Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Square Bead

This is a solid bead. Made of porcelain.

I haven't a clue what I'm going to do with it.
I just like it.
Think I'll make some more.

Friday, September 24, 2010


The cormorants are back.

Fall is definitely here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Wedgewood" Beads

These handmade beads are also hollow and decorated in a technique called pate sur pate, meaning clay over clay.

The body of the bead is made of colored bisque.

The decoration is made by creating a white slip and applying it with a fine-point brush.

Quite tedious.

They are fired using a bead rack holder in the kiln.

Another bead using the same technique but this time the addition of tiny white clay balls. Very tedious. I use dental tools to apply the little clay balls to the bead.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kiln opening

The kiln opening went fine with the exception of one teapot. I was attempting a bas-relief of figures on the sides and one side popped off onto the shelf. Hammer Time. Next time, I will sculpt the sides and join them when they're leather hard. Trying to form the figures on the side of the pot after it's put together causes too much difference in the dampness of the two operations. I suspect that's my problem, anyway.

Live and learn................................Live, mostly.

My other pieces came out really well.

While I was unloading the kiln, I kept hearing scratching sounds. The studio is in one finished double garage; the kiln room is another attached unfinished garage. There's a door between. I had left the door open since my storage shelves for bisque are in the studio. My dog was snorting his brains out and when the noise finally penetrated my brain, I began to wonder what was going on.

I walked into the studio and was almost eye-to-eye with a red squirrel running around the ceiling on the garage door rails. I don't know how he got in. Maybe he snuck in the door when my back was turned. He can get into the attic--much to my irritation. I keep thinking we'll finish the spaces out and I'll eliminate that problem, but seems like everything else comes before that.

Anyway, I panic because I have a lot of work standing on shelves all over the place, the dog panics because his heart's desire is within reach, the squirrel panics because he's a squirrel.

He jumps from the door rails to a shelf, runs along it behind the bisque, across to the corner where my glaze materials are stored, back behind two shelves loaded with some of my prize pieces. He's just dancing on the open support strips, runs across two window sills. All the while the dog is barking and jumping. Yee gods! I grab the broom, open the garage doors, shut the adjoining door and try to chase him toward the big opening so he can get out of there. In the process, I run into a major spider web (they're moving inside because cold weather is coming) get web all in my hair and have a spider running around on my shoulder and arm.

Meanwhile, the squirrel runs back across a window, the back behind the shelves of prized pieces, across another window, back to the glaze stuff; the dog jumping like he's on a pogo stick. Every time he barks, the squirrel gets a little crazier.

I wave the broom, block him from the adjoining door and try to chase him toward the open garage door. He finally gets it, makes a mad dash down the wall. (How'd he do that!) and out onto the driveway, the dog in hot pursuit.

That little devil. I've tried to catch him with a Hav-A-Hart baited with everything I can think of. He has an abundance of pine cones, so he's not interested in sunflower seeds or peanut butter. I'd love to take him for a ride.

Friday, September 17, 2010

New 04 Firing Sched

Trying out a new computer program for my Skutt.

After looking at the book, Mastering Cone 6 Glazes, I decided to take their recommended bisque firing sched.

Since most of the pieces in this firing are porcelain and a couple of them are maybe a bit damp, I'm going to see how it works.

04 Bisque

80 - 212F/0 (slow)
180 - 1650F/0 (fast)
100 - 1760F/0 (slow)
80 - 1944F/20 (soak)

Alarm 1000

Delay 9 hours

Fingers crossed!

Bone Buttons

Isn't this a great bunch of buttons?

I picked this selection up somewhere and instead of taking them to the sewing machine/button boxes, I took them to the studio.

They are there in a plastic bag, in the desk to remind me to do something with this look. Maybe replicate them with porcelain and underglaze and attach them to something. Maybe to decorate a whole bowl/platter/pot with a design in the spirit of the buttons en mass or just one.

I don't know yet, but they are there----

To remind me-----

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Glazed Bead

Here's another version of the decorated bead. Only this time, instead of being bisque, it's glazed.

The glaze softens the appearance of the leaves, but I love the minute crackle that happens.

A Porcelain Pendent

This is a test of using porcelain to create a pendent as a centerpiece for a necklace.

I'm thinking multiple strands of seed beads, possibly blue, to flank both sides of the pendent. It would need to have a central anchor threaded through the top with discrete loops on both ends to support the addition of the beads. --Still a work in progress-- The thread is to remind me of an alternate way to attach the pendent.

