Category Archives: Clay

More Stories in Clay

Every clay tile I make tells a story, though I don’t have one in mind when I start out. I just make the tiles. What they say is up to them. And to you.

Yes, sounds very airy, but it’s true. No matter what I am thinking as I make the image, once it gets out into the world, it has its own reality. Each viewer decides what to see in it. I like that.

Here are some more tiles made in fall 2018. Commercially made terracotta tiles, colored with Velvet underglazes, fired at cone 06.

Bird lady.
Lingering fingers.
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I Said I Would Renovate and I Did

Remember those bowls a few days ago that I told you I had decided to glaze? All right, they have all come from the kiln and I will show them to you.

I am reasonably happy with the results. Now, this look is not my first choice, but as you may also remember, I made bowls, and without glaze, they cannot really do their job as bowls. They need glaze to be food-safe. I have decided I want to sell them, and so, I glazed them.

If I don’t want to use glaze, I need to remember to make items that are non-functional. I may want to write that down.

All right. You remember the bowls in the stage of having had glaze applied but not fired:

I fired them at Cone 06, the recommended temperature for the glaze. I had applied the glaze in 2 thin coats – I have a tendency to overdo the glaze and that causes problems with pooling and clouding. After the first firing, some of them looked great but some had areas where more glaze was needed. I applied more to those bowls and put them through again. My goodness, what some of these poor bowls have gone through!

Now we are done. Let me show you the previous versions with the new versions:

As you can see, some bowls look very similar and others are greatly changed. I noticed that the bright orange color in a couple of bowls had been completely altered by the addition of the glaze. The overall color scheme in all of the items is darkened and fine details are less visible. Now, I am not very skilled or familiar with glazing, so I think with future items, I would need to think more about the colors I use and in what combinations.

And no matter what, I never like the shiny reflectiveness of glaze. My eyes just do not take in the details of a shiny item as well.

I will also show you the outside surface of a couple of bowls. As you might remember, I spatter painted over a color on the white clay bowls and I spatter painted over the natural color of the terracotta clay on the others. These photos show you the before:

Here is a bit of the after – and please excuse the blurriness – I hope you can get the idea:

I do like the look. I’ve done lots of spattering with glaze in the past and it has never failed me. I need to write this down, too – spattering is a pleasing look with glaze.

All right. That’s the end of the renovation. I will say these bowls do look better in person than in a photo. I think they will find new homes and go on to happy times. And they will do their jobs properly and safely. That is what is important, after all.

Creatures Caught in the Act

I made a lot of clay tiles back in the fall of 2018. Now I’m getting around to showing them to you, a few at a time. Here are a couple of creatures.

Commercially-made terracotta tiles, colored with Velvet underglazes, fired at cone 06.

Eating lunch.
Snarling. Though without a lot of enthusiasm for it.

Renovate It, I Say

Some time ago, back in spring of 2017, in fact, I made a whole group of largish handbuilt clay bowls. I colored them according to my usual techniques of using Velvet underglazes and scratching into the layers. They were quite nice, but – you know, they are bowls, and yet they are not functional. Here are a couple of the bowls:

Bowl #3
Bowl #7

Since I didn’t glaze them, they were not food-safe. They could not be cleaned well enough to prevent bacteria from growing in the porous surfaces. Now you know why foodware is glazed, as are tiles for walls and floors. They need to be washable.

Well, the bowls sat around for a long while; some I gave away, and finally, I’ve come to the end of the road with the ones that are left – I’d like to sell them and move on. But I can’t do that because, even if I warn the purchaser they can’t be used, well, who’s gong to remember that kind of thing for any length of time, or – if the bowl changes owners…Because a bowl is meant to be used – it’s not a sculpture.

Bowl #2

So I decided to glaze them. Now, I am pretty sure I will not like the look of them as well as I do now, but – they are stuck in limbo and I like that even less. I got out my glaze and coated the whole group of them.

Then I loaded the kiln.

The lovely green color will turn clear in the firing. Wait and see!

You may notice I also have a large vase in there. It’s this item, below. Once again, it won’t hold water unless it is glazed.

I had a little bit more room so I added a tile, and I will re-fire a dish that didn’t do well in its first glaze firing.

I’m not great at glazing and I don’t love the look, as I said – it changes the colors and I also don’t like the reflectiveness of the surfaces. Well, if things don’t go so well, I won’t be heartbroken, will I? I’ll get that kiln going in the next day or so and see what happens.