Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Another Look at the Platters

I will be away for the next couple of weeks, so dropped by the studio today just to move the 4 platters into the kiln shed to get bisque fired.  They look and feel awesome, even if I have to say so myself.  I tried to take photos in the natural light, to see the texture.  Ignore the mouldy spots and the white corn starch.
I'm really happy with how this one turned out, with the oakleaf hydrangea leaf imprints.  I think the texture around them makes the leaves stand out nicely.  I can't wait to see this one finished.  With the right glazing and/or staining, it could be pretty spectacular.

I love this octagonal shape.  At 2" deep, it should make a very nice platter for serving some sort of food.  Or could hold water and float flowers.  Again, with the right staining/glazing, the pattern could look pretty cool.

This deeper 3" hexagonal shape feels really great to hold.  I can't wait until this one is finished.

I'm also pleased with this shape, and even glad I didn't try to mess around with the sharp corners.  I can see how this one turns out, and try something different on the next one.  That's the cool thing about the styrofoam moulds, they were a lot of work to make, but now they can be used many times.  And based on the results so far, I think I have more experimenting to do, with different textures, rimmed or unrimmed, and maybe some decorative elements, and staining / glazing combinations.

When I return from my trip, I will have 3 weeks in November to finish up all my pieces, stain / glaze them, and work on anything else I can fit in (or not).  Then it will be Christmas break already.  This pottery season seems to have flown by too quickly.  But I have some sizeable pieces to show for it.  Not to mention a few hatching dragons.  I went to visit those today.  Here they are on the shelf, with my two African men looking like they are having a conversation in the background :
The process of creating is so satisfying.  I look forward to one day when I can devote more than one day per week to pottery.  Two days would be even more perfect.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Yet More Platters from Styrofoam Hump Moulds

I attended the open workshop today, and with Thanksgiving closure this weekend, and my trip to Shanghai after that, it may have been my last session before November.  So I decided to try to finish up and only start items I could finish in the single session.

So first I finished off the hexagonal platter from last time, adding an extruded rim to it :
I was very pleased with the result.  It is fairly difficult to lay down the rim in one long piece, so I ended up cutting the 6 segments and mitering the corners, but then I smoothed them out, so they look somewhere in between a continuous edge, and squared off corners.  I'm really happy with it.  So this completed my set of 4 platters from the 4 Styrofoam hump moulds that I made a few weeks ago.

I took a long and hard look at the triangular one from last time, and experimented with various decorative touches which I could add to the corners, but decided I liked it as is (as did others in the studio, who also seemed to think it was quite fine the way it was).

So that just left me enough time to make another platter, and use up all the extruded pieces I had left over (I barely made it, but I had enough for the feet).  This one, I wanted to do something different, so I pressed a set of oakleaf hydrangea leaves into the slab.  Then I wondered if they would look too bare, so I textured around them with the back of my sharpie :
I had to make a big enough pattern, to fully drape the styrofoam mould.  So that ended up being a lot of poking with my Sharpie, but I liked the effect, and I think it will hold stain or glaze really well.
I made a very beautiful hexagonal foot on it, but I forgot to take a photo before I flipped it over, so I'll need to go straight to the finished piece.  I decided this one will not have a rim (since I didn't have time to extrude more clay, and didn't want to mess around with rolling coils).  I think I like more of a rim, but then again, it is good to experiment with different variations.  So this is one of them.

Before peeling back the leaves :
And after :
I'm pretty pleased all around with these new moulds.  They were messy and time consuming to make, but they help create some really beautiful platters in a relatively short period of time.  I love all the possibilities for texturing them.  I would like to try one where I texture a slab (which will form the inside), drape it over the mould, and then texture the outside also.  That will be really fun.

I will also try a few different types of glazing.  For some I could use an oxide to highlight the texture, and then glaze in something light and translucent, like a Clear or Celadon glaze.  For others, I could experiment with using glazes (which I wipe off to reveal the texture, and then seal with a Clear or Celadon glaze.  For yet others, I would like to use a glaze like the Amber Celadon which naturally shows quite a bit of the texture.  I don't think I'll stain and leave any unglazed, though, since I think these are all pretty practical shapes, and I can imagine them holding food.  Fruit bowls, serving bowls...

Sunday, October 2, 2016

More Platters from Styrofoam Hump Moulds

Today was my first opportunity to go back to Shadbolt, to complete the three platters I had started using my new Styrofoam hump moulds.  The one I had finished previously, with both feet and extruded rim.  Today I added the rims on the final two.

Here is one of the platters before adding the rim:
...and after adding the extruded rim:
It is a slow process, but I think the rim really completes the platter.  I was pretty pleased with myself, operating the small extruder by myself (we usually work in pairs).  But then the extrusion was very narrow, so I was able to let it run all the way down to the floor, and then break it off.  For a larger piece, it needs to be guided, and would likely break off under its own weight.

Here is the other platter :
Somehow this one didn't look complete to me.  And the sharp angles of the rim looked too industrial compared to the decorative inside.  My friend Teena also thought so, and suggested I add some decorative flourishes on the corners.   I think she's right, but I decided to finish these up and start another piece, rather than agonize and spend time on this now.  So I've wrapped it in plastic so I can explore this option at next opportunity.

