Has Spring Finally Sprung?

It certainly looked like it in my neighborhood.  I took these pictures today on the walk home from the pottery studio.

 

And here’s one of the cacti from Bob’s garden.    I know it looks like a bunch of deflated balloons now, but its cactus pads will be stiff as soldiers come summer.

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I have been busy making mugs and  I’ll post a few pictures in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, here are some of my favorite pieces from the Fleisher Student Show.

The Wopperjawed Pot

Woppy Jawed,  Wapper Jawed,  Whopperjawed,  Whomperjawed.  What do these words mean?    Something that’s askew.  Crooked.  Not straight.  Uneven, even.  And they all apply to my work.  I come from the measure three times and cut for the rest of the day school of crafting.  I wonder how I ever managed to make two quilts.  I used to fret about my crooked lines and uneven seams.  But as I got older, I got smarter.  Or maybe wiser (in the Equus africanus asinus sense, of course).  I embraced my flaws, including my wopperjawdiddidity. (I made up that word in case you’re wondering.)    Hence the Wopperjawed Pot.    The  Wopperjawed Pot is about 12 inches tall and is hand-built of white earthenware using the tarpaper technique.  I used colored underglazes,  stains, and chalks for the surface decoration.  Everything is covered with a clear matte glaze.  It took third place in ceramics in the Fleisher Art Memorial Student Show (the 120th annual!) and was the inspiration for the menorah.  Which is also wopperjawed.   Here are some pictures.

 

 

 

 

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The Picasso Vase

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.)
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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.

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The cat in progress.  I used underglaze chalks and liquid underglazes for color.

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        Right out of the kiln.

 

 

The finished vase.

 

Tarpaper Technique

 

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.

 

 

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Beware of sharks in the slip bucket!

 

Pottery Experiments

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.

Last Summer Class at The Clay Studio

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?  


BOORIS!

BORIS!

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

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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.

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TCS

I plan to take more classes at The Clay Studio, but in the Fall, I am returning to Fleisher.

What I am Doing This Summer

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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.

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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.

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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.

From Overalls to Cross Back Apron

My pottery overalls had finally bitten the dust. No wonder, they were more than 25 years old although I had not worn them for a number of years.  Saying goodbye to my overalls was a painful prospect.  What would I  wipe the clay on?  I decided to make an apron from them.

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First, I cut off the legs being careful to keep all the pockets.

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It was not until I turned the overalls over that I realized that I had the makings of a no-sew cross back apron!  Se my other post on how to sew one from scratch here

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Just cut the seam right down the middle of the back.

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Make sure the straps are plenty long to accommodate the cross over.

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Rear view.  You don’t have to unhook the straps to put on the apron which is what is so great about a cross back apron in the first place!

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Front view.  A great, easy, low-cost no sew cross back apron!  With pockets!

 

Nerikomi Mon Amour

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.

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Here is a fascinating video showing the Nerikomi process.

Back to The Clay Studio

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.

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