yet, I was. To be fair, I didn’t start off conventionally. I took a terracotta bud vase, dipped it in a cone 04 dipping glaze called Ice Blue (you can get the recipe in a free booklet on the Ceramic Arts Network site here. )
The glaze has chunks in it and it’s supposed to run and collect in crevices. It can look interesting when you use it on white earthenware (see right) and beyond boring over terracotta (middle).
We have a bucket of Majolica glaze in the studio and I decided to experiment. I had to dip the vase three times to get a good coat, letting the glaze dry completely between coats. You can see the crackling and crazing from the Ice Blue glaze in the right hand picture below that might have looked interesting had it been on the right kind of clay.
I let the glaze dry overnight before adding the underglaze decoration.
And here’s what I got! This was fired at cone 06. I surmise that the Majolica and the underglaze shifted because the Ice Blue glaze beneath it moved. I am not sure what I expected. Not everyone will like this, but for me it was a pleasant surprise.
Mary Schneider draws and paints on pottery, but what she depicts is not always the usual fruit, flowers and leaves you might expect to see. The inspiration for her latest creation came from walks to the Philadelphia Navy Yard that she took with a friend during the winter days of the pandemic lockdown. She plans to trade the plate, with the image of the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy for a pen and ink drawing of the same vessel by her walking companion.
I don’t drink much tea, but have become intrigued with making wheel-thrown teapots. Teapots are considered one of the most challenging items a potter can make. Mostly, I suppose because so many elements have to work together at the same time. The handle has to fit ascetically and physically. The spout has to pour efficiently and be placed so you can fill the teapot up. And when you do fill the teapot up, it can’t weigh a bloody ton. It has to be east to handle. And the lid needs to fit properly. You need to be able to get it on and off easily and it has to fit whichever way you put it on. And it has to stay on while you pour the tea, either by itself or be capable of being held in place while the tea is being poured.
And that’s just the physical attributes of the teapot. It also has to look good or at least not suck. I heard someone describe a teapot as a jar with a handle and a spout. Why not a mug with a spout and a lid, I thought? A little teapot to hold a nice cup of tea. I started small and here’s what I came up with.
Here’s what I started out with. Two mug-sized pots, lids, and three spouts each. You’re always supposed to make more spouts than what you need because you are sure to screw one up. Good advice.
Here’s one of the first teapots I put together. You might think it looks OK, but it’s all wrong. The lid is clunky and what about that knob? It’s really not good for much. And who could get two fingers through that handle? The body and spout are OK. I decided to trim the top of the lid which had plenty of clay to spare, and replace the handle.
Here’s the teapot with a trimmed lid and a new handle. I trimmed the lid of the other teapot flat too. I didn’t think a knob would work for either teapot.
My solution? A birdy knob for one teapot and a circle for the other. One third of the circle makes the knob and two thirds of the circle makes a nice handle. And they look like they belong on the same teapot.
I’m usually do underglaze decoration for my pottery. I thought I’d fool around with stains this time.
And here are the finished teapots. The handle on the birdy teapot is not optimal, but it is a vast improvement over how I started. More teapots to come!
I’m not sure how Julia Durand ended up in Philadelphia but she hails from France where she enjoyed a cartoon called Les Shadoks as a child. Les Shadoks inspired Julia to make a whole menagerie of creatures that I’d hardly call whimsical, but they certainly full of personality and each one has a different expression. It makes me wonder that they would say if they could talk. And if they did talk, it would probably be in French.
If you’re interested in checking out Les Shadoks yourself, they’re on YouTube with English subtitles.
More from the mind of Marjorie Waxman.
When I was in the first grade, my father promised to build me a desk. He finally started building it my senior year in high school. He completed it and painted it in my room while I was in bed, violently ill with the flu. I didn’t dare ask him to finish the desk when I felt better because it might have become one of my wedding presents.
My mother painted our whole house except she stopped in the upstairs hallway and never did finish. You could see where the paint just stopped. And we never get the house fully furnished because she had a hard time making up her mind.
My brother had a hole in his dining room wall for months. During one visit, my father asked him when he was going to fix it. My brother didn’t answer. I remembered the desk and felt smug enough for the both of us.
My niece gave birth to a little boy a few months back. My brother let me know she was expecting a few months before she was due. I found out she had a little boy after the fact. Better late than never.
By now, you have probably realized that I come from a family of procrastinators. The trait runs sluggishly through my blood. Nothing to get upset about once you accept it. It’s there like the Rock of Gibraltar.
Which brings me to the baby dishes. I made them after my great nephew made his entrance in October. Or was it September? Anyway, the pottery studio closed because of the pandemic and they went unglazed until 2021. Then I packed a box with the baby dishes and some other items I thought my niece might like, and found her address. Next stop, post office. Here are some pictures.
Clayathon starts this Friday, so I haven’t had much time to go to the studio lately. Today, I decided to decorate a set of nesting bowls with underglaze.
I think I’ll be better able to concentrate when Clayathon is over, although it should be lots of fun. If you’re curious about the polymer side of clay, check us out at Clayathon.org.
I’m back in the pottery studio this week decorating and glazing all the bowls I threw last year. The studio has limited access, we observe social distancing, and we all wear masks which is generally a good idea in a pottery studio. I’m glad to have a little brightness and color to add to these dark winter days. Spring is just ahead! Here are some pictures.
The pandemic is raging again and I joined my family on Zoom for Thanksgiving dinner. I was surprised at how well it turned out. We all just fired up our computers, parked in front of them with our dinner, and had a meal together even though we were in different locations. Much safer than traveling but we did miss the human contact.
The pottery studio is closed but I was working on decorating some bowls I had thrown when the closing announcement came down. I’m hoping to get back to them after the first of the year. In the meantime, here are some pictures. Stay safe and wear your mask!