Tag Archives: clay

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.

Wrap Vessel with Stencil Decoration

Here is another tall vessel made using the stencil technique that I learned in my studio clay class in fall 2019 (look here for a vessel I made in the class).

I created this one at home. I rolled out a slab of terracotta clay and used Velvet underglazes and stencils to created the abstract decoration, applying them on to the wet slab.

I also spattered it with the underglazes and I did some sgrafitto work as well. I think the combination of techniques gives it a lively look.

When the clay had firmed up enough to handle, I formed it into a cylinder (this part is not new to me, as you know, because much of the work I make starts off in this way) and added a base and later on, some feet.

I sent it through one firing and then dipped it with a clear glaze, firing it again.

Here is the final result, from four different views:

And look here, the feet. I flattened balls of clay and then punched through them to make these feet. When I did the glaze, I waxed the feet and bottom of the vessel so that the glaze would not adhere. As you know, wax forms a resist (it burns away in the kiln) and it’s needed because glaze will glue an item to the kiln shelf – forever.

So the feet of the vessel retain the look of the unglazed clay. A little secret you have to look for, if you happen to view this item.

Clay vessel 11-19 terracotta stencil view 51

Clay vessel, terracotta clay, Velvet underglazes, clear glaze, fired at cone 06, November 2019.

Awkward Clay Mug

I made this mug in my clay studio class in October, 2019, and it took me about 10 minutes or less to form.

Roll out a slab of Standard clay #112, a sandy-color clay with small specks. Fold it into a cylinder, put a bottom on it, attach a handle.

Bisque fire it. Then double-dip glaze it. Fire it again at cone 6. Done.

I used opalescent and some other glaze (can’t remember, did not write it down!) and overlapped them to create three colors on this mug.

It is bottom-heavy and off-shaped. Somehow it still manages to appeal to me. I have decided to spend some time in making mugs in this next session of classes. This little guy is my inspiration to see what I can make of the form.

Potheads in Progress and Finished

I made a group of pothead vessels for my friend John G. He’s got some plans for them involving plants, and I know the potheads will be happy, because John has a green thumb.

Here they are in progress, just formed:

and finished – a couple of views.

And the others:

Clay figurine vessels John G 10-19 Group 2 view 13

Tower of Heads

I made this sculpture in August, 2019. It’s done in low-fire white clay fired at cone 06 and colored with Velvet underglazes and is about 14″ tall.

Here it is after the bisque firing.

And here it is, finished. Let’s twirl it.

And here are the four sides lined up together.

And some detail views.


A Vessel made in my studio clay class

Here is another vessel I made in my studio clay class at a local art center. It’s the first thing I worked on back in September.

Originally I wanted to make a coffee mug. It came out a little large, but if you were an enthusiastic hot beverage drinker, the more the better, right? It also had a loopy handle that I liked.

Well, in the bisque firing the handle fell off so it became a vase or something like that. All good, it didn’t really matter to me.

To create the vessel I rolled out a slab and poked it with some wooden dowels I had. Then I made it into a cylinder and added a bottom (and the ill-fated handle).

After the first firing, I dip glazed it to make three color areas. I waxed its bottom so that glaze would not adhere in that area. Then I used a gloss black and an opal glaze. I held the mug at an angle and dipped it, bottom first, into the first glaze, swished it, and then poured it out of the interior, letting it set up for a minute.

Then I rotated the vessel and, this time holding it with tongs, repeated the first step with the second glaze, overwashing an area of black glaze while covering all of the rest of the vessel.

Then the item went back through the kiln and emerged looking like this. I am showing you the three colors that emerged – black, opal, and a beautiful blue that resulted from the interaction of the first two colors. The first picture shows where the seam was made and where the handle was to go.

Here is the inside. You can really see the interaction of the colors here. You can also see that I poked out some indentations on the interior, as it just seemed to me that it might be something interesting.

Clay vase three tone 10-19 #44

Bonus – Small Dish

I showed you the Big Tall Thing I made in my recent studio clay class.

As you know, it was constructed from a large slab of clay, colored with underglazes by using stencils, rolled into a cylinder, and turned into a vessel. When I cut the shape for the vessel there was a small area left. What could I do with it? I liked the decoration of it, surely there was some use it could be put to. My teacher had a suggestion.

First, I used the 4″ tile cutter to create a square. Here is what happened next a description of the technique she showed me.

You take the tile (which is still flexible clay – this won’t work if the clay has stiffened so that the shape is rigid, but it also should not be fresh wet clay right from the bag – use your judgement) and set it on a piece of foam rubber, or a pillow. Something soft.

Then you take a piece of wood, or something rigid like that, smaller than the square. You need this piece to fit on top of the square with about 1″ or so space all around. I used a 2″ square small block of wood for my 4″ clay square.

Then, you take this block and center it, resting it lightly on the tile. Pounce it down on the tile, using some force. You take it down and up in one quick motion (not lifting it from the tile) – you don’t press it on the tile, you pounce it. Or bounce it it. I don’t know, but in any case, the tile sinks into the pillow, the portion covered by the wood block staying horizontal and the sides of the tile bending up.

Then you do it one more time, same motion, maybe a little harder. Carefully separate the wood block from the tile.

What you end up with is a shallow dish with raised sides, like this (note – this view is after the piece was glazed). You can see how the sides were forced up and the mark of the block.

Pounce dish 10-19 top view #2 view3

Here is a top view.

Pounce dish 10-19 top view #1 view4

I let the dish dry for about a week, and then it was bisque fired. Then I waxed the bottom to form a resist (as you know there cannot be glaze on the bottom of a piece or it will adhere to the kiln shelf when fired…very bad thing) and dipped it in a clear glaze. Here is a view of the bottom after the glaze firing:

Pounce dish 10-19 back view2

It’s a simple but very effective technique. Other people in the class made dishes using this technique, and not all of them were squares – some people made long rectangular items, for instance. You just choose your pouncing block according to the shape of your dish. I think you could do the same thing with a circular piece of clay and using a ball, say.

I liked the look of this and I will be using the technique again, I am sure.