Monthly Archives: February 2015

Spray Painting Sky Plates

You may recall and Idea I had about sky-inspired plates a few weeks ago (if you don’t, here’s the link). I made the plates as soon as I got back from that trip, but didn’t get around to painting them for a long time. Partly because it required a spray gun, which I never used before and didn’t want to screw it up, and partly because I didn’t have the right underglaze colors. All we have in the studio are some leftover fuchsia and “flesh” colors – not exactly evocative of an evening sky, am I right?

Finally I picked up a few bottles of underglaze last week for those candy dishes and there was no excuse not to try the plates.

Photo Feb 21, 3 04 20 PM

I did the first plate per plan – just a gradient. As I was about to move on to the next plate, the spray gun started sputtering. It took a while to figure out what was going wrong and by the time I did, the plate was covered in splatters. Since things were already not going according to plan, it was experiment time….

Photo Feb 21, 3 04 41 PM

For this plate, I cut out cloud-shaped bits of newspaper and sprayed the pate, leaving cloud-shaped areas unsprayed. It turned out to be a fun thing to do, so even after the spray gun problems were resolved, I continued down that path and did the remaining 2 plates like that:

Photo Feb 21, 3 04 30 PM  Photo Feb 21, 3 04 57 PMWhen Mary, the studio owner, saw these the next day, she was horrified. Apparently I should have done the spray painting outside while wearing a mask. Okay, next time…

Refining Photos

As my pots get nicer, I am getting more picky with now my photos of them look. I take all the pics you see on this blog with my phone because it’s convenient and works well enough so far. For x-mas my brother got me a basic light setup, so if you noticed that my pics are better lit than before – that’s why. Another thing I try to be careful about is maintaining a camera angle that best shows off the true shape of a pot (especially with the orchid pots this is a challenge).

Over the weekend, kind of on a whim, I bought a black backdrop paper. To be completely honest, I want a gray one, but haven’t found it yet. But today’s post is about how the pots look on black vs. white background. Please let me know what your thoughts are, if disagree with my assessment below, or have some tips for how I can improve my pics.

Photo Samples

The Orchid pots definitely benefit from the darker background. They don’t fade into the black background on the edges, so you can see the shape better. Colors are about the same on both.

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The mug works much better with a white background because the gray isn’t washed out.The darker glaze color is more accurate.

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This pot might be the one that really needs the gray background. For now, white has to be the winner because the white parts don’t look yellow against white like they do on the black background (how did that even happen!?) and you can actually see the foot.

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On this dark little pot, white is a clear winner. On black the camera self-adjusts to create completely false colors.

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And last but not least, a lace pot. Both black and white look good. On the white you can see more dramatic shadows and on the black the detail of the coils stands out a little more.

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Candy Dish Update

Though I am out of town for work again, I made such good progress on my candy dish project in the last week, that I have some pics to share with you today.

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These aren’t even completely dry yet, but I hope that they dry well and make it through the firing. They took several hours to make, carve, and paint, each.

The insert piece is my pride and joy at the moment because I ruined the first pot that I tried to modify with that insert and went through 3 inserts on this actual pot before I got one that fit well. Now it looks exactly how I want it to look. A couple of take-aways on that insert:

  1. The pot needs to have a V-shaped cut out. Simply making a single cut and folding out the sides doesn’t create enough space for an insert that looks nice.
  2. The insert comes out much better when cut with an xacto knife than with a pin tool.

Pebble Vases

A couple of weekends ago I was teaching one of my students to make vases and somehow got into trying to make a vase that is as squatty as possible. It turned out to be surprisingly challenging and all my attempts collapsed in on themselves. The first problem was that by the time I pulled out the bottom as wide as i wanted, there wasn’t enough clay on the top to close up the vase. The second was that the clay on the top gets very thin and soft, so if I could pull it up and in, it would collapse.

At last, with a small piece of clay I was able to pull it off! ….and then left it out overnight and it over-dried to the point where I couldn’t trim it. Doh!

I decided to improvise and use a rasp and sand paper to file down the base. The result was beyond my expectations, in a good way. The whole vase turned out like a smooth river pebble. I made 3 more flat pebble vases of varying sizes, and decorated them by dabbing on underglaze with a sponge and sanding most of it away. I also painted the necks with  the same undergalze.

They’re not fired yet, but here’s what they look like so far:

I’m thinking to glaze them a light gray so that the underglaze color shows through, but I am open to suggestions too, so please let me know what you think I should do.

Art Swap


If you’re a regular here, you probably noticed that I didn’t post at all last week. Here’s why: my work travel takes me away for a week at a time and I just don’t get enough studio time to try new projects to share with y’all. This posting-every-other-week thing may last until I don’t travel any more (April).

The Real Deal

With that out of the way, on to the next project!

I am doing an art swap about which I am supper excited. A wife of a coworker is a very talented painter and is making a set of 3 paintings for me in exchange for 2 candy dishes. The candy dish theme was supposed to be inspired by Adventure Time, Candy Kingdom. Also, her and her husband’s colors are orange and green. So… bright colors, candy-like detail.. game on!

I decided to imitate Kristen Kieffer‘s style, especially her spring collection. I took inspiration from what looks like bright slip/underglaze designs and slip trailing. I guess I don’t actually know how she makes her stuff.

Before making the complete set I made a prototype. It’s a little rough, especially on the painting edges, but anyway, the pictures (same pot but the white ones are post-firing):

For the real thing I will be more careful when applying the painted-on design and I might make a 3-section piece and insert parts of another pot into it. The customer also requested cut-outs, so that’ll get incorporated as well, though I haven’t decided what I will cut out and where. Any suggestions?