This piece was made primarily to see how the particular clay I had would turn out and the firing technique would work. The piece is unglazed on the back.

The piece is glazed with a clear glaze and fired at a cone 5-6 oxidation.

I think it has potential.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hand Made Beads

Yesterday, when I was making a necklace with some clay and antique beads, I ran across several beads that I made of porcelain.

I've never photographed them before except once, using another bead several years ago, for an article in Studio Potter.

I have several different ones, each hand constructed and made with a different technique.

They are not large as you can see. They're hollow. I used a marble and made a two-part mold to form the ceramic beads, then cut the holes for stringing with either a needle tool or a bamboo skewer.

It's best to let them get leather hard first, put them on the skewer so you can work on the exterior and then enlarge the hole for stringing.

All the decoration is hand formed and placed on the surface using either a very light touch or a needle tool/dental tool.

This bead is bisque, fired on a bead rack in the kiln. The clay is porcelain fired at 04 cone electric.

I've never sold any of these beads--I haven't a clue what to ask for them. Any suggestions?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

More Banquet Table Garnitures


I found some pictures finally.

This is close to the kind of table decorations I was talking about. And this example is ceramic.

Totally over the top:

It's still not the kind I've been looking for, but close.

I don't know if you would be able to find the food with this all over the table.

Some of these elaborate decorations were constructed with sugar.

If you saw the movie Vatel about Francoise Vatel, the legendary chef, you would remember the elaborate work done with glaced fruit and sugar baskets arranged for one grand banquet....

Here's something that might work in modern settings.

I've often thought of making an entire table ensemble to use for serving a full curry meal with warming dishes for the sauce and rice; small interlocking condiments dishes to match. is a great site to explore.

Friday, September 3, 2010


A web search has turned up these examples of frogs:

I think this is the 1940s-1960s style pansy frog discussed in the comments of the previous post.

And lo and behold, I found the two part arrangement I didn't know existed that my
little green pot should go in.

A couple of weirdies showed up:

These decorations were made up of components that could be arranged in many different ways in included small sweetmeat dishes, candle sticks, small sculptures, flower holders.

Meissen, Wedgwood, Serves, and other tableware manufacturers made them for royalty, nobility landed gentry for palaces and stately homes.

I scoured my books on porcelain and couldn't find an example of the elaborate banquet table garnitures used during the Regency, Baroque, Empire and Victorian periods, but here's an idea of the style from a silver centerpiece example.

Why not make a modern version of a table garniture now? An arrangement of tiles that would serve as trivets for hot dishes. A porcelain centerpiece and sculpture piece? An arrangement for a special dinner like curry with all the condiment dishes in an interlocking arrangement?

Food for thought. Pun Pardon Requested

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pansy Vase

This is a bit of fun.

A lady asked me at a show if I made Pansy Vases. I'd never heard of them before.

They are small vases that are designed to hold water at the bottom and have small holes to thread pansy stems through so you wind up with a dome covered with blossoms. Any small flower will work, but I guess pansy fanciers are the ones roaming venues in search of such things.

So, of course, I went home and made some and then called her to let her know I had some for sale.

They're simple, really, to make. Just establish a form that's like a cup, making sure you have a flat base. The bring the sides up and collar it into a dome, closing the top and smoothing it out.

Make sure you use your pin tool to make a small hole so as the dome dries, the air inside can escape over time. Otherwise, the shrinkage will compress the enclosed air and all kinds of problems can develop.

This example was my first test piece, so I had fun cutting different-sized holes to see what worked best.

Now, you could use one of these as a frog for longer-stemmed flowers if you just threw the dome, cut out the holes and designed a vase with a rim near the top that the frog's base could rest upon the rim.

Or, you could take off on this form for a toothbrush holder, kitchen utensil holder, clay tools holder, etc.

Or stretching the imagination even further, you might use it inside something to support a mixed media piece, make a face-mask for a head, a lantern window. The possibilities are limitless.

This is a tiny frog for a vase I found in a junk shop. It surely went atop some other base-like piece, but it would work anywhere with something to elevate it above the water bowl. I just like it for what it is.

I'm not a gardener, so here's what I do with test pansy vases.

I remembered. I had an odd little vase in my basement from the McCoy factory. I found it, dusted it off and began researching. You guessed it; it's a pansy vase.