Monday, August 21, 2017

Again and Again but better

No matter how many times I tell my students that they just need to practice to improve .... it's never enough.  Practice throwing, glazing, handling their work and so on.... it's never enough.

I think I have made several thousand yarn bowls (at least). It is well loved and popular. Knitters never seem to run out. What is it? It has been a high demand piece and I have many outlets for it.  So every year when I start making them for the holidays I rethink some small piece of the equation. One year it was how I glazed them, another how I move them around and dry them.

Even this year, after all those bowls, I am making improvements to the piece and to the process. Do as I do AND as I say. Practice makes for improvement which leads to perfection. I will be on this road for a long long time, as clay can never be perfected.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Demo Pieces for Classes

When I teach, I like to be able to show a piece being made - typically by demonstrating it from scratch. Many times when you watch videos they are edited to make it look good, but not with all of the parts left in. I also like to be able to show the finished piece. Perhaps, after it has been bisque fired, and then show how I might glaze it. And finally I like to have the finished piece to show.  So much goes on in the process and takes so long between stages, I do my 'cooking show' magic by having the same piece in multiple stages. This takes some extra work, but I think it's worth it as a teaching technique.

Here is a large platter with a decorative rim. I demonstrated how to make this in the studio for students. They got to see how I formed it and made the special rim. Next I showed how to make the handles and a week or so later I glazed it during a class dedicated to glazing. I made this particular piece from a clay body that i normally do not use, so my glazes might look or behave a little differently. Out of the kiln..... beautiful color and shape. but I immediately heard some very disturbing pings. Clay and Glaze need to "fit" together, and I knew immediately that this clay did NOT like my glaze! It sheared in two pieces from the stress between the clay and the glaze. Complicated chemistry , but using my normal clay body corrects the problem. Watch the video.......

Here is another piece that was used as a glaze demo in class last week. 2 colors working in concert.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Practical Considerations

When I make a new piece of functional pottery like a bowl, a plate, a lamp or anything that gets made more than one time there are so may factors that come into play. Esthetics drives the making, and then the practicality follows.

I have been working on a noodle or rice bowl. I like the way it looks and enjoy the curiosity of the small holes at the upper rim that align with the two notches - to hold a set of chop sticks.

It takes many, many iterations of a piece to really make it sing. Professional potters like myself know exactly how that feels - it's like making that perfect easy over fried egg after the first 100. Ahhhhhhhh

Just when I think I have refined and tweaked the form and shape and glaze I hit a snafu with these noodle bowls.

My job doesn't end until it's in its new happy home and being enjoyed by it's family. These measure 6" at the rim x 3.5. I ship them in a box that is 8" x 6", but with the addition of the included chop sticks that won't work. The chop sticks would fit in the box alone at a diagonal - bit they don't travel alone. Time to retool and order new boxes. Hopefully the last iteration on a long list of changes..... until I find another improvement.