Update on the Hand Built Bowl Project

As you may remember, I’ve been slowly working my way through a set of hand-built bowls and plates I made a little while back. I’d recommend looking at the previous posts for background – I’m not going to recapitulate the earlier steps here, but knowing what they were might make this post more interesting to you! Here they are, in order:

The Future Holds a Secret

Bowls and Plates – Update

All right, back to where we are now. First of all, I’ve applied underglaze to a couple more bowls. I now have two plates and a bowl left to do.

Two of them are my usual “more is more” design work; the third one, well, I poured some yellow underglaze into the bowl and swirled it around, thinking that I’d then add more elements. I saw it and liked it and said – enough.

All right. I decided to work on the outside of the bowls. To do so, I turned them all over.

You can clearly see their construction from this side. Remember, to make them, I laid strips of wet newspaper into a couple of commercially made bowls that I used as forms (the newspaper keeps the clay from sticking to the form and cracking as it dries). I then laid rough-cut clay slabs any old way into the form and pressed it all down to a uniform thickness, smoothing the exposed side (which became the inside of the bowls). But I did nothing to the outside – just let it dry as it was. You can see the slabs, their rough edges, and some newspaper crinkles. I like it.

Next, I chose some underglaze colors for the backgrounds of the white clay bowls. I decided to leave the terra-cotta bowls with their natural color. It’s hard to apply underglaze to get a smooth opaque covering when you brush it on, as I need to do here. Since I will be applying the “shiny” glaze later on in the process, I have to be careful – glaze shows up any light or spotty areas.

I applied three coats.

These bowls have no “foot” to them – I made them just to sit their bottoms right on the table. So, I will need to make sure I leave no underglaze on the bottoms, or a bowl may stick to the kiln shelf in firing. It’s not like glaze, which WILL DEFINITELY adhere an item, probably permanently, to the shelf; but the underglaze on the bottom has to be cleaned off before firing. I will show this process later on. For now, though, I wanted to make sure I got color down the side of the bowls as far as I could, so I painted underglaze over the edges on to the bottoms.

Now. Let’s remember who I am – Claudia McGill, no straight lines, things get messy. I know I need to compensate for the fact that my solid underglaze layer might not be as even as I like (I try, I try, but…alas. I know myself). So I had decided to spatter paint the outsides. I figured the total confusion of a lot of spatter will hide any unevenness in the solid color. Plus, I like to spatter.

Here you see the results of the whole group. I think I used every color I have.

And some close-ups.

It’s enough to make you want to go and spatter…everything, isn’t it?

All right. I let them dry overnight. Then, I needed to clean the bottom of each bowl.

I took a wet rag and set it on the table. I put the bowl on top of it and then rubbed it back and forth, rather vigorously. I held it flat, so that the part that would be touching the kiln shelf would be scrubbed well.

Then I rotated it just slightly to go bit up the side of the bowl. When I glaze, I will need to stop the glaze short of the bottom – it can run a bit. Now I will now where to stop.

I then examined the bottom and used a wet rag to wipe any stubborn areas. It’s ok if this much underglaze is left – it won’t stick to the shelf now.

At this point, I could put the glaze on now and save a firing . But, I’d like to fire the underglaze on and see how it comes out. If repairs or improvements are needed, I can make them. But once I put the glaze on top of the underglaze and fire it, it’s not as easy nor are results as predictable. I would rather go through the extra step to make sure.

So, I will work on the remaining items and hope to get a firing done pretty soon. More later.

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21 thoughts on “Update on the Hand Built Bowl Project

  1. Doc Kandinsky

    Wonderful pieces of artwork. I’d love to try that technique one day. Thanks for sharing Claudia

  2. Manja Mexi Movie

    Oooh, nobody does “more is more” like you do. 😀 Excellent spitter spattering! And this is some presentation line. Keep it handy! “Now. Let’s remember who I am – Claudia McGill, no straight lines, things get messy.”

  3. Claudia McGill Post author

    Hmmm. Hard to say. It’s the kind of thing that if you know how, it isn’t hard, but there are many steps, starting from the lump of clay! And so you have to learn a lot of things to be able to do this. I also think there is some judgement as well, as no two projects ever work the same way – clay fires differently one time to the next, the glazes change their behavior, etc. But if you learn the basics, you can make pretty much anything.

  4. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. Clay is a thing where there is a lot to learn but then there are a lot of options to mix and match in any project. Like anything else, practice!

  5. Claudia McGill Post author

    Keeping my fingers crossed. I have put them all in the kiln today to fire the underglazes. I don’t expect surprises in this stage, but…you never know.

  6. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. Details are the spice of life and if this clay work was a dish to eat, it would be mighty full of flavor. I do like to use those underglazes.

  7. Claudia McGill Post author

    Well, I can recommend it as a tremendous stress reliever plus- you just cannot go wrong with the technique. Grab those paints or cake frostings or inks and get going.

  8. Laura (PA Pict)

    I’m so enjoying following this series of posts. I know almost nothing about clay work so I’m learning a lot. I love the texture and “imperfections” of the exteriors of the bowls and, of course, I adore the spatter. I cannot wait to see how these turn out.

  9. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. I enjoy explaining the processes. I put the load into the kiln this AM. Now we’ll see if what I thought I did, I actually did. There is such an element of serendipity.

  10. Evelyn Flint

    All your bowls are very lovely – you’ve put so much work into them! I love the splattered colour on the outsides and the designs inside…

  11. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. Projects like this are just for fun. Certainly never going to be worth it to sell them as I do other things. But I knew that upfront, so it freed me to lavish all the attention I wanted to on them and just to enjoy. !!!

  12. Andrew McGill (@andrewmcgill)

    These are turning out really neat. I like the folds and textures of the bottoms. Complements the spatter well. And I’m quite taken by bowl no. 2 in the pictures above — different than its friends but mesmerizing!

  13. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. Spattering. Fun, relaxing, and always gives great results. I highly recommend it for all these reasons. I like a dash of it in pretty much any artwork.

  14. Jeanette Clawson

    I really need to clean my arting table all the way back to the whole clear surface and then I’m definitely going to do some spattering! I enjoy it, but I haven’t done it for a while, maybe since the move. It is definitely time. Thanks for the reminder.

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