THIS PAGE IS ABOUT MY CURRENT PASSION – CERAMICS.

In March 2016 I enrolled in a 6 week beginner wheel class and I have never looked back! I record my progress on this page mainly for my friend Cara who inspired this blog, but also for anyone who might be interested in pottery and the creative process.

I have been enjoying working with a deep red clay called Navajo again. In progress are little jars for my newest black drawing salve, and some mugs and vases. I haven’t been very productive because I’m trying to stretch my skill level and create new shapes, and that means lots of fails at the wheel this month. I really like this vase though, I hope I like it as much once it’s done!
These two mugs have fun round bottoms.

Who doesn’t like a nice round bottom!

These are ready for the bisque firing.

I hope I like this combination just as much as I do on the mug below.

The clay body makes a tremendous difference in how the glaze turns out, not to mention the contrast between the raw clay base and the glazed areas.

I will never know if I don’t try, and it’s still fun to experiment and perfect some shapes I enjoy.

Salve jars!

Work from May and June is finally starting to trickle out! The chrome green slip experiments yielded some nice texture and transparency on tea cups…

… and vases.

Thick chrome green slip under white glaze yielded a strange patina on this dragon bowl.

Here is the chrome green slip under white glaze on a stubby bottle shape,

and textured white slip under clear glaze on a cafe au lait bowl.

Here are some salve jars with my newest Tree Medicine, a black drawing salve made with activated charcoal, herbs from my garden, and healing essential oils.

I am working in a dark red clay called Navajo now. It has been very hot and I’ve been careful to let things dry very slowly so nothing cracks in process. I may continue some of the same experiments over the dark clay. The possibilities are limitless, and I’m trying to avoid over-thinking everything. It’s fun to be detached and just try new things. Sometimes a form you really like can be ruined by a poor choice of glaze but it’s worth it each time an unexpected treasure comes out of the kiln.

 

There’s a surface treatment I’ve been playing with since I started working in clay.  The horizontal grooves remind me of wood grain or tire tracks in the snow. Recently I had the idea to use beeswax as an inlay, here is a bowl I tried it on.

I’ve also been playing with chrome green slip, layering it under transparent turquoise or milky white glazes. This vase is one of my favorite accidents.

I will also be working with this combination more.

I’m currently working on vases, tea cups, coffee bowls, and salve jars for my newest Tree Medicine.

Some Salve jars drying.

Here is a coffee bowl waiting for its first firing.

And here is a finished one.

 

So much life death grief and healing has happened since I last posted. Here are some of the pieces I have been working on. New experiments using slips, stencils, and carving have yielded mixed results. The sample tiles were just not at all accurate in terms of colour! But as always the process of making these things is so much more than the object itself. And after I let go of my initial vision and expectations I can appreciate them. I want to apply this to my entire life!

The cup on the left has chrome green slip and white glaze, the middle one has white slip and one coat of turquoise glaze, and the one on the left has chrome green slip and 2 coats of turquoise glaze. 

The bowl on the left has black slip and one coat of white glaze, the one on the right has black slip and two coats of white glaze. I decided that the mossy green-grey of the chrome green/white combination might work well on this French butter dish. I recently started to make my own butter and it seemed like the next step would be to make a cool butter dish. This is a trend with me that started with making containers for my own fermented veg and wildcrafted herbal salves…

Butter dish in progress…

 

 

I am a big fan of bowls. For now, my skill level and a lingering shoulder injury keep me working small. I am experimenting on some tea bowls and soup bowls with hand drawn stencils and sgcraffito. I will be layering slips and glazes and I have no idea how this stuff will turn out. Sometimes the objects just don’t live up to my vision, but the joy is in the making. This is black slip over my stylized cloud stencils.

And this is sgraffito over top. Once this is fired I will glaze with a semi-opaque milky glaze…

Here is the chrome green slip test tile, it’s very unpredictable so the tea bowl below may be a complete fail… or (fingers crossed) a happy accident!

Tea bowl with full moon and clouds.

 

 

Is throwing clay like riding a bike? I’m not so sure. I had a long break in December, work took over, my body needed rest, and the studio closed for the Holidays. It feels like I’m going to need some time to get back up to speed. There’s this teapot I’d love to make but my skills are not there yet.

In my first few hours back I’ve made 8 tea cups, 2 vases and a bowl. Today I will trim and hopefully throw some more.

Meanwhile November’s creations are trickling in.

 

Here are some things that got fired over the past month that I have neglected to post.

 



 

My little tea pot finally got fired. I ended up choosing a very forgiving glaze combination that gives a smooth black with a satin finish and the chrysanthemum relief design is subtle but clearly visible. I learned so much during this project, and now I am experimenting with slips and underglazes on white clay for my next tea pot! Stay tuned for the curly willow handle I am going to craft.

And Voila! This is OK for my first try, but I am eager to make a better tea pot now.

It feels like I was being very productive with my first edition of Tree Medicine. It’s been fun selling them to friends and neighbours, and giving them as gifts.

Now I want to play, experiment and make messes!

 

 

I have this new inspiration that isn’t fully formed yet. Ultimately I will be working with white clay to realise my vision, but I decided to start experimenting with red clay because that’s what I’ve got and I can’t wait!

The basic concept is the cup or plant pot as a metaphor for our body (a vessel for our infinite spirit, where possibly thousands of lifetimes of information may be stored). 

At first I carved miniature faces which I pressed into freshly thrown clay, but that didn’t turn out the way I had imagined. That’s the plant pot in the far left of the image below. I then decided to carve faces into leather hard clay instead. That’s the teacup next to the plant pot.

I have a clear idea of how I would like to glaze these pieces when I will be using white clay… Not sure what I will do on the red yet.

Here are the glazed and fired pieces… took so looong for these to get fired, Xmas production is in full swing at the studio and the shelves are chock full of everyone’s precious work. Patience is key.

 

Change is in the air. I chose a clay called Navajo to make my first teapot.

Here it is  4 days later, after a full day of trimming and fitting the spout… so hard! I learned that it’s a good idea to make your lid a bit big so that you can trim it down to fit perfectly. I made three more and I will have to keep the teapot wet and well wrapped until all the components catch up to each other before I can fit the new lids. Clay shrinks up to 12% as it dries. It’s still a long way from being done, but it’s been a rewarding learning experience so far. I plan on making a handle out of curly willow.

I also made a few more salve jars. What will I do with all the extra lids you ask? Probably use them as glaze tests.