Ok so this will be a short post but necessary for me to keep the ideas coming and stored away for future reference.
So in the past month I’ve learned more about ceramics and pottery through Ohi Toshio and Jay Benzel than in the past 2 years combined. Youtube and friends on Facebook are nice for ideas and can steer you in a general direction but there is no substitute for hands on watching an 11th generation master at work or working hands on with someone who has thrown over 100,000 pots in the past two decades or so.
I worked with Jay from Benzel Pottery yesterday and made a few Yunomi and some mugs. Very excited that my throwing skills are improving. I have shied away from the wheel so that I didn’t pick up any bad habits and just been doing pinched vessels and slab construction and just playing around with some ideas so that I can stay in it with the clay.
We did some basic decoration with porcelain slip and it got me thinking about Calligraphy and the pens and brushes that they use. Straight up and down with a calligraphy pen and you get a straight narrow line. Then side to side gives you a thick line. Now add in the variables of curls and motion and you get the graceful transformation of thick and thin. This is not the best example in the world but it demonstrates the point.
So I want to go and get some finger paints. ALWAYS back to the basics. Back to childhood where life was simple and direct and the true spirit of the creative desire lives without complication. Closer to the “source”. Which in my mind, means pure potential.
So one finger can go in any direction leaving a single line, thicker or thinner. Introduce another finger and you have another dynamic to deal with how far the fingers are apart. Introduce a third and a fourth or a fifth and the variables grow considerably. Now, I’m not looking for “too much”. Never, ever too much. Always “just enough” is where I want to be. As much done as needs doing and no more.
This leads into a conversation with my wife about a collection of pottery being like an album. A cohesive whole. I completely understand that and I want to focus on a few standard shapes and designs of my own so that I can repeatedly throw them and have a cohesive collection. This in addition to experimentation of course.
This is something that you can never complete. You can never truly be done. In a conversation I had with Jay last night. “Why would you want to get into something you’d never finish?” A very hard question indeed and one that warrants its own post I guess. I’ll work on that sometime 😉
This morning I went on a river hike with a friend of mine from the DNR down the Chattahoochee river. We found some interesting mineral deposits and this one is inspiring me color wise for a new pot!
I came home and had a nap and some time with Benjamin and began the task I have been putting off for a while. Not because I didn’t think it wouldn’t be fun but just because of the amount of time it takes. I spent about 4 hours on this. That is with having a good bit of clay already bisque fired and ready to apply glaze.
I had to create a bunch more of the test tiles and let glaze dry before doing the combination dips. I’m so glad its done though. I’ll have a library of color combinations on several clay bodies. I do want to try some Potter’s Choice glazes from Amaco next.
Adding more glazes means infinitely expanding test runs though. I think I’m going to stick with the best of what I have here and discard what I dont like. I’ll just keep building the clay body and glaze combinations I like until I have a palate to work with and to call my own.
By the way here is what our garage looks like in the middle of the move. I think you can see the kickwheel back there with a few pot on it. It’s an adventure getting back there. I don’t think I’ll get to spin any more pots until after we are in the new place. Firing to commence in a few days to cone 6 after the test tiles dry completely.
Ben is into these little pinch pots with lids lately. Very cute.
This bisque firing went OK. I had two pots break because I was too impatient with the drying process on a few pots. I figured a day to dry and then a full night with a box fan on top of the kiln was sufficient to remove the moisture. Only one real loss though with an orb pot that I made.
The clear crackle raku glaze at cone 04 was VERY interesting with some bubbles being trapped. There was no crazing that I saw on the Raven clay. I am thinking about doing a pot in raven slip, firing it to cone 6 and then re-firing to cone 04 with the raku glaze. I’m contacting the manufacturer to see if it would be food safe as long as there is no crazing. Almost a frozen root beer effect with a lot of depth. Not sure how it will turn out on a cone 6 fired body and then re-firing but we shall see.
Surprisingly on the raku clay there was a bit of crazing.
And here they are all together. The red clay body took the glaze very nicely and there was no crazing at all, just a deep clear glossy finish over a terracotta color.
Only one of the batches of processed clay kind of held up cone 04 firing, and that was batch 01. It makes a nice slip too so far. I really still want to fire the rest of these to cone 6 just to see what it will do. Some of the flakes of minerals in the sandy clay would make an almost glittery surface if they were to adhere to the surface of a vessel. Experimenting is fun!