Here are the three finished items on the drying shelf (although I may still return to that triangular one) :

Here's the new platter which I started, and got the feet on.  I just need to add a rim next time :
This one is also stamped / textured inside (I find the stamping and rolling to be very therapeutic), and the mould was really deep (3"), so it was a challenge to wrap the slab of clay over the mould.  It took quite a bit of coaxing.  But I think the result will be pleasing.  I did a funky little double foot (although I see from the photo that it's not very straight!).  I can't wait to flip it over and look inside.  Hopefully Wednesday.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dragon Hatchling

The ceramic egg which appeared on my counter a few days ago, hatched yesterday revealing a baby dragon.  She has a very huge head, it is a wonder how she fit in that egg.  :-)  She will be a wonderful companion to my previous dragon hatchlings : this one, and this one.

Dragon Hatchling pottery sculpture by Lily L, in progress.

Dragon Hatchling ceramic / clay sculpture by Lily L, in progress.
So much fun.  I can't wait to finish her.  There are some great raku glazes which would work, but I don't think I'd take a chance carrying her around on tongs.  The soda firing is the next best thing, there is that crackly Cobra glaze (see #10 of this set) which I would love to use on the egg.  But I don't have plans to do another soda firing until March 2017!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Another Egg About to Hatch

I had the pleasure to pass through the Mall today, running errands (renewing my driver's license, etc), and this stone dragon sculpture caught my eye:
It walked around it several times, admiring it from all angles.  In the end, it wasn't the price tag which discouraged me (although $2,500 is a lot to consider), nor the fact that it was so heavy that I couldn't even pick it up, nor even the too-white alabaster horns, which didn't seem to me to fit with the soapstone sculpture.  In the end, I couldn't imagine where I would display such a huge sculpture (22" across).  So I walked away after admiring it, glad that I had at least taken a few photos.

It wasn't until later that I realized that the real reason I should not buy such a thing, is that it would be much more fun to build something like this of my own, out of clay.  I could make it a bit smaller, so I could find a place to display it.  And it would be heavy, but not too heavy to lift.

So I guess that dragon lurked in my subconscious mind, since I suddenly found myself with this large ceramic egg in my hand tonight. 
I suspect it will hatch in the next couple of days, and I suspect it will reveal a dragon inside.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Styrofoam Hump Moulds Weekend Workshop

I am exhausted, but had a wonderful weekend in a workshop with Linda Doherty, building Styrofoam hump moulds, and using them to build ceramic dishes / bowls / platters.

On Saturday, we made a huge pink mess cutting Styrofoam, first with a jigsaw, then using surform tools and sandpaper (and pieces of screen door), to form the moulds.  We were each allowed to make 3 moulds, in 1", 2" and 3" material.  I managed to work quickly and squeeze in a fourth one.

Here they are, at the end of day yesterday :
Hand made styrofoam hump moulds for clay platters / pottery.
You can see that the oval and triangular moulds are 1" thick, the octagonal one is 2" thick (I think that will make some nice serving / dinner plates), and the hexagonal one is 3" thick.  That will be a really deep bowl.

The two smaller moulds, I have covered in pantyhose / nylons, to protect the mould, and make it easier to pull out from inside the clay.  For the bigger ones, I will either need to find bigger pantyhose (or use the body section, not the leg), or just sprinkle with cornstarch when I use them.  Today I just sprinkled with cornstarch.

Today we rolled clay slabs, and tried out our hump moulds.  There would have been enough time for finishing two of them, but most of us started three, and didn't finish them all.  I was very happy to finish this serving platter, with a dragon scale / fish scale pattern to it :
Dragon scale serving dish created from my handmade styrofoam hump mould.
I'm very happy with the handles, which my friend Teena helped me make, as she could see I was panicking with only 10 minutes left in the class.  I hope the top one in the photo is not as off center as it appears in the photo. 

Here is the platter from the bottom :
Bottom of oval serving platter in clay / pottery.
I like the foot, I thick it looks pretty clean.  I didn't have time to cut out a divet on each side, so I may do so next time I'm at Shadbolt, if it's not too dry already.

The other two platters, I still need to add an extruded rim (or at least clean up the edge, if I decide not to add a rim).  Here they are from the back :
Ceramic serving dishes formed over styrofoam hump moulds, in progress.
I am really happy how those extruded feet worked out.  Very sharp looking, in my opinion, and it will make it easier to get one's hands underneath to lift it.

I don't have a photo of the inside/top, since I haven't flipped them over yet.  That will be on next visit.  But both will be textured inside, something like this :
Textured clay slab, many of the stamps my very own creation.
I can't wait until I can finish them.  And I look forward to trying out my very deep hexagonal mould, although I can see that this one may be quite hard to wrap the clay onto, if I start with a flat slab.  We'll see.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Masks on Display - At Home At Least

After cluttering our dining room table for too long, we finally hung the first 3 finished masks this weekend.

The two green men / leaf masks are hanging in our covered deck, where I can see them while eating breakfast, but they are under the protection of the overhang.  So they should rarely encounter any rain.  Wind may be a different story, but they are fairly heavy, so hopefully that should never be a problem.
Bob Kingsmill inspired pottery green man masks by Lily L.
And from a couple other angles :
Bob Kingsmill inspired pottery green man masks by Lily L.

Bob Kingsmill inspired pottery green man masks by Lily L.

The first dragon mask is in our family room, above the fireplace where I have my dragon collection :
Bob Kingsmill inspired pottery dragon mask by Lily L.
It looks surprisingly small on that wall.  We hung it to one side, to allow for the second mask to be hung beside it.  And I think there is lots of room for 2 more above those, in case I ever want to make more.  Just in case.