Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Plettttthhhh-a -rah of Tea Pottttthhhs

(Think Daffy Duck.........)

How I got from this--------

To this.
("China Tea")

The top picture is of a first-time try at working with this form. The lid is thrown as is the spout--old familiar shapes I had used in round teapots. The glaze is layers of three different greens applied thickly and at random. I still have this pot and still love it.

The second try has a three-part constructed spout.

This handle is similar to one I made for a basket form but on the teapot, I didn't feel like I had complete control of the balance between the bulk of the pot and the handle.

Although the negative space is nice. It wasn't weighty enough to balance the strong volume of the pot.

The supports for the handle are long strips of clay manipulated into 3-D and veeeeeery carefully dried. Once dried, fired and glazed they are extremely strong, though they look rather fragile.

The next one was this:

I invented a new spout based on a tropical plant leaf, threw the lid a bit rounder and still struggled with the handle. By modifying and editing the supports, it looked stronger, but still just wasn't it.

Not bad negative space between the handle and lid. And I like the supports. I may try this again, but with a different top part.

With a couple of successive pots, (not pictured) I modified the flat handle to a large rounded one and flattened out the curve slightly. Unfortunately, I don't take photos of those before they sold.

The rounded handles looked better, but still were not it.

Then, I dumped the handle idea all together and tried cane.

This teapot was a success. I named it "Malachite Tea" because of the wonderful glaze result. It was in a show about 4 years ago and a slide had also been submitted to 500 Teapots, along with a couple of other teapot examples.

The teapot sold. After the book came out, I asked the gallery if I could have the name of the buyer so I could tell them their pot was included in the book. They either couldn't or didn't want to give me that information. It's really too bad. I would have liked the buyer to know.

Finally, I came up with "China Tea". By making the handle hollow (with lots of hidden holes to release steam and air) and could suspend it with the strip supports to create the look of heaviness and lightness.

The negative space between the lid and handle worked. The handle now had enough 'weight' to balance and relate to the body of the pot.

I've made several variations of the basic idea of "China Tea". Every one except this example which I've kept, were sold.

Along the way, changed glaze color and added a bit of surface decoration. I dropped the thrown lid and started making hand-formed lids. In this example and for this form, the lid works no matter how it is placed on the pot, the vine form links up with the side design on both sides of the pot.

It's also amazing the difference between one of these pots sitting flat on the surface and one lifted on legs.

Between these examples, I made a few other experimental pots, but didn't photograph them.

All of the above teapots were constructed in stoneware, electric fired at cone 5-6. Since these were made, I have switched to porcelain and, although the clay is slightly more temperamental, the results are basically the same.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Shoulders Vase

Another experimental piece.

I think flower vases that are heads etc. are very amusing. One day, I'm going to try one. But in the meantime, I thought I'd try shoulders first.

Rather tricky, constructing something that is so constricted and narrow, but I like the result. I have yet to put anything in it.

Years ago when I lived in Japan, I earned 3 certificates from the Sogetsu School of Ikebana in Tokyo.

My class were able to go to the headquarters of Sogetsu to see a fabulous show that included a giant rain-forest log arrangement.

It was about 15 feet long. Absolutely stunning. Sogetsu style is an avant guard approach to ikebana. Well, tackling a log would give you a clue.

Monday, October 20, 2008


One of my favorite things to do is find pictures of people who look like "twins separated by birth".

Yesterday, I listened to an interview with Mark Wahlburg on NPR and later watched the disastrous Seahawks game with Jim Mora Jr.. defensive coach, sweating it out on the sidelines.

It occurred to me that those two look a lot alike.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Funny Old Glaze

Would you believe these two pieces were fired using the same glaze?

Here's the whole story.

This is a glaze I purchased from Seattle Pottery called "Moss Brown."

When I first used it on the oval-bottomed baker, I first ran it through a Talisman sieve that removed rather large granulated sandy sludge. I was concerned when that happened that if I left it in the glaze, it wouldn't melt and I'd get a rough textured result. I was experimenting with varying the layers of glaze and was rather liberal with pouring and sloshing. (I like to glaze listening to Queen.)

Anyway, since practically everything I do is an experiment, I thought, "What the heck. Let's see what happens."

I liked the result.

Much later, I ran across the saved sludge in a container labeled "Sludge" and the next time I used this glaze, I added the stuff back into the mix.

The result was the round, very large dish shown at the top. It has a lovely matt, slightly textured surface. I wouldn't use it for baking, the glaze is too open, but it looks great on the table.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Two Lamps

While I was making the teapots, I also experimented with making lamps.

I have this large rolled oats cylinder in the 'forms box' that has been covered with a pair of old pantie hose. The hose make a barrier that protects the paper of the container and is flexible enough to allow the clay cylinder to slip off the form.

The pantie hose also provide something to grab onto to pull the form out after the clay has shrunk a bit and stiffened up.

After I got the clay slab rolled onto the form and sealed the seam, I began to cut long slices of clay and roll them up into swirls. I scraffitoed the form clay, dampened it and attached the swirlies big and small, all around the form. Then I rolled them out to blur the shapes, sealing them onto the clay cylinder.

After the clay became a bit softer than leather hard, I used a hole cutter to create the opening for the electrical cord. Then I placed the form onto a slab of clay that was also a bit stiffened and cut out the bottom of the lamp form. That was sealed on.

I haven't decided whether I want to throw a second base for the bottom, find a wooden base or just leave the lamp as it is.

That problem will solve itself after I've gotten a bit further.

I've thrown two top lids: One fits inside the lamp form; the other will rest a bit over the form. After they set up, I drilled an access hole in the center top for running the cord into the lamp body, bolting on the harp and snugging up the connections.

I want the lamp to come apart at the top so that it can be assembled easily. I'll probably just tack the lid on with museum gel or some kind of reversible adhesive.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

In the Studio

I have a couple of projects in the works right now. I'm finally listening to myself about doing two of each thing I make, BUT I have this problem about doing the same thing twice--I just can't seem to be able to do it.

It's always the question, "Can I do this better?" or "Let's tweek this and try that."

That's not such a bad thing.....but I start out to make two of the same thing and it always goes sideways. Must be in my genes. Like Alice of the Looking Glass, "I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it."

Case in Point: I'm working on two tall square teapots. They're hand-built using the same pattern pieces, but the first one was to be a variation on a previous teapot that sold through the gallery. I only have one prototype in my collection, so I decided to make another.

So, here it is in the unfired clay. Bigger spout, larger 'vines', no feet, bigger pot all the way around, but the same idea. It will have the same kind of cane handle when it's finished. I'll fire it in white and add some India ink to the crackles. Technically, it is a functional pot.

Okay, that's teapot number 1. Teapot number 2 was supposed to be the same, but.......then.......I put it all together into the 3-D form and started listening to the clay.

I just finished the lid this morning.

The whole thing just screams shino glaze.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Who Ate my Sandwich?

This is funny.

Anyone who has ever worked somewhere that had a community refrigerator can appreciate this, the "Prevent Sandwich Theft Plan".