Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Set of four - And more

I'm about to head off to North Carolina for a week-long pottery workshop. I thought this might be a good time to update you on the latest pieces I have completed (aside from the pit fired things in the last pottery post.)

One of the things our instructor, Rachael, big on is having us do a matched set of four pieces. This could be bowls, plates, etc., but most often takes the form of a set of four mugs.

This sounds easy - make a mug, then make three more just like it. Trust me, this is harder than it looks. First, you weigh out four equal weight balls of clay. Next, you make your first piece. Then you measure it - height, width, diameter of both the base and the mouth - and try to replicate both the size and shape of your first piece three more times. (It helps to use templates - pre-made patterns - to keep the shape consistent, but so far, I am doing it by hand. No cheating till I can get it right!)

After that comes the trimming stage - taking off excess clay at the base, and, in the case of mugs, adding handles. Handles. My biggest nemesis.

Next, you pray that all four pieces make it through bisque firing without developing "S" cracks in the bottom or the handles falling off.

Finally, glazing. This step covers a wealth of errors. After all, once the four pots are finished in the same color, people may overlook the many mistakes you made during production.

Here is my set of four mugs - the third (fourth?) time I have tried to do it. Compare the mugs below to my first attempt here. I think I am getting better - you be the judge.
white clay glazed with "Seaweed" (plus "Satin White" inside to allow the seaweed to run and drip.)
A "handle-side view" - size and shape are pretty close. The mugs measure 3" high by 3" diameter at the mouth and hold 6 to 8 oz.

This is the handle shape I was going for.

Got it in three of the mugs, but ...

... OOPS! Here is mug number four. This handle didn't go quite right.

One trick to getting a set of four matching things is to make at least five, sometimes, 6 or more pots, to allow for screw-ups. The mug below was originally one of the set above.

Too small and trimmed differently at the base, I decided to use a different glaze, simply called "Yellow," with the same "Satin White" interior and details stenciled in black underglaze. It's still cute, just not part of the set.

This wide, shallow bowl came out great. I was very pleased with the size and shape, as well as the glazing. I dipped it in "Morty's Green" first, then the other side in the lighter "Celery." The overlapping of the two glazes gave the bluish green shade in the middle.
About 2.5" high by 9" in diameter, I call it a pasta bowl, but it could be for salads, too, I suppose. I might make four smaller matching bowls, and sell it as a set.

This 5 inch tall vase of white clay is glazed in "Ironstone," with a rim of "Saturation Gold."

This 9" diameter plate of brown clay turned out pretty well, with only a tiny warp. (Plates are tough to get right.) I dipped approximately 2/3's of it in "Tomato" and then the other 1/3 in "Blue Rutile." I then drizzled some more blue over the tomato section. Interesting effects, I thought.

I should have wireless Internet at Wildacres, in Little Switzerland, NC, so I hope to post from there with pottery workshop updates and insights. I'm also taking my binoculars, to do a little birding on the side. The mountains of western North Carolina should be good for some interesting birding, maybe even a Life Brown-headed Nuthatch.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I really am impressed with your mad pottery skilz Kathi. I love that pasta bowl and the four matching mugs are so pretty. Love the drippy effect inside.

Safe travels to your workshop!
Grab us some birds!

Beth in NYC said...

Great mugs! They may not be perfect but I know that ceramics is a very imperfect "science." You're getting really good at it!

Lisa said...

You big fibber. You will only get a BHNU if it's lost and stops at Wildacres for directions.

KatDoc said...

Thx, Beth and Lynne.

yeah, yeah, Lisa - I wrote this post before I got the replies from the Carolina Birders listserv. For those reading comments, the odds of my getting a Brown-headed Nuthatch in the mountains of western NC are practically zero. I have been told that they are an eastern costal resident.

Still, one can hope for something cool.


Mary said...

You'll see that cute BH Nuthatch! If you don't, drive a few hours southeast and see mine :o)

You have advanced in your pottery skills so much! Enjoy your trip.


NCmountainwoman said...

I remember going to Little Switzerland when I was a kid, but haven't been in years. It's a couple of hours from us and is a lovely area. You will definitely love the mountains there. Hope the workshops are good. Potters are almost as nice a group as birders. Have a wonderful time throwing pots and watching the birds and mountains. You will love North Carolina. Welcome!

Kyle said...

Wow, "mad skillz" is right! Your pottery work just gets better and better, Kathi. These are all beautiful.

Hope you have a great time in North Carolina!