Sunday, February 23, 2014

How about some pottery for the pottery blog

Because of the lack of pottery photos you would think I don't ever set foot in my studio. That is not quite the case. I am in there occasionally. I've managed to spend a little time in there the past month and it has been just delightful for me. I love having a few days in a row that I can work. I think my ideal work week would be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Timing is an issue with pottery so I have a hard time working one day and then not going back for a few days. There are a bunch of steps to follow that must be done in order. Typically this is how it goes for wheelthrown pottery:
1. wedge up the clay, get it ready to be thrown
2. form the piece on the wheel
3. let it dry until it's dry enough to trim
4. trim
5. let it dry out completely
6. bisque fire
7. glaze
8. high fire
9. touch up as needed

The steps are pretty much the same for handbuilt ware but add in a little more drying time between rolling out the slabs and actually forming the piece. The time for each different step varies. Many times I've thrown some work or built some pieces and then have been unable to get back in time to trim before the pieces have gotten too dry. That's a little frustrating. I keep thinking that I've figured out how to be patient through the whole process and then I find evidence that I have not been patient enough.

 For instance, I experimented with some slab plates. I thought I let them dry long enough before I bisque fired them but I guess I didn't. A few of didn't make it through the firing. The next set of plates I made I let dry a lot longer. In fact, I haven't fired them yet. I plan on doing so this coming week.  I did glaze fire the plates that didn't break in the bisque fire and found out that the decoration I added before firing needed to be smoothed over a bit so it wouldn't be so sharp when glazed. Lesson learned and I think I'll have better plates the second time around.

 The top shelf is holding the plates for my second go around. The green plates below have sharpish bumps that I've smoothed out on the new set.

I loved the carvings on these vases and bowls. I actually love this stage the best. I'm so excited when I'm waiting for the pieces to dry out completely. I'm usually at my happiest at this point. Of course I totally love the finished product - except when I don't, which happens way too often. It's much easier for me to be critical of my work when it is finished than before I glaze it. Before I glaze the potential is there for something extraordinary. After the glaze firing it's much easier for me to decide if a piece is extraordinary or something less than that.

So there you have it. Work in progress and a chance for greatness. We'll just have to wait and see how these turn out.

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