Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Photographing Pottery in Natural Light - What a Difference a Day Makes

Today it snowed most of the day.  The natural lighting was gloomy.   I took advantage of  the gloom and did a re-shoot of some pots that were not getting the attention they deserved.

Last week I took photos on a sunny day.  The photos came out pretty bad.   I couldn't even fix them in Elements. 

Here are some before and afters photos that show just what a difference a day makes.

Shot on a sunny day in photo cube with filtered natural light

Re-shot in the late afternoon on a snowy day - No cube, just natural light
Large Sunflower Bowl

Sunny day -

Snow Day natural light
Tall Sunflower Mug

Looking out the studio door on our first real snow day of the season.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

DIY Bisque Texture Rollers for Pottery

Carved and Slip Trailed Texture Rollers

Texture rollers are a fast and fun way to add decorative details to your pottery creations.     

To make DIY texture rollers, I started out with small extruded tubes.  I let them dry to far leather hard so they wouldn't mis-shape with handling and also they would be perfect for carving.    I did dampen the surface with a sponge prior to applying  the slip trail decorations. 

This batch really wasn't planned out.  My carvings and slip trailing were all spontaneous and freehand.  I usually get my best results just being spontaneous and free to take risks with design.   
When slip trailing a stamp, the slip consistency is very important.  It can't be runny or the trail will flatten out and won't make a good impression when in use.

Creating your own original designs for decorating can be very satisfying.  Give it a try and have fun.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mark Arthur of Brookfield Pottery ~ We will miss you

Fish Vase by Mark Arthur,
Brookfield Pottery

Last week the Ceramic Community lost a wonderful Artist.   Many of you knew Mark from his series of pottery videos on YouTube.

Mark made all types of pottery.  Barrel fired terra sigillata was his specialty.  He did a lot of  experimentation with glaze and different firing techniques.  Mark was generous in sharing what he had learned.
Eventhough Mark was in the UK and I in the US, he was a wonderful friend.   Always supportive and gave straight forward advice.  I will miss him very much.   My heart goes out to Mark's wife Michelle and their family.

Here is a link to Mark's Blog, which further links to his YouTube Channel:  Brookfield Pottery

This is a song Mark wrote for his wife Michelle

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Clay Project for Kids - Making Pottery Spoons - Pottery Making Tip

Roslyn, my granddaughter/apprentice was in the studio today.  She was so excited to use the new North Star Slab Roller.

I demonstrated how to use it and asked if she needed any help, she confidently said.. No Grandma, I can do it all by myself.
She was impressed with the super roller.  She loves the steering wheel the best.

When making anything with slabs, it's a good idea to smooth out the canvas imprint on the clay.  The small yellow mud tools rib is a favorite.  It fits her hands well.  

For the first spoon she used a heart shaped cookie cutter. 
Next she used a templet to cut out the spoon handle.  She decided to use the MKM tool and add texture on the handle.
Next she scores and uses magic water for the attachment.  She applies gentle, but firm pressure to attach the spoon section to the handle.

She also made a round spoon for her Papa.  In this photo you can see her applying magic water to the scored areas.
On this spoon she added an additional decorative detail.  She rolled a marble size ball of clay, then flattened it into a button shape.  Attached with scoring and magic water.  
She then used a bisque stamp and added a cool spiral to the button attachment.
To add a bit more style and flare, she gently created a lift wave in the spoon handle.  
Here are the clay spoons we I made together today.

* UPDATE!!  Spoons have been glazed and fired.  We did have one spoon break (total bummer), but the rest turned out very cute!

Pottery Spoons made at DirtKicker Pottery


Monday, July 1, 2013

Wheel Thrown Slab Hump Mold Plates - Pottery Making Tip

What? Huh? Throwing slabs on the hump sounds really weird.  Here's what I have going on.
 I poured a plaster hump mold and used E-6000 to attach it to an old bat.   I know many potters really don't like using plaster for bats or hump molds, but if the plaster is mixed and poured right, it's awesome and safe to use.

I rolled a thicker slab and placed it on the hump mold.

Starting at the center, I used a sponge to compress the clay onto the mold.  

Next moved clay from the center and up from the side to form a foot ring.  No trimming necessary :) 

This plate isn't ideal for my stamped decorations, so I decided to have a little slip-trailing fun. 



Sunday, June 2, 2013

bisque prep before glazing

My procrastination for glazing has brought me to two huge kiln loads of bisque ware.  Over the years I have tried different ways of prepping bisque, but have settled into a routine that works well for me.
  1. Check each piece for imperfections
  2. Rinse in clean water and Use fine sandpaper/silicon carbide to wet-sand any rough or goober spots.  Then final rinse and dry.
  3. Apply resist
  4. Sieve glazes and check viscosity
  5. Separate pots into glaze color groups
  6. Have lots of good music and podcasts ready
  7. Pack a PB&J, so not tempted to skip lunch
  8. Turn off the ringer on the phone

A sneak peek of things to come :) 

Once in a great while I fumble and a piece will crash onto the concrete floor.   That means it's time for me to take a break.  

