Day # 281 – BOO! POTTERY

#281 - BOO! (1)

#281 - BOO! (6)

I’m so excited, my Day of the Dead mugs have been bisque fired!

Now that they have been fired you can tell I used white clay (last week they were grey).   I now have to add clear glaze to give them a nice shiny finish.  I also added a different color glaze to each of the mugs interiors.  Had to up the fun-factor!

I have to say though, The top photo of the mugs where they look white, sort of makes me want to create more of these mugs but leave them unpainted.  I like the matte white look. What makes them appear white is the clear glaze I applied.  It’s white now but turns clear when fired in the kiln.

My skull mugs are on their way to being completed!


#281 - BOO! (5)

Onto my slab-rolled-notch-cut bowls from last week.  They made it through the air drying process which means there’s a good chance they’ll make it through the bisque firing process too.

I gently smoothed out any rough surfaces today and then began painting them with under-glazes.#281 - BOO! (3) #281 - BOO! (2)

I painted two of the five bowls today, so I have three more to paint next week.

#281 - BOO! (4)

The rest of my pottery session was devoted to starting a new project.

I made QTY. 8 three-inch bowls.

My idea is to connect all of these little bowls to each other to create a jewelry tray.  Currently all of my costume jewelry is sitting in a small tray on my dresser.  It constantly gets tangled because there is nothing separating the pieces.

I plan on adding marbles into the bottom of each bowl.  Here is a sample of the technique by artist PrinceDesignUKRecycled Glass and ceramic Candle plate Rain Forest Leaf Eco Friendly Housewarming New Home Gift Bathroom Accessory Bath Art object vessel. Glass melts to the lowest area in a piece of pottery and generally has a beautiful crackle to it.  I have had quite a few failed attempts at adding glass to the bottom of my ceramics in the past, so I was deliberately looking for a project where I could try again.  You see, if you add too much glass to the bottom of a pottery piece, you run the risk of the glass turning white and opaque.  I’ve done that three times now.  So a marble or a glass pebble is a safe way to go.  It’s a consistently small uniform piece of glass and hopefully they will be a beautiful focal point to my piece.

Over this week, I have to think about whether I want to connect my bowls to a flat clay slab rectangle underneath (like a hand-built tray) or whether I want to keep them all separate and put them in wooden clementine boxes.  The latter would allow me to switch them up, but connecting them all would make the piece quite unique.  Hmm… what to do?  I have until next Tuesday to make my decision.

If you had seen my clothes today, then you’d know I had a fun day.  I was good and dirty!

But just like we say to kids, if by the end of the day you’re a total mess, it’s a sign you played hard!

I loved every minute of it!

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Pottery Day at Plum Pottery East Studio.

Last semester my pottery instructor, Rhea, had an entire table of these awesome looking bowls.  They were surrounded with newspaper and I wondered how they were made.  She worked on teaching me how to make the bowls today.  This is what I learned:


First I had to create flat slabs of clay with the slab roller machine.


Next I had to decide what size bowl I wanted, the height of the walls and the center area of the bowl.  I made a paper template, cut slits in 4 places and created an inner circle to know where to stop the slits.


When you slide the slits in on one another you get a simulation of a bowl.  The four slits overlap on one another and create triangles in the 4 regions.


I put my template aside and focused on stamping.  The main reason I was attracted to this project in the first place was because flat slab pottery is very conducive to pattern making.  A flat surface is easier to embellish than a round one.  At this point I also took a round wooden pottery bat and traced an outer circumference with a needle tool. This gives me my outer circumference.


These are my favorite stamps.  They are hand-carved wooden textile stamps from Pakistan.  I found them at Brimfield Antique Show.


OK.  Now above you saw my white paper.  I cut slits and overlapped the four sides until the desired bowl shape emerged.  In the photo above here, the white triangle is a template of the overlap from my paper. At this point you scratch & score the inside of the clay triangular areas.


Very slowly you merge the triangles together with wet slip, you are raising the walls and at the same time smoothing the seams.  You can see the 4 seams faintly in this photo, but it shouldn’t show after the bowls are fired and glazed. As the clay is firming up, bottom support is needed.  Today we used sponges but plastic bags or newspaper would work too. You just want to keep their shape uniform while they are setting up.


What I love about this technique is that the bowls look handmade.  I love handmade.  It says no one else’s bowl is quite like mine!

At this point we will slow dry them for a week.  They get covered in plastic.  Next week I can work with them fixing the seams, smoothing out the rims, and fixing the patterns where they need it.

Then they get bisque fired, glazed after that and back in the kiln for a final firing.

The process takes time, but I’ll start something new next week and keep my pottery assembly line moving.

Gosh darn it!  I just love playing with clay. You can make the coolest usable things!

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Sad news.

Today was my last official pottery class until the fall.

I started taking classes in October and the only thing that I could do and do well, was make a mess!

Oh so very slowly I have begun to understand what goes into a piece of pottery.  I thought I’d sign up for a class and kick some ass!  It was the other way around.  I’ve finished almost every pottery blog with the words humbled.  It is way more difficult than I ever could imagine.

I look forward to classes in the fall.  hopefully I won’t lose all of my new-found knowledge and I can pick up where I left off.  Yeah, something tells me I’m going to be right back at the beginning making a big fat mess!

So today was a glazing day.  Time to put the final finishes on a bunch of my pieces.


I had to redo the glazes on these pieces because the top glaze flaked off.  Quite the process.  I had to scrub the glazes off, let them dry for a week and reapply the glazes this week.  These are going to be vases that surround the umbrella on my mom’s picnic table.  We joke that pieces for my mom are cursed.  My last attempt broke into little shards in the kiln and these are off to a rocky start….I’m holding my breath mom :)


I bought a bunch of really bright glazes.  Fire orange, bright turquoise and canary yellow.  These look matte and chalky now, but they are going to be blazing with color after they get fired!


These were two vases I created from flat slabs of clay.  I stamped Pakistani wooden textile stamps into the slabs for decoration.  The vase to the left is going to be fire orange, hyacinth purple and black.  The vase to the right is going to be flaming red and orange with a royal blue rim.  I plan on putting yellow, red and orange flowers from my garden in them so I wanted them to be bright. Who am I kidding, I want everything to be bright!


Lastly, I cleaned up and trimmed a bunch of pieces I threw last week.  I had fun carving textures into them. They will get fired in the next week or so and then I will have to sneak into the pottery studio for one more day of glazing.

It’s been quite the pottery journey the past couple of months.  I don’t think I’ve laughed as hard at my self in years!  Watching my blog once a week on Tuesdays has provided some comic relief.  I’ve had bowls fly across the room, thrown pieces collapse on the wheel and a couple of cases of the dropsies on my own pieces.

I’ve totally enjoyed the experience and hope someone out there who might have been afraid to try something new, got some courage to fail, oh sorry I mean, take a chance!  You can’t master anything without humbly being willing to learn.


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Why do I feel like I start off every pottery blog saying “Today was one of those days…”

As Yoda would say, “Master I am not!”

Last week I threw 6 beautiful mugs and now there are 4.

I left them uncovered last week, which made them very hard and difficult to trim this week.  My trimming tool got caught in the hard clay and flung one mug off the wheel and then smashed against the wall.  The second disaster occurred when I trimmed too much in one place and actually split the mug in two. Bottm-less cup of coffee anyone? Rhea, my instructor at Plum Pottery East, said “If you wanted 6 mugs, you should have made 8.”  So maybe I should say I wanted 4 mugs and that is why I made 6.  But really, I want more mugs. So after I finished trimming the few mugs I had left, I went back to throwing more mugs today.


Yep, these puppies will be handle-less because they were just too darn hard to add handles too, but I was actually mentioning I wanted some mugs without handles.  So yeah, I meant to leave them out uncovered and make them too dry.  It was all part of my master plan!

So back to throwing I went…IMG_9275



After disaster…


Until finally I made a vessel I could probably drink out of.  But then, guess what?  My darling instructor tried to pick up the bat it was on and plop, it caved in!  HOW COULD SHE???

Luckily she indeed is a master. She threw it back on the wheel and made it look better than it did before. Thank you Rhea!  You can ruin then recreate my pottery any day!  I shouldn’t joke, she felt bad.  But really, it’s just clay. …You ruin one mug…you’ve ruined twenty…but who’s counting?


Do you like this mug?  Yep, it was supposed to be a mug but somehow, when in my hands, things morph into something else.  I needed another vase oh so desperately. Not!


On my last attempt, I did make a fabulous shaped vessel.  It looks like an urn perfect for sipping coffee, a mini coffee urn!  I wrote naughty things on my bat for my teacher to find.  I think she’s as warped as I am…I hope.  Nothing worse than a bad sense of humor!


Finally, some survivors made it through the bisque firing process.  I will have to figure out how I want to glaze these next week. I almost like them the way they are!

So, I guess my great words of wisdom for this week would go a little something like this:

It is not so much about making something someone in your household might ever want to use, it is more about the journey and the good laugh you can have at your own expense at least once a week!

Just keepin’ it real!

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Ahh, there is nothing like starting off with a bad pun!

Pottery day today.


I started off the morning by glazing the flower vase ring that will go around my mom’s umbrella pole on her picnic table.  It looks pretty ugly, but here are the color glazes I chose for the vases down below:


I put Nebula on the bottom which is a pearl color and greens and blues on the top.

So far I’ve broke my mother’s birthday pottery and this is the Mother’s Day present she never received.  I sure hope it makes it through the kiln!

I spent the rest of my class making mugs.  Believe it or not, for taking pottery for 8 months, I don’t have a lot of mugs. Here, check out my cabinet:


Shame on me!

We all found that the pretty mugs I made for the family, Post #64 THOSE ARE SOME GOOD LOOKING MUGS, were a little too small for every day consumption.  That’s what you get from a pottery newbie! So the mugs I made today are giant.  I’m also thinking of leaving the handles off, so I can cram more mugs into that tiny cabinet.

Does anyone own handle-less mugs? Are they too hot to hold?  I’d love some feedback while I still have time to put them on if I should.

So I was all confident today in pottery class.

My teacher was not there today.  I thought I am going to rock this today and for the most part I did.  I centered the clay by myself on the wheel, I compressed the bottoms and rims of my mugs, I didn’t even make a mess today which is totally unusual!

But there was one thing:


My last mug.  Beautiful shape.  Smooth sailing. Until I went to take the mug off the pottery wheel.

Yeah, I forgot to put the wooden bat under my clay, so that after I throw it, I can get it off the wheel!

Take a look up top at the first photo.  Each has a round bat that I worked on.

So yeah, I’m not as cool as I thought!

I left a note asking my instructor to pull it off the wheel after it dries.

Whoops, back to being humbled!

That pottery, it’s so much harder than it looks!

So next week I should get all the bud vases back bisque fired and I will begin to decorate & glaze those.

I’m getting to the last few classes and then I will break for summer.  I’m sure going to miss it!

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Wow, I’m feeling a little disoriented.  The weekend ended and I moved right into pottery class!

Today I had lot’s of things that needed trimming.  This is where you flip all of your vessels upside down on the pottery wheel and clean up the bottoms of your pottery.  You need to create a thin rim for your vessel to stand on while also creating the smallest surface possible to prevent glazes from sticking to the kiln. I had seven pieces to clean up, which took most of the class.

Then came the fun part, decorating and embellishing.

I went a little nuts on the bowl up above creating dots.  I just love the way the glazes break over the dots and leave little pools of glaze in their centers.  I dotted up a handle-less mug as well. Dots were definitely my thing today.

As was decorating some more of these little bud vases I’ve been creating.


On two of these mini vases I created patterned medallions. They give me an Asian-deco vibe.


And the last three I dedicated to flowers.  I just can’t get enough.  Now I will still get to enjoy flowers even when they are empty.

All of these will soon be bisque fired and then I can start adding some of that color I love so much.

Stay tuned to see these pieces evolve!


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#141- MEET IDA & ERNESTO  (1)

Ida & Ernesto have been married for over 30 years.  Ernesto just nods and pretends he’s listening because Ida talks too much.  Ida is always trying to improve things and make everything better.  Ernesto likes Ida just the way she is and tolerates her craziness.

The only thing missing from my pottery duo are Ida’s cat-eye glasses.  I was supposed to make them, but forgot.  I think she really needs them though.  Then she would look like the ultimate Floridian retiree.  She’ll have to go back to the studio next week.

I got my happy couple back today from my pottery class.  If you click the category “pottery” at the end of the post, you can see the multiple steps that went into them.

But that’s not all,  I got more back today!

#141- MEET IDA & ERNESTO  (2)

This one I had titled #99 -POTTERY IS FOR THE BIRDS .  I used three different glazes to achieve that swirly-blue.  I love it, I think it looks like fountain water.


#141- MEET IDA & ERNESTO  (3)

Here is a little bowl I had created a Swiss-dot impression on. I also stamped a peace sign in there.  I have no ide why, it probably would have been sweeter and simpler if I hadn’t (notice an on-going theme where I over-do things?)

Finally, today I received some of my little bud vases back from Post #120 – Nip it in the Bud.

#141- MEET IDA & ERNESTO  (4)

#141- MEET IDA & ERNESTO  (6) #141- MEET IDA & ERNESTO  (5)

#141- MEET IDA & ERNESTO  (7)

I love these vases so much, I made 5 more today!

  I am going to line my kitchen window sills with all the pretty buds blooming in my yard.  The bud vases are only 3 inches tall.  My mom said she saw some where they were calling them “mommy vases” for all the little bouquets kids pick.  You know the dandelions and violets we all kindly receive?  I thought that was cute.

Once and a while, I go to pottery class and it feels like Christmas.

Today was definitely one of those days.

Woo Hoo!

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#134 - GLAZING DAY (1)b

When I arrived at Plum Pottery Studio, I sure had a lot of little creatures awaiting my arrival.

I had put off this part of the pottery process for some weeks now…it begins to build up….and then you must surrender to:

Glazing Day.

A lot of us dread glazing day because it takes a long time.

The glazes are stored in large gallon buckets.  Each color needs about 50 stirs to get the consistency even. If you adore color like I do, and feel the need to open at least 10 barrels, then that makes for around 500 stirs!

Generally, most people dip their pottery into the buckets.  They give it a swirl and they are done.  Maybe a second dip of another color on the rim.  But me?  Could I keep anything that simple?


Because I under glaze a lot of my pieces, I then have to hand paint with a paint brush the other colors I want to add plus a coat of clear to make them glossy.

Needless to say, it took me most of the class to glaze the eight pieces.

#134 - GLAZING DAY (2)

Hopefully next week I will get to see if I made some great glaze choices or if I completely ruined them!  Pottery is way to much of a gamble I tell ya.  Way to much to learn and perfect.

I finished up the class with some other small projects.  I put bottoms on the vases I am making for my mother’s patio and I eked out two more vases with the small slab of clay I had left from this session.#134 - GLAZING DAY (3)

I need to make as many vases as I can in the next few weeks to accommodate all the flowers I plan to pick from my gardens.  It should be fun to paint flowers in my own vases some day this summer.

So next week I will trim up these vases and head back to the pottery wheel in hopes that all of these lessons will have somehow sunk in!

I’m looking forward to some very colorful treasures!

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This is all that is left from my mother’s St. Patrick’s Day birthday present I was going to give her for mother’s Day (note the lapse in time).  It was to be a long rectangular planter. But now, it can be broken into shards to fill the bottoms of other planters.  Poor clay carcass. During it’s autopsy my instructor discovered glaze had been left all along the bottom of the planter.  This stuck to the kiln and while the