Sunday, April 27

Stone bead

This is my hope bead from the other day. I rubbed some cobalt oxide mixed with a little gerstley borate into it. Some of these beads resemble stone a little, so I think I will try to accentuate this in the future.

Fixing a crack I hope

Here is an idea about how to fix a small crack in a bisque-fired pot. I usually don't fix a cracked pot, they get tossed into the trash or junk pot pile. I don't recommend it unless there is a very good reason to do so. My general idea is that if you have a bad pot, then you need to let go of it. It is said by experienced potters that you waste more time trying to fix a pot then by just making a new one and I believe this to be true. I also simply believe that it is good to emotionally be able to let go of something that didn't work instead of clinging to it like it is more important than it really is. HOWEVER, there is occasionally a good reason to try to fix something and this is one of those times. My lid for my large teapot I threw recently (see previous post of four pound teapot) developed a tiny hairline crack underneath. I really would like to have this pot for my jury if it comes out well and the crack is very, very tiny so I feel it is worth the try, given the amount of time invested in making the teapot. A note here though. I WOULD NEVER, NEVER try to fix something like a broken handle or other weight-bearing part and I don't recommend it and believe it is a little unethical to do so. So . . . after all that here is what I am trying.

Since the piece has already been bisque fired to fill the crack with just clay would probably result in the fix shrinking too much on drying and the crack remaining visible. So what I did was sand the area with fine paper which gave me some super-fine bisque dust. To this dust I added a little bit of my clay body which has vinegar in it. (Vinegar does something to open the pores or something of clay allowing you to fix or attach things when the clay is to dry to be able to do so. It actually works really well. I havn't tried this with bisque yet so we'll see). So now I have a paste made with bisque dust, clay and vinegar. After wiping the cracked area and brushing pure vinegar onto it I then forced the paste into the tiny crack and smoothed. I will do this one more time before glazing. I will post later with the results.

Thursday, April 24

Beads and Sticks

I was a little stressed out trying to make chopsticks and spoons. Having some trouble with my clay cracking, especially with the porcelain. The air was super dry from firing. So I switched to making beads which is kind of fun and relaxing. Can't wait to see them done. Speaking of done, my firing was not so hot the other day. But again I learned some things. I've got two more shots before my show, then I will have to call and bow out till the next jury. Man I try hard, but something better go right soon. I asked my husband Adam for a word to put on a bead and he thought hope was a good idea. I said, how about something that pertains to me please?

Sunday, April 20

Fire Day

This is one of my favorite teapots so far. It is pretty big. I think I used four pounds of clay throwing it. (See later post for Thursday June 26 for finished pot)

Piece from teacup set to go with pot.

Sugar bowl.


Triangle plate.

It has been almost a week since my last post, so while I don't have any new pots from the kiln yet to photograph, thought I would jot a quick line. I am firing today and did a lot of glaze combo tests. For the tests I glazed the inside of the pots with one glaze, the outside with another, and sometimes a third on the rim area. This is far more time consuming but also potentially far more interesting. It was amazingly stress free due to the fact that I remained very organized about the process. As I glazed I wrote the glazes used and in what order on a scrap of paper and stuck it in the cup. This saved a lot of confusion so I wasn't trying to remember what glaze I used on what pot already (some glazes look very similar in their unfired states). There will still be a considerable amount of detective work trying to match the pots to their respective scraps of paper when they come out of the kiln so I can record what glazes did what. I should have photos of some new pots hopefully in a couple of days. Keep my fingers crossed.

Monday, April 14

Tools-How to make a Giffin Grabber

I love tools. Here are some photos showing how I made a pot cushion and grip for my Giffin Grip (a tool used for holding the pot on center for trimming the bottom when the pot is leatherhard).

I just used the non-skid stuff you put under a carpet. The photos pretty much tell the story themselves. Draw circle as big as you would like the grabber to be. (I should have made mine bigger).

Cut circle.
Mark cutting areas. Make sure they are a little wider than the sliders.
And there you go. I was often putting stuff down like clay or batting or something to protect the rim and this gives the pots a little protection and holds them in place better.

Sunday, April 13

How to make a wavy rim

This technique may be obvious to most people, still I thought I would show you how I alter my rims lately. Once the clay is centered and opened I usually make one pull or two straight up leaving the rim thick-ish but also even (not bulbous at the top). I cut at this point because to do so when the pot is almost finished the walls are way to weak and will distort.

The cut-off wire I use for this is super thin. I have tried with a thicker wire but got a lot of drag. I simply mark the pot at six points around the rim. It actually takes me about about 2 seconds only pressing the wire down three times. I am not aiming for perfection in the marking, just a rudimentary guide to shoot for when cutting. You could make your marks wherever you wish.

Photo below shows the rim with the guide marks.

Next I take my wire and while the wheel is slowly spinning beginning at one of the marks (I usually start in the up position) I cut, attempting to reach my low point at the next mark, then begin coming up again reaching the high point at the next mark, continuing around until I reach my first mark in the up position again.

This leaves me with a wavy but sharp edged and squared off rim. To smooth I wet the rim and holding two fingers opposite each other gently press down on the angled edges until the rim has a nice pleasing roundness.
At this point I continue throwing, being careful to stop my pulls slightly below the rim so as not to loose my wavy edge. And voila'. A nice wavy rim with some visual interest and movement.
One point to make. When you make your marks, I think you have to make them in even numbers, otherwise when you get back to the beginning you will be in the wrong position (I start up, but with only five marks I would be down when I get back to the beginning, while six marks puts me in the up position. Good Luck!

Saturday, April 12

Seeing spots

This is a detail of the handle on the pot below. You can't really see in the photo, but the handle is covered with wax. I had trouble with the handles cracking when exposed to ANY air while the pot was drying, and remembered reading about waxing parts of pots to slow the drying. So far so good.

Monday, April 7


I am thrilled beyond thrilled with this new glaze combo. Better yet, I think it is going to be repeatable. It is very exciting when magic like this happens (magic as the result of endless testing of course).

Rice bowls. I poured slip into the interior of these bowls. This is a new method for me so we'll see how this works out.

More rice bowls with some sprigging. As I mentioned earlier, I will be making chopsticks to go with all of the rice bowls. I just love my work when it's in this stage. It's so fresh and lively. Off to Boston for the day for some fun and to pick up some white clay.

Thursday, April 3

Tiny Spoons

These are salt and pepper dishes on a box.

Bowl full of little spoons for the salt and pepper boxes.

Size perspective of spoons.

Beginnings of rice bowls. I intend to make my own chopsticks to go with the bowls.

Teapot with handwoven handle. Electric fired, 2008.