A Busy Week 2 at Pottery!

blog week 2 1

Well it was a busy week with all the mud monkeys bringing back their sample pieces…some of them had a wee accident on the way…but that is why we made so many!  My tip would be to wrap carefully in some loose newspaper, place on something soft and don’t crowd the packing box.

The first bisque kilns have been fired this week and next week we will be busy glazing our samples.  Just a bit of info for you…the bisque kiln fires to 1000 degrees celcius and then the timer holds that temperature for 15 minutes.  The kiln goes up 100 degrees and hour and the whole process takes about 48 hours.  This stage of firing removes the chemically bound water molecule in clay which means that your pieces will no longer be soluble in water.  Which is perfect for our next step…glazing!

When our pieces are glazed the components of a glaze start out in powder form and then are mixed up into water.  We call this ‘suspended’ in water.  The water/glaze mixture can then be dipped, painted or poured onto our samples.  The water soaks into the bisque and the glaze is left as a powder on the surface ready to be glaze fired.  If our pieces were not in  bisque state the water content in a glaze will disintegrate the clay.  It also makes our samples stronger to handle.

Some of the classes also made mono prints on clay this week…and they looked fantastic and I can’t wait to get them through to their final firing when all the colours will pop!  This technique also works really well on soft slabs of clay…then you can shape the coloured clay into all sorts of projects.  Have a look at how to make Sandi’s clever little 3 cornered mug…this would look great with a print on it!

There were some fabulous brave souls giving throwing a go in the advanced classes.  Keep practicing and the multitude of crazy instructions will start to make sense.  Making sure you have your clay in perfect condition before you sit down at the wheel is a must.  Getting centered properly is initially tricky but remember ‘you weigh more than the clay’…just find your ‘clay zen’ and then show the clay who’s boss!  Remember to keep breathing!!!When it comes time for turning your pots have a look at this Ben Carters trimming video to get a sense of how not to trim of too much clay.

Ben Carter

A reminder of where to find materials and tools for these classes.  Find stamps atMontarga Stamps, and a variety of clays tools and raw materials at Cobcraft, South St Pottery Supplies, and Bots Pots.  Second hand shops are great for lace and fabulous textures, also great for old fancy cookie cutters.  You will find that just about all the tools in your kitchen are useful…so have a good look through your drawers!  The Warehouse and 2$ shops are a great place to pick up all sorts of bits and pieces.  Mitre 10 and Bunnings have small fix it sheets of gib board…or ask a local builder doing eqc work…just make sure that you tape the edges to stop plaster dust from getting into you clay.

This week I managed to finish glazing my new pebble plates and cups and this week end I will sort out my studio and hunt things out ready for the Monster March Market at the Pallete Pavilion! (More about that next week)

20140221_165903Pebble plates and cups!

Right have a great weekend…hopefully it will dry out!


Tatyanna a.k.a.The Busy Finch

Welcome back to classes!

Super well done all my little mud monkeys…even though at times because of the weather it felt like we were slow cooking in an oven… it was great to meet and see everybody again for the year!

Everybody either made some lovely whale tales or pinch pots for testing out the glazes.  We have some new ones this year…so looking forward to seeing the results.  If you made some samples put them somewhere dry and warm to completely dry out and then bring them back to class carefully for their first fire.  Don’t worry too much about rough edges we will smooth them all off beautifully next week!  Button and Beads girls make sure you have a soft surface under your pieces to bring them to class on!

I have sad news about our clay supply this term.  Our supplier has been trying to get the formula correct for the past 6 months and unfortunately the new batch that we cracked into this week is not good and very difficult to work with.  So I have made the painful decision to send it back and get another type of clay from another supplier.  They will keep working on it so that hopefully next term we can get some more.  In the meantime I have ordered WDW from Nelson Clays.  This is a mix of an old clay we used to have called SC80 and Nelson White clay.  These two clays have the best of both worlds…strong for hand building and throwing and off white for glazing and colouring.  Best of all it should be fine with all our glazes!  One thing that you should be aware of is that the clay price has changed.  For 2.5kg it will now be $8…sorry this can’t be helped.  You can mix your old clay with the new.

The good news is that our new clay should be here for next week!

As promised I have included these video links for watching throwing and also an artist who is using a version of the mono print technique that we will try out next week.

Susan Faegin doing mono clay printing.

Susan Faegin mono printed cup.

Tim See  beginners throwing (please ignore his instructions about not kneading…our clay NEEDS to be!)

Tim See Steam Punk Pottery!

For those of you who would like to see something a little more impressive have a look at this guy who does production throwing from Ingleton Pottery in the U.K!

Traditional Jugs and Urns from Ingleton Pottery in the U.K

Have a great weekend and remember…patterns for mono printing and think ideas for your signature stamp!

cheers Tatyanna a.k.a The Busy Finch!

Summer School Glazing!

Well what a fantastic week!  Everybody arrived bright and early…or as early as a 10 o’clock start would allow us!  The samples were all ready and waiting and I had mixed up some base glazes all ready to go.  The base glazes were made up from various materials to give either a glossy clear, stoney matt, high alkaline crackle,  Chun or satin white finish.  The different bases meant that we could see what effect they had on our colouring oxides and stains.  Everybody came with an ideal colour pallet in their workbooks and added the corresponding oxides and stains (with fingers crossed) to come up with these colours.  Most oxides are all black in their raw state and it is only when they are heated to their finished temperature that they go their true colour.

I provided a suggested percentage of oxides/stains to mix from and this allowed us to see what an incremental addition made.  The hard part of glazing is that they all look much of a muchness when they are mixed, so all looked like varying shades of dusty grey.  We used copper carbonate, cobalt carbonate, manganese dioxide, iron oxide, nickel oxide, grey stain, red stain and yellow stain.  Stains are oxides secretly mixed and pre-fired so that they are more stable and predictable, they usually look like a pastel version of their finished colour.

Once all the samples were labeled and dipped they were all heated to 1240 degrees celsius in the kiln and left to cool down for a couple of days.  Then ‘hey presto’ the kiln is opened and the alchemy is revealed!

I think that the most interesting thing that this class teaches is the variation that other materials in a base glaze can make.  Even though you might add the same percentage of the same oxide to a glaze base they can all be vastly different.  Also that the texture of a glaze can be changed by the amount of oxide added.

Hopefully this has provided a taster for glazing and all the fabulous textures and colours that can be made…carry on the great work my little mud monkeys!!!

Summer School 2014: Pottery in the Sun!

Hi all!  Summer School at Risingholme started this week and what cracking weather we are having!  We started at 10am with some repetition throwing…making bowls.  It is amazing what you forget over the holidays and then pick up again just like that!  Our star student was definitely Eve…who hadn’t thrown on the wheel before and was churning out little T bowls like a champion!!! We had a picnic on the grass with home brought lunches and carried on making cylinders.  Ahhhh…yep cylinders…for all those who have tried throwing on the wheel…these are the nemesis of most potters!  How to make the clay go up straight with the wheel spinning wildly under your hands.  You have to be in supreme control and supremely tenacious!!!  But as you can see we had some wee cylinders come out…albeit dainty ones for very small people!  But Gwen bet most hands down with her fabulous tall Jug!  There are some beautiful large bowls as well 🙂

IMG_0715IMG_0720 IMG_0724 IMG_0725