SOUP mugs away!

Wow, what a massive week!

Everybody has been working incredibly hard making their tin can SOUP mugs…you guys rock!

We have been using clay slabs, patterns and cylinders to make the cups with.

This is an easy peasy project to have a go at.  What you will need is some clay, a cylinder to wrap the clay around, ex computer print paper, some news print, and textures and stamps that you might have and a good graphic idea to use for your label.  We had quite a few student who did some research on soup and found the famous Cambell’s Soup images of Andy Warhol.  There were some interesting interpretations that include the text ‘John Cambell’s Media Soup’, ‘Netties Soup’ and ‘Warhols Soup’…all featuring the same layout but different images, colours and text .  They are very clever and unique!

We also have some lovely vegetable soups that feature tomatoes, sweet peas, tiny miso cups, and some very poplar trees!  There are some soups for non vegetarians such as Moo Stoo, Lobster Bisque and even Possum!  All the cups will look amazing when they are finished.  When they are dry enough I will pop some iron oxide onto the rim and rivet holes and then bisque them.  The iron oxide will provide colour that will (fingers crossed) give a rusty edge to the mock Tin Can SOUP mugs when we glaze them.

Next week we will be having a reprieve from hand building and printing with some throwing for the beginner classes.  So if this is you make sure that you bring along a towel, ice-cream container with lid, and a board for this lesson.  Also I always recommend looking at throwing videos before you get to the wheel so that what I am showing and telling you to do is not quite so alien.  Here are a couple of potters who I enjoy watching for the ABC’s of wheel throwing.

simon leach photograph

Simon Leach

Tim See

The more times you can watch these the more you will ‘get’ it!

In the advanced classes there have been some amazing trowing sessions with students really beginning to make well shaped and sized bowls.  What happens is that the more you do it the better your hands remember the basics all by themselves and that leaves the rest of your brain able to focus on what shape and size vessel you want.  Well done!

I leave you with some images from this very busy week and I look forward to seeing you next week for more muddy fun!

Have  great long weekend!


Tatyanna a.k.a The Busy Finch


Glazing, Printing and Making!

Hello everybody!

This week we were all busy glazing our fish tail samples and having a wee go at mark making on the clay in preparation for our SOUP can mugs.

One of the things that I noticed this week, with all the new students that we have, is how tricky it is to learn how to knead clay.   Kneading is an important step in making any project as it helps to eliminate any air bubbles (which may cause your pot to explode in the kiln later on!) and also homogenizes the water content in the clay.  I am often asked if you can knead clay and save it for next week.  Unfortunately this doesn’t work as when clay sits for a while the heavy clay particles force the water particles out to the edges of a lump of clay so you end up with hard clay in the middle and sticky wet clay on the outside.  The trick is to always knead your clay when you are ready to use it.  I also found this good video on You Tube so that you can have a good watch in your own time.

Speaking of heavy particles…this is something we notice with the glazes too.  At the beginning of every term when we begin glazing the glaze buckets have been sitting for a number of weeks.  What happens is that all the heavy glaze materials sink to the bottom of the bucket.  It is always a good idea to give them a really good stir so that you don’t end up with a watery layer on your pot instead of a nice luscious glaze.  This settling out happens quite quickly so make sure that you stir well just before dipping.  One of the really important things to remember with glazes is that they are always poisonous so please, please be careful to keep all your work surfaces and tools clean and put buckets away tidy then wash your hands thoroughly after you have finished.

We had a wee go at putting colour and texture onto the clay using stamps, stencils and slip trailed transfers.  One of my favorite potters Cathy Terepoki not only teaches classes using a variety of print techniques but produces beautiful pots and jewellery adorned with her careful decorations.  Sarah from the Print Pattern Project has written up some very good notes from one of Cathy’s workshops which I highly recommend having a wee look at.

Cathy Terepocki

So next week is SOUP mug week!  Bring along your SOUP design.  This means we are looking for the name of your soup and also an image that can go onto the label.  If you have letter stamps and textures pop these into your pottery bag too.

I leave you with some pics from this weeks muddy fun!

Have a great weekend and I look forward to working with you next week!


Tatyanna a.k.a The Busy Finch 🙂



Welcome Back to Term 2 Pottery!

Hello all you little Mud Monkeys!

Welcome back to term 2 at Risingholme Pottery…if you are new it is great to meet you!

This term because we are using two different clays from different suppliers we have to wedge the clay.  This means to cut and stack it multiple times so that the clays are homogenized into one clay.  We are using SC80 from Nelson Clays and Primo White Stoneware.  So for this term the clay will be $6.90 pr 2.5kg but will need to be wedged when you purchase it.  Our kilns are firing to 1240 degrees Celsius with a 45 minute soak at top temperature.

