Monday, December 2, 2013

Second Ceramics Course : More Containers and Bowls and Lids, too!

Continuing on my from my previous post with some of the bigger pieces from my "Get a Grip" handles-oriented ceramics course...  These are all made from white stoneware, which has been a delight to work with.

As before, please let me know which pieces, if any, you find appealing or amusing, or have any comments or suggestions for what to try next...

 #19 - One of the exercises in the class was to form two bowls (which don't require trimming) of the same diameter and height (as you see, I managed to get the height to match, but not the diameter).  While still soft, the bowls are set on strips of newspaper, so you can pull them together, press the walls to join, and form a simple handle by cutting and stretching a slot on the joined wall.  (Sorry my photo doesn't show the handle in action, but it does work fairly well.)

I was not very excited by this piece, but surprisingly my husband liked it, and commented on it that the colours were good, and it seemed pretty practical, too.  It could easily hold dips (e.g. salsa and sour cream), or candies, or other snacks.

We use Cone 10 glazes, and surprisingly, my notes say that I dipped in Copper Red (!) at the bottom, then Deep Blue inside and at the top.  I can't see how this is Copper Red, it looks more like a Clear or White, although there is a trace of a reddish smudge between the two bowls (barely visible in the bottom right photo).  I have found the glazing a bewildering process, and one of the most challenging parts of the learning so far.  You never seem to know what you are going to get.  And, despite my instructor's suggestion to stick to single glazes, I find that I need to experiment with layering different colours, and the result is quite unpredictable.

#20 -  Someone in our class decided to try joining 3 bowls together, and I liked the look of it, and the opportunity to try a hollow handle to add on top.  I was really pleased with how the handle turned out.  It is quite sturdy, and the whole piece seems quite functional, although almost too big and heavy to handle, especially if filled with dips or candies.  I have been surprised previously by how much the pieces shrink during firing, so I made it extra large, but then this one didn't seem to shrink!  (Thanks to my classmate Ayaka, she tried firing - at Cone 6 - a test piece of 10 x 10 cm, and it shrunk to about 9.5 x 9.5 cm.  Subsequently, she informs me that the Cone 10 firing shrunk it further to 9 x 9 cm, so about 10% shrinkage overall.)

Anyhow, my oversized candy bowl was dipped with Bamboo inside and on the rim, then dipped the outside in Matt Green, and the handle (which was mostly done with a brush) in Deep Blue.  I really like the bamboo and Matt Green combination.  I'm not so sure I like the contrast of the Deep Blue, but at least the colour is stunning.  What do you think?  What colour would you have picked for the handle?

 #21 - I love this bowl.  I am super pleased with the result.  It was one of my lessons in forming a hollow rim (I love the look and feel of that rim), and for some reason, I was discouraged (I seem to remember I was trying for a totally different shape, like a cylinder, and ended up with a bowl), and amused myself by adding turquoise slip to the still-wet bowl on the wheel, and twirling this lovely pattern.  My instructor was a bit concerned that I was adding wet slip to a wet bowl, apparently I should have waiting for the bowl to firm up to leather hard, before doing so.  But the result was okay.

I dipped the whole piece in the "revived" Celadon.  There is a whole story behind this glaze, which was lost on me, but my classmates who have been doing ceramics for years remember this older recipe for the Celadon, which was replaced by a newer Celadon, but people liked the older Celadon, so that one has been revised.  Anyhow, the combination of the Turquoise and Celadon is really lovely, in my opinion.  What do you think?  I'd try this combination again.

 #22 - I forgot what I was trying to make, with this one, but I do like the result.  It is Deep Blue inside.  Then Bamboo on the bottom, overlapped with Matt Green on top.  I guess I overlapped the Matt Green on the Deep Blue on the wide rim.  It is interesting that the Deep Blue appears to have crept up into the Matt Green, although I think what actually happened is that the Matt Green sank or disappeared into the Deep Blue.  The overlap on the outside is pretty pleasing, to me.  I don't know what this vessel will be used for, but we'll see.  It will find its destiny.  I stamped the inside bottom of this one, and the stamp survived nicely the glazing.  I think this is a winning technique, since it is often too difficult to get to the bottom while still soft enough (without warping the whole piece by trying to flip it over) and then the piece can be too dry to stamp by the following week.  I'm still learning how to balance between these too states.

#23 - This was one of my first attempts at a lidded container.  I think it turned out okay.  I guess I threw the lid as a bowl, flipped it over when leather hard, and then threw the knob on top of it.  The knob cracked off during the bisque firing, but my instructor, Jay, suggested that I glaze both pieces, and then they'd set them in the kiln together, where they would fuse.  He was right, they fused nicely, except that the knob is a little off-centered.  But better than a missing knob!

The piece was dipped in Matt Green at an angle, then the whole piece dipped in Deep Blue.  I like that combination, even though it is a bit strong.  The lid fits fairly well, although it is definitely not circular.   It has one orientation which fits better than the others.

#24 - I am really liking this little oatmeal bowl / soup bowl.  I experimented with liquid latex, creating little stars (which would be white/unglazed) at the bottom.  Then dipped the whole piece in Bamboo.  Then added another row of stars above (which would be Bamboo), then dipping the bottom of the bowl into Deep Blue.  Then the latex is peeled off before firing.

I learned a bit more about the glazes.  Look how the stars at the bottom have pretty much retained their shape, the glaze pooling around them, but not running over top.  The stars on the top seem to have melted/run.  I bet there would be a different effect also if I had sprayed only a thin layer of glaze.  Fascinating. 

I used pretty much the same technique in bowl #18 (see previous post), but the Deep Blue over Ash Yellow ran even more, leaving only smears behind, instead of stars.  I think I like the stars better!

Just after I took the photo in the top left, I realized that my 12 year old had discovered that the 3-bowl container #20 could double as a drum set.  I was amused, so have included this photo in the mosaic, even though he will be annoyed at me for doing so.  As his mom, I think I have the right.

 #25 - One of the benefits of glazing later in the course is that you get to see some initial results before you need to decide on glazes.  In this case, someone else had experimented with Deep Blue followed by Oatmeal, and I liked the result.  It is reminiscent of enamel cookware, which is why I selected it for this piece.

I don't know what to think of this little piece, it looks like a very small bathtub to me.  It was one of our class assignments, to create a "casserole dish" (not that I can appreciate what to do with that, especially such a miniature version of one).  It was thrown as a round bowl, and then the base cut on two sides while still fresh, the sides pushed in gently, and reattached to the base. Then the outside edge trimmed off.  All while the clay is soft.  Pretty cool technique.  The bowl also features a hollow rim, which gives the piece substance without become heavy.

 #26 - The pieces started as a bowl which failed.  It started to warp on the wheel, so I pulled it off, let it dry to leather hard, and then carved it into a lily-like flower.  It seemed to me about the right size for a candle holder, and sure enough, fit a tea light, but then I remembered this chocolate-scented candle, which is a bit taller than I would pick, but a perfect colour match!

This one was dipped in Carbon Trap Shino.

 #27 and #28 - When I asked my friend Lily, what ceramics could be useful for her, she mentioned a soap dish and matching tooth brush holder.  Actually, she asked for 2 tooth brush holders, which I made, but one of them went missing when I sent them for bisque firing, and never did show up again.  Mysterious.  It wasn't even that significant of a piece, so I was surprised.  If it was more impressive, I would have been flattered that someone wanted it.

Anyhow, I made them at the end of a day when I was too tired and my wrists hurt too much to throw more pieces.  They are just cut from a slab, and imprinted with a patterned roller.  I didn't do a great job at finishing them, because I ended up pressed for time, and was tired, and since I got hooked on the wheel, can't get myself excited about hand building any more.  So I'll offer them to Lily, but won't be disappointed if she doesn't find them useful.  I didn't even ask her what shape she wanted for her soap dish (there are many different kinds out there, and I'm not used to any of them, having used liquid hand soap for many years myself).

These were also dipped in the "revived" Celadon.  I think it is a very pleasant and natural colour, and the texture shows through quite well.

 #29 - This one is a lid I spent a lot of time trimming so it would fit on top of an almost spherical container.  I was really happy with the result, and the fit.  Then the container went missing, and all I found was the lid.  So I glazed it anyhow with Deep Blue.  But the container never did reappear, even though I looked for it many times.  I am particularly fond of spherical shapes, so was sad to lose this one.  Perhaps it's like socks in the laundry, it will resurface one day.  Hopefully I'll be there to find it.  I have the matching lid to prove that it's mine.  :-)

#30 - The inspiration for this bowl was my glass bowl shown on the top left.   It is a really practical size for chips or potato salad, or fruit salad...  Since the glass is textured on the outside (bottom), I decided to bring it to class, and try to form a bowl by pressing a slab overtop.  It turned out to be more complicated than I thought, but I learned how to roll a slab properly (had forgotten from my first course), how to use corn starch on the mold to prevent the clay from sticking, and also learned that as the clay dries, it shrinks and pulls away from the mold, so would be probably be more appropriate for the inside of the bowl.

Anyhow, I wasn't sure how much the pattern would show through, since I could barely see the indentation on the raw clay, and even the bisqued piece.  So I cut a fluted/scalloped rim, so at least the shape would be interesting, in case the texture wasn't.  I discovered this glaze combination from a classmate, who used Ash Yellow dipped in Deep Blue to a wonderful effect.  I decided to go with more reddish tones for my rose bowl, so tried Ash Yellow then Khaki.  The first time, it failed completely, and the Khaki wouldn't dry, even after waiting 20 minutes.  I suspect I hadn't stirred the glaze adequately.  Anyhow, I ended up washing the glaze off, and waiting for the following week to try again, this time successfully.

I really love the richness of this glaze combination, and the texture is beautifully accented.  The Khaki has pooled a bit in the inside bottom, and it is clear even on the outside that the Khaki is thicker or darker at the bottom of the bowl.  So I may try a similar combination some time, but spray on the top layer, to see what that does.

I would love to hear from you what your thoughts are, and if you are a friend or family member, please hint at me if you'd like to receive any of these for Christmas or other occasions.

I will post the final 3 pieces after Christmas, so I won't ruin the surprise.