Tag Archives: clay

Irregular in Shape Plate

I’ve made quite a few plates in my time. I use a handbuilding technique where I take an existing plate and use it as a form for my own plate.

What you do is grab some newspaper, tear it into strips, and lay it on the plate form (eating side is up, as it would be in use). Spray it to wet the paper. Then lay your slab of clay on to the plate and trim it a bit. Smooth the edges.

You can decorate the clay when it is wet, you can wait until it is greenware dry, or you can bisque fire the new plate and then decorate it. In this case I used stenciling with underglazes and scratching into the clay while the clay was still wet.

Why do you need the strips of paper? So that when the clay dries, and shrinks as it does so, it will not pull itself apart and crack trying to release itself from where it has stuck on to the plate form.

You peel the paper strips off if you like, from the bottom of the new plate, before it is fired, but you don’t have to – they will just burn off in the kiln.

After the new plate was bisque fired, I then dipped it into clear glaze and fired it again. Now, anything that a person might use for food needs to have a glaze. In the case of this plate, I would say a person could utilize it for bread or unpeeled fruit or the like. And don’t put it in the dishwasher or microwave.

But it won’t hold up to heavy use – it is earthenware, or low-fire, clay that I have used here. If you want to eat off a plate as a regular dish, you need to use stoneware clay and fire to a higher temperature to get a good vitrified surface.

Anyway, here is the plate. You may see that when I trimmed the plate as described above, my hand did its usual thing and went wild of the mark. Therefore this place is out of round. Oh well. We all have our quirks.

Clay plate 11-19 stencil view 13

November 2019. Low-fire clay, Velvet underglazes, clear glaze, fired at cone 06.

And some closer views of the decor.


Front and Back, We Are Very Dressed Up

Medium cylinder people in party dress. They look as if they want to break into song.

Terracotta clay, Velvet underglazes, fired at cone 06, January, 2020.

Ruby Lips Pothead

This is a vessel made with raku clay but fired in the electric kiln at cone 06. I don’t much like the color of the clay, but I didn’t know that until I had fired the item – it was a new clay to me at the time. So I did some stripes of brown and reddish-brown on the back, and gave him some red lips as a focal point. Now he’s better looking, I think.

Sort of like a pirate with chapped lips?

Velvet underglazes and clear glaze. Made in January 2020.

Tall Skinny Pothead

This fellow was made in January, 2020. About 10″ tall, terracotta clay, Velvet Jet Black underglaze on the exterior with a clear glaze over Jet Black underglaze in the interior, fired at cone 06. The glaze interacted with the clay and the underglaze to give the interior a dark blue cast, which I like.

Triangle-Glaze Face Tile

Here is a very clear example of a tile that has been dip-glazed with overlapping sections. You can see that I held the tile by the corner and, rotating it each time, dipped it so that the glazes covered each other in some areas and covered open territory at the same time. In this way a variety of colors result from the interactions of the glazes.

There are three glazes on this tile. I planned it so that the face features would not be intersected by a glaze line as I felt it would muddy up the impression the face makes as a whole.

Standard clay 112, fired at cone 6, various glazes, about 4″ x 4″.

Clay tile three triangle face @ 4 x 4 2-20

Cat Man, Sort Of

Here is a figurine I made in February 2020 in my studio clay class. It’s about 10″ tall.

Cat figurine 10 inches 2-20

Standard clay 112, fired to cone 6, various glazes and copper oxide wash.

It’s constructed in the usual slab rolled into a cylinder way – cat head added on top. It was then bisque fired.

Next, I covered the head only with a copper oxide wash. I meant to wash it off, leaving it only in the crevices, as is my usual habit, but I forgot, and I then waxed it (as well as the bottom) to form a resist because I planned to dip glaze it. As you know, the wax “resists” the glaze when I apply it – it runs right off – so that the head will not accept any glaze and stays copper.

So I did this wax bit and I dipped the figurine into one glaze color head first, another one from the bottom up, and poured two more selections over his mid-section. When I finished and was doing a gentle clean-up of stray glaze blobs on the cat’s head, the wax started flaking off.

Oops, I learned something here – the instructor told me that wax will not stick to the metal washes we use. (I’ve had success with waxing a metal-washed item before because I rinsed so much of it off when I seek to remove it except in the item’s crevices). Not the case here – there was too much copper and hence, the flakes.

Well, what was done was done. I sent the guy into the fire. You saw what came back. He looks great, I think. I like how glaze droplets (which stuck to the head where the wax peeled in the glazing process) interacted with the copper to give him shiny freckles, and how the copper migrated and left him with a spotted look to his face.

Cat figurine 10 inches head closeup 2-20

Also, here is a (blurry) closer view of the area near the front bottom of the piece. The lovely colors are caused by the overlayment and dripping of the several glazes I used during the firing process.

Cat figurine 10 inches glaze detail 2-20

Some More Tall Figurines

I showed you a glazed tall woman figurine I made at my studio class a little while ago. And I mentioned other ones I have made at home. They are quite different – I meticulously color them in patterns using underglazes, and they are made of terracotta clay, which fires at a lower temperature than the stoneware clay I use at the studio.

Enough said. Here are cousins of the glazed lady. These were made in January 2020, terracotta clay, Velvet underglazes, fired at cone 06, about 16″ tall.

First lady.

And the second lady. For some reason I don’t have a photo of the back.


Derived From Drop Tiles

You may remember a post a few days ago about drop tiles. In their creation, small coils and balls of clay are used. Sometimes you can remove them from the greenware (unfired dry clay) tile, but sometimes they are stuck firm and to remove them risks breaking the tile. Doesn’t matter, they don’t hurt anything to stay in place.

In my most recent work with this form, I was able to remove all the clay pieces in the greenware stage. From these tiles:

I got an assortment of clay blobs. I had them bisque fired and then I glazed them, turning them into clay “rocks”. Here they are.

When we are able to get back to the studio I need to remember these clay rocks. I love the look of them and I’d like to make a big collection.

Tall Glazed Figurine

Here is a tall woman figurine that I made in my studio clay class in February 2020. You’ve seen figures like this one before – tall women. But they have been decorated in colorful patterns using underglazes.

As I have said before, the studio has different materials and I use a different clay there as well. There is a need for uniformity in firing temps and in glazes because dozens of students are having their work fired, and so things need to be organized. That’s worked out nicely for me in forcing me to try some new things.

I created this lady, about 14″ tall, in my usual way via a cylinder shape, using Standard clay #112 fired at Cone 6.

She was bisqued and I put an iron oxide wash on her head and arms. I waxed these areas to form a resist and then I dip-glazed her, overlapping some colors. I also poured glaze over her middle section (there are only so many times you can dip an object in glaze before it becomes too thick to fire correctly and I wanted more than a couple of colors on her).

The natural color of the clay shows through in her bottom section. I am not sure exactly why, I think I did not stir whatever glaze I used in that section enough to  mix thing well. Sometimes things happen and we do not understand…but I like how it turned out, anyway.

Drop Tiles

In my studio clay class from fall and winter 2019-2020, we learned a technique  derived from the work of Natalie Blake. Our instructor showed us how.

First we rolled out coils and balls of clay and arranged them on a board.

Then, we dropped a slab of clay over them. The soft slab naturally created valleys and mountains depending on the clay pieces beneath them. We then emphasized those differences by pressing with our hands…or you could take the board and drop it on the floor a few more times (lots more fun).

Here’s what I mean. I don’t have any tiles in process. But here is the back of a fired tile done in this technique. You can see a couple of clay pieces still stuck to the back of the tile. It’s not always possible to get them off without breaking the fragile greenware (dried clay unfired) object and it doesn’t hurt anything for them to stay.

Clay tile detail from back drop tile 2-20

You can also see the impression of one blob I did remove.

Now here is the finished version of this tile. I dip glazed it for the coloring.

Drop Tile #1 2-20 5 x 7

Here are a couple more I did in the same method.

I created these tiles as explained above. Then I coated them with underglaze while still wet and carved lines in the contours. Then they were bisque fired. Then I splattered with with copper oxide wash and dip glazed them in a variety of colors, overlapping them.

That is how I achieved the richness of color. The chemicals in the glazes interact in so many ways. Here are closeups of the second tile.

I love the softness of the shapes of the tiles, and the unpredictability of the coloring, and how they combine in this method.