Friday, July 27, 2007

What a Difference a Glaze Makes, part 2

These examples are roughly the same shape. They're the salt and pepper shakers I make both in singles and/or in sets. These are singles because they are experiments with form and glaze. The pear on the left is glazed in only celadon. It's an early one. The second has an underglaze of black applied to the piece when was raw clay. I brush the underglaze on using a slowly spinning wheel. Same form - very different outcome: One composed, quiet, the other zany and playful. The black & white one reminds me of an Italian clown's striped leggings.

This is how I make them: I put about 1 1/2 lbs. porcelain on the wheel, center, then make a donut shape by opening a hole that goes straight down to the wheelhead in the center. I form a cone-shape that's about about an inch+ tall, wide at the bottom, narrow at the top with a tiny hole at the apex. The hole is small enough that the head of a dressmaker's pin would pass through--bead sized.

Then I carefully pull the sides up into a pear shape closing the form at the top and sealing the air within. (You can modify the shape once the pear is sealed, manipulating the trapped air.)

I set it aside for a day or until it becomes firm enough to have the application of a stem and/or leaves on the top. Keep it on the batt. Sometimes I carefully indent the top before affixing the stem. A leaf or two can be formed and added too, but keep in mind how you're going to deal with the underside of the leaf when it comes time to glaze. I usually make them pretty form-fitting to the pear.

Then I let the pear dry on the batt. When it's ready to come off, I smooth the bottom, sign the clay and set it on the self to be fired. Sometimes I wax the very bottom and just set it on the kiln shelf; other times I stilt the piece, as in this shot.

How do they work you ask? You will notice there are no holes in the top. Everything goes it and comes out the bottom. It's physics. You turn the pear over and pour the salt/pepper in through the cone which now acts as a funnel, gently rotate the pear upright and when you want seasoning, just shake the thing straight up and down. The cone has retained the granules inside by forming a donut-shaped reservoir inside, when you shake it the salt or pepper flies up to the top on the inside and some falls out the tiny hole at the top of the cone. Depending on how large the hole is, the more stingy or generous the fall-out is. One customer, after puzzling over how the thing worked, suddenly 'got it' and said, "Isn't it great when physic works?"

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