Enough of the technical information…we have over 90 students this term…utter madness!!! So it will be very important to keep the benches well washed down after your class has packed up and as we won’t have room to keep any stray pots you will have to remember to bring a board to take your goodies home on each week.  I recommend an A3 sized piece of gib with some tape on the edges to stop the plaster from getting into the clay.  Any stable platform that is porous will do.  A towel can be used for cleaning up and for making a nest for your creations to help travel with.  Please remember that if you are bringing back a dry piece of pottery to class you must carry it on a soft surface…otherwise it will probably break!  Mostly the handy dandy towel will suffice.

The other exciting thing happening this term is that we are working towards a group exhibition…super yay!  As mentioned in the previous post it will be themed around SOUP and we will be making a couple of class projects over the coming 8 weeks to contribute towards a class work.  Next week we will start on the TIN CAN SOUP MUG…so if you can bring along some visual ideas of what SOUP label you would like to create that would be great.  Last night while talking to my Advanced group about this we discussed the idea of SOUP being a comfort food, so what else could visually represent comfort.  There were some great ideas…one suggestion was shopping.  Dangerous for some but comforting for others in times of stress.  Shopping is a great suggestion as it is full of labeling and logo ideas just waiting to be re interpreted…maybe a Louis Vuitton tin can?  Gets you thinking doesn’t it!

Useful tools to keep an eye out for are a nice shiny smooth butter knife, craft knife, kebab sticks, fishing line, a pair of scissors, pencils and pens, rolling pins, lettering and texture stamps, cloth and surfaces that provide embossing texture.  Lots of these items can be found around the house, at second hand shops or various cheepie shops like the $2 Shop.  Making pottery will most likely drain your kitchen drawers of cooking utensil…so be warned now!

This term is also a pretty busy one for me as well.  I will be part of a couple of different exhibitions that I have been madly producing work for during the holidays!  I am part of the Christchurch Art Show in June and will be exhibiting new work there.  This will be held at Wigram and will feature many other talented South Island artists.  I will also be part of a July group exhibition themed on Birds at Form, a contemporary gallery in Colombo St, Sydenham.  So I will keep you up to date with these details and warmly invite you to come along for a look.

A big thank you to everybody who came along to have a look at the show last Friday night in The Tin Palace!  The exhibition will continue to run until the 25th of May…so if you would like to have a peek please wander along.

I leave you with a few pictures from the first week.

See you next week and have a great weekend!


Tatyanna a.k.a The Busy Finch 🙂


Welcome to term 2 Pottery!

Hello all you eager little mud monkeys!

I am so happy to be starting term 2 at Risingholme Pottery with you!

Just a few things for you to note.  Please have a look at my pinterest page to look at a variety of ceramic ideas.  If you see anything that you really love let me know and we can have a go of making your own version.

I will be starting a new pinterest page with ideas for our upcoming group exhibition called SOUP.  There are over 90 students this term and we would like to be able to exhibit two group works made up of hand crafted ceramic SOUP packets to be wall hung and a really fantastic collection of SOUP can mugs.  Both of these projects will be on the cards over the next 8 weeks and we will be exploring hand building, print and colour to make them with.  These items will be sold as a contribution to fund raising for the pottery rooms.

The concept of raising funds by making pottery items is found widely in America where the clubs and schools often do a project called ‘Empty Bowls’.  Each club produces bowls made to specification from all their members and  they are purchased as a price for entry to a meal event.  The bowl is then taken home as a memento.  In the case of these events all the proceeds go to societies that help with feeding those who often go hungry.  I love this!

The project items that we are going to make will give you an opportunity to look at art in ceramics.   We will explore advertising, text, print and colour as well as conceptual and design ideas.  Please don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of this, I will ask some simple questions and your answers will guide how you choose to decorate your project work.

I really love this ‘how-to’ article on making a small bottle and the way in which  Frank James Fisher uses print, colour and shape to evoke a particular era and feel to the bottle.  He uses several stamps that imprint into the clay with text and texture and then paints and fills indented areas with glazes and underglazes once the bottle has been bisqued.  In Fishers case the process is quite complicated but you could use several different textures plus some stencil cut outs to create a similar effect.  The next time you are in a store that might have stamps have a wee look and see if there are words to do with comfort, food, or emotions.  These would be great to use on our SOUP projects.  Also lace, and other textured surfaces can be used as well!

Cut stencils are excellent at masking and framing areas for decoration.  Simple shapes such as circles, rectangles and squares can work amazingly along side of incidental marks onto the clay.  When these are cut from paper they can be placed onto the clay and coloured slips can be painted on to the pot to create definition to an area.  If you cut them from a medium weight card, place this onto freshly rolled out clay and then put a texture on top and roll you can produce stencil textured shapes.  Have a look at Meredith Hosts video where she is using a variety of stencils and underglazes or slips to layer up and decorate a plate.

As well as the two set projects I will be encouraging you to produce work themed around the idea of SOUP.  So think SOUP bowls, SOUP spoons, SOUP tureens, SOUP roll plates, SOUP mugs…all things SOUP!

I have made a wee collage of pictures for you to give you an idea of things to come.

see you next week and have a great weekend!


Tatyanna a.k.a the busy finch 🙂