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.

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.

cactus

 

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.)
14.cutouts

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.

04.Cat

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.

 

 

9.TP60548_2

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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1.2unglaze

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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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5.glazefired2

6.glazefired3

7.inside

 

 

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

7.Veneer

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.

8.rawlaybeads

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.

6.Untumbled

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.

1.1

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

2.23.3 back

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

4.4back cut

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

5.5Roomtoextendthestraps

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

6.6TheCrossBack

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!

7.7Crossback2

8.8Stillhavethepockets

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