Glazing starts on Monday and will probably continue for a week, maybe more.  I figure this batch of bisque will fill at least 3 glaze kilns.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pottery Compost Crocks - "Part Two - Lids"

Counter Top Compost Crock

I made three crocks. The one above is the smallest of the three.

My last post left off with me trying to figuring out how to make a vented lid that would accommodate a charcoal filter.  Here's what I decided on....

I threw a lid with a flange that was pulled inward to secure a commercially made charcoal filter disc.

For the large crock I decided to go with an over the rim covered lid.  I made a custom sleeve to fit a small filter.
Using my biscuit cutters, I cut a doughnut shape. 
I formed it onto one of my hump molds to get the shape I needed. I left it there until it got soft leather hard.
I carved the vent holes, scored, applied magic water and attached the custom piece to the underside of the lid.

For a nice finished look and to assure a strong attachment, I sealed the seam with clay.
This is the finished custom filter sleeve for the flat lid.
After I attached the strap handle, I applied wax resist on the top side of the custom sleeve, so it would dry slow and hopefully not crack.

So that's about it.  It was a fun project and I learned a lot.  I'll post a photo once they are glazed and fired.

Thanks for reading and happy clay days :)

©copyright Cindy Gilliland.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Counter Top Compost Crock - "Part One"

Wheel Thrown Compost Crock
by DirtKicker Pottery

I took on the challenge to  make a wheel thrown Compost Crock because it sounded like a great way to stretch my throwing skills.   I didn't know much about composting crocks, so I did some research and found out they are not just a garbage can for banana peels.  A functional compost crock requires some features which turned out to be hurdles during the making process.

My goal was to make the crock with a fired size of 9-10" tall and 7-8" wide.  This would mean I would need to throw 11" tall and 8-9" wide.  Easy enough.... umm not really.  From the beginning I made a big mistake - I should not have used my soft porcelain blend clay.   Not only is porcelain expensive for this size piece, it's difficult to get the height needed. It would be best to use a clay with some grog to help make it easier to pull the crock walls taller and thinner.

I don't have much experience throwing larger pieces, so I thought I would start out with a 5lb lump which was too small. I only got about 8" high.   Then I moved on to 6lbs, which I got to 9" high.  Finally I threw 7.5lbs, which was the ticket for 11" tall and 8.5" wide. 
Most of my photos are with the 6lb lump.  By the time I got to the 7.5lb lump, I forgot about taking photos.
Centering 6-8lbs lumps wasn't bad.  I just started with centering the top portion of the clay and slowly cone centered the entire lump.
When opening I used the heel of my hand.

I left the bottom about 1/3" thick and compressed it well.

When pulling up the walls I kept the pulls as even as possible.  I left a good amount of clay at the rim for strength.  I kept the top fairly narrow until the final rib shaping.   As the walls got taller I slowed the speed of the wheel so I wouldn't lose center.

Final thrown crock
7.5lbs - 11" tall, 8.5" wide

I decided to design this crock to be used with a flanged lid on a straight rim.  Many people who use compost crocks use the biodegradable crock liners and it turns out that a lid gallery makes it really difficult to remove the full liners from the crock.

The lid is a whole other can of worms (pun intended).

Apparently the compost sweats inside the crock and condensation can form under the lid, so the lid needs ventilation holes and a sleeve to fit a carbon filter.  So that is the next hurdle that I will address.   

To be continued…

All designs, photos and content herein are owned by and ©copyright Cindy Gilliland.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Throwing lids off the hump - Trimming lids and throwing knobs

I've tried so many different techniques for making lids and knobs, but I always go back to the very first way I learned.  BTW, I love making lids, it's one of my favorite parts of making pottery.

Throwing lids off the hump

Off the hump, I throw little bowls to my specified measurement.   I always make them just a tad wider than I need, because I can always remove clay, but I can't put it back.

After I trim the lid, I attach some fresh clay and throw the knob.

I think that throwing allows me the best control in forming the final shape.
After the lid and knob are bone dry, I do my final fitting of the lid to the pot.   I rarely have a lid that doesn't fit well.  

Happy throwing :)

All designs, photos and content herein are owned by and ©copyright Cindy Gilliland.

Friday, March 22, 2013

morning in the studio - random

The morning sun was coming through so pretty into my studio, I took a few random photos.

I love it here.  My studio and pottery are such a blessing in my life. 

All designs and photos herein are owned by and ©Copyright Cindy Gilliland 2013.