Monthly Archives: January 2015

New Test Tiles

With all the travel lately, I don’t have a full project to report on.

However, I do have tiles for the next set of glazes tests that I think you guys will enjoy. My plan is to buy more glaze that looks like stoneware and it will need a lot of testing. Since I do a lot of carving, I really took my time making the tiles similar to what I would do on pots. IMG_2337IMG_2336

Even before they’re glazed, they’re coming in helpful as a quick reference of designs I can do on pots. I kind of wish I had made more tiles with carved out bits, but there’s always next time. In the meantime, I already used one on a pot from my previous post:


Alternative Treatment

While glazing my last set of orchid pots, which took FOR EVER, an idea popped into my head. There’s an easier way to get the same effect…

Here’s how I decorate them now: they’ve got to be carved ahead of time. First I paint the flowers and the whole inside with a bright color. Then I water down the glaze and with a thin brush fill in the carved lines. Next I wipe off the excess around the carved lines and finally coat the whole outside of the pot with clear glaze.
IMG_2319 IMG_2321

The results vary depending on how runny the glaze is:

The Alternative

As an alternative, I am trying mishima technique – inlaying color before the first firing and the only thing i’ll have to do afterwards is glaze the whole thing with clear. I did a little pot for a test and here’s the new process illustrated:

Step 1: I painted the areas where the carvings would go with wax resist.

Step 2: after the wax resist dried, I carved in the design with a wooden tool. You can tell that the wax resist is dry in this photo because it starts out whitish and becomes darker than when you apply it (see above) and more transparent.

Step 3: paint an underglaze into the carved areas. This takes a fraction of the time that the original design took because the underglaze doesn’t stick to the clay where the wax resist is on the clay surface. There are tiny drops here and there, but they’re easy enough to wipe off.

We’ll see how the color turns out, but so far so good and I like this new flower carving design.

Watercolor Plates

I got this idea on my flight back from my last business trip as well…  As the plane moved north, the type of clouds changed. They became more wispy. The lighting also changed and lit up the clouds in a lovely way. Here’s the gist…

Cloud and sky colors:

I want to imitate those color transitions on plates. It might look something like this (pardon the terrible image editing):

So far I made 4 plates and will try to re-create the washed out watercolor effect. I think it’ll take a layer of lines in underglaze and then another layer of lines in glaze. If you’ve done this before, please share your experience!

Cloud-Inspired Pots

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am having to travel for work. My first trip was last week, and after being away from he studio for a full 5 days, I was seeing pottery ideas everywhere. Here’s one. On the flight back, there were some cool things going on in the clouds.

Chunky Clouds for Ceramic Pods

The first idea was inspired by these clouds:

They’re so puffy and look like they got slammed together by wind.

Some time ago I found beautiful cup up and re-joined pottery by Jeff Campana and these clouds reminded me of it. I made pots on the wheel, cut them up, and re-connected them. One thing Jeff does beautifully is leave little gaps between the re-connected pot parts that fill in with glaze. I am going to try that too. Mary (she owns/runs my studio) says that our translucent glazes won’t fill the gaps, but it’s worth a shot.

This is the first one pot in this series:

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One thing I like about this version is that because the cuts are irregular, the lip doesn’t align back up perfectly. The pot looks kind of like a twisty garlic.I made another one and forgot to take a picture.

The day after I did that first pot I got back to the studio and realized that it would be better if the cuts went all the way down to the foot. Unfortunately the first pot was already dry, but the second one was not. I carved slits all the way down to the bottom.

For the 3rd pot, I went all the way, cut it apart, and put it back together:

Here they are all at once:

Photo Jan 11, 7 39 44 PM

Something I noticed after completing all these is that the most taken apart pot – the cup – looks the most intact. The others look less natural. I think that’s due to the sections of the first 2 pots not fitting as well as the sections of the cup…

Which one do you like best and why? Any ideas to take the cloud concept further?

A Bunch of Stuff Fired

I came back from my business trip on Friday, went to the studio on Saturday, and…. SO MANY THINGS GOT GLAZE FIRED! Today’s post is just going to be a bunch of pictures of the newly fired stuff – i’m too excited about it.

Cut & Modified Pots

I love how all of them turned out. That last one was supposed to be a blue/green color, but I didn’t realize that I got the wrong brand of glaze (Duncan Peacock vs. Amaco Peacock) and it was a big surprise. It looks pretty sweet, though, if i do say so myself.


Fish Necklace Holder Version 2

It turned out much better than Version 1. I can still think of a couple of improvements to this design, but it’s more or less what I was going for.

Fish Design Improvements:

  1. The way I make the fish scales looks like fish scales but the texture is backwards. The tips of scales should stick out, but on my fish the places where the scales connect is what sticks out. I’ll be working on that…
  2. The water. I will have to do a better job of smoothing out the surface b/c you can still see the outlines of my fish sketch.

One thing that I really enjoy about this piece is the variety of textures on it. The Copper Adventurine (sparkly brown) is matte, the water is very smooth, and fish have the texture of scales, but are covered in clear water glaze.


Lace Pots

I made one more bowl and a Christmas ornament. The bowl turned out exactly how I wanted it, but ornament was WAY too work-intensive and very hard to join and glaze, so I won’t be doing any more.


Other Pieces

IMG_2266This mug lid is per request of a friend of my parents. The friend requested a lid to steep tea in cups. It had to have a comfortable handle that you can get a good grip on and not drop. That loop accommodates a finger comfortably and the matte glaze will make it less slippery than a translucent glaze. Hopefully they will like it.


The dish above was an experiment. I tried to decorate it with Iron Oxide, then realized that Iron Oxide burns out, painted it with Fireluster glaze instead, and you can see there’s incomplete coverage where the black ends. I do still like the idea of the irregular carved out pattern. That looks and feels very pleasant, imo. So it seems that I will have to try this plate again.


This footed bowl turned out kind of awesome because of the interplay of the faded iron oxide pattern and the green glaze. But the glaze is a little too bright and looks overwhelming to me. Maybe a darker or less aqua shade of green would have worked better… Something is off about it. Maybe the Iron Oxide has a fall feeling to it and the bright green is more summer, so it’s confusing… Maybe there are too many competing lines/colors… Thoughts?

Designs Tests

If you’ve been following my blog, you will have seen that I did a lot of test tiles when I bought all my glazes. In a similar vein, lately I have been doing test pots (see the last post on lanterns) and and test decoration tiles.

There’s number of benefits to doing decoration test tiles:

  • Not ruining otherwise good pots with a design that doesn’t fit
  • Finding out how much effort each design is before putting it on a pot.
  • Having a few designs up your sleeve that you can use once later on.

Since I spend a ton of time in the studio now, I don’t mind “wasting” pieces to test something. Like for my lanterns, I made several that didn’t work and got immediately recycled. However, once I’ve got the pot shape figured out and want to try out a carving or painting, it’s smarter to do decoration samples separate from the pot. If you have pieces of a failed pot that you can use for a carving sample, great, but if you don’t, just roll out a slab and use it instead.

When I was doing those lanterns, and finally got the overall shape down, I was not going to waste it!

Here are the carving ideas that I tried:

Photo Dec 28, 6 40 04 PM

This is the one I ended up using – it’s pretty easy to cut out, goes well with the overall shape, and will let a lot of light out.

Photo Dec 28, 6 40 12 PM

I like this one, but it would let no light through. No good for a lantern, but I will definitely use it for something else later.

Photo Dec 28, 6 40 08 PM

I like this design too, but you can see how badly it crumbled. I think that’s because the cuts are not parallel to each other and cutting one petal put pressure on the connection between others. By comparison, the first design also has very thin connections, but it didn’t crumble at all because all the carved pieces are parallel to each other. .

Now that I am writing this up, I think I should have kept the tests and glazed them for later reference… Maybe next time I’m in the studio…


And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I have been taking yoga classes with the same teacher for about 3 years and decided to make something for him. A lantern, specifically, because he burns candles during class. I went through a couple of iterations to get a pieces that I like (so far). It isn’t fired yet, so we’ll see if more iterations will be needed when it is fired/glazed.

Original idea – wheel thrown, carved

I made a couple of jars, didn’t care for the shape, couldn’t think of anything non-cliche to carve, and moved on.

Iteration #1 – carved and bent

The idea was to throw a cylinder, cut slits in it, and bow it out. I tried it on 3 lanterns of variable pliability. They all collapsed and just look generally crappy. The sections between cuts were too wide and heavy-looking.

IMG_2166[1] IMG_2167[1]

Iteration #2 – cut, re-connected, carved

The key to not having everything crack like crazy was to cut the slits all the way to the top and re-connect the rim. What this allowed me to do, also, is to make a rim that goes outward and I brought it back in by adding a wavy pattern to it. The slits between sections were still too thick, so I carved out some lotus flowers in 3 of 6 sections.
IMG_2192[1] IMG_2190[1]

The piece isn’t even fired yet, so I can’t say for sure if it’s really what I want, but it’s at least a solid Version 1.