Many people, including yours truly, are daunted by the thought of pulling a handle for a mug. So rather than face the task with fear, I decided to pay special attention to my mug handles to see whether I could come up with handles that are fun to make. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
I’ll start with the bad news. Boris broke the Picasso Vase! He was flinging himself to the top of his cat tree to claim a treat and everything between him and the treat was, shall we say, fodder for collateral damage. He got the treat and the vase hit the floor. I repaired the vase today with some 23k gold leaf and epoxy (Kintsugi) and might still put it in the Fleisher Art Memorial’s 2018 Student Show. We shall see.
In the meantime, I have been working on soliciting auction and goody bag donations for Clayathon 2018. There are going to be some wonderful items this year and one-third of the auction proceeds go to The Center for Pediatric Therapies and Ron Lehockey’s heart pin project.
I donated some pottery last year and it was pretty popular so I decided to contribute two lidded vessels to this years’ auction.
The vessel on top is screen printed with underglazes and the lower one is painted with underglazes. The vessels are hand built using the tarpaper technique.
Here’s a picture of the vessels before they were painted and a picture of the finished vessel I showed you in the tarpaper technique post. I call it the Sassy Box and plan to make some mug handles with the same design as the handle on the Sassy Box lid.
I made a Picasso vase. Or rather, the other people in the studio started calling the vase The Picasso Vase before I ever thought of it. Probably because of the shape which would have been impossible to achieve without the tar paper technique (which I also used to make the menorah.)
You can from the picture above see how difficult it would have been to support the vase in its wet state without the tar paper to support it. It was three wet slabs with beveled edges, scored and pinched together.
Paper covered vase on left (upside down). Bone dry vase before bisque firing on the right.
If the vase was to be an homage to Picasso, I needed to decorate it with Picasso-style images. I decided on a cat, a mouse, and a fish. Here are some preliminary sketches I made for the mouse. I started with realistic drawings and got more abstract as I went.
I had no problem deciding on the cat portion and the fish came to me all at once.
Here are the designs for the mouse and fish, drawn on the bisque-fired vase with an underglaze pencil.
The cat in progress. I used underglaze chalks and liquid underglazes for color.
Right out of the kiln.
The finished vase.
I made a menorah for my stepson and his family to welcome them into their new home. The shape of the menorah was inspired by a vase I was working on (still unfinished) and I used the tar paper technique of hand building ceramic shapes that I described earlier in the year.
Here are some construction pictures. The menorah is hollow.
And here is a picture of the final product after bisque firing and glazing.
Ever wonder what happens if you give a cat a dreidel? If he’s Boris he’ll play for treats and clean you out.
I am having a good time in the pottery studio experimenting with the tar paper technique. The items below are white earthenware in different stages of finishing. The tar paper supports the soft clay slabs and allows you to make all kinds of crazy shapes. Of course I have to see how far I can push it. Stay tuned.
Beware of sharks in the slip bucket!
And that is what they are: experiments. I spent the summer trying different hand building techniques and seeing what I could do with white porcelain. I threw a lot of what I made away mostly because of mishaps during the glaze firing. And I made a few pounds of unglazed beads, pendants and trinkets that are colored with Mason stains. Those will get a ride in the rock tumbler which should give them a smooth, shiny satin finish. I also made a few bead trees so I can make glazed beads. So, here is what I ended up with:
Some bangles (I wish I had made more of these) some nerikomi dishes, one mug, a platter with a feathered slip design, and two mid-century modern-looking vases that I will find good homes for.
I spent my last class at The Clay Studio this Summer glazing and glazing. We have to have everything off our shelves and ready to be fired by the end of the week. And because it was the last class, we all brought food to “celebrate.” Since it is a morning class, I brought doughnuts. Or I had planned to bring doughnuts. I made the mistake of leaving them in a plastic bag on the counter last night. When I got to them this morning, they were crushed to crumbs and there was a hole ripped in the bag. The culprit?
Boris came to live with us exactly one year ago and he has gone from a timid, scared jumpy cat who sleeps all the time into a little feisty feline felon. This is his house now and he is not about to let us forget it.
On to the pottery
The above pieces are white porcelain with underglaze surface decoration. They’ll get glazed with a clear satin matte glaze.
The pieces below are nerikomi fired at cone 6 and unglazed.
I plan to take more classes at The Clay Studio, but in the Fall, I am returning to Fleisher.
Making veneers for vessels using white porcelain and Mason stains. I made this one into a vessel that should be coming out of the bisque fire soon.
Making porcelain pendants and beads. The pieces in the above photo will need a bisque firing after they dry completely, and then a cone 6 fire.
Here are some pieces that have already been fired at cone 6. They are not glazed; I finish them in a rock tumbler which gives them a smooth satin finish.
And here are some tiny glazed ring bowls with just a touch of gold. I plan to make some more of these.
I have become fascinated with the ceramic art of Nerikomi which is understandable since I work in polymer and glass. Nerikomi is the name of a technique similar to millefiore for creating patterns in clay using colored clay. Nerikomi is also known as Neriage but I am not sure what, if any, the differences are.
Be that as it may, the first Nerikomi I ever saw what the work of Cate Fetterman at The Clay Studio in the 1980s. Recently I saw that Nell Hazinski, another pottery artist I met at The Clay Studio, was giving a Nerikomi workshop in the Philadelphia area. I couldn’t take the workshop, but I decided to try the technique after seeing these two pots in the Victoria and Albert Museum Ceramic collection
I am sorry to say that I do not know the name of the artist. I think it might be Dorothy Feibleman, but I cannot confirm that. You should check out her work anyway.
Here is my first attempt at Nerikomi using white earthenware and Mason Stains. I am currently trying the technique with colored porcelain which gives a much nicer result.
Here is a fascinating video showing the Nerikomi process.
I have been dreaming about working in porcelain clay ever since I stopped going to The Clay Studio almost 25 years ago. I love the pottery studio at the Fleisher Art Memorial and plan to return, but they only fire earthenware and terra cotta, no stoneware and no porcelain.
So I signed up for a hand building class at TCS and am on my way to porcelain bliss. I spent last Tuesday digging into a bag of porcelain clay and making pinch pots, a soap dish and a little sculptural piece. There are so many new things I want to try that I have to remind myself to breathe.
I feel so lucky to have two great pottery studios so close to me. The Clay Studio is another Philadelphia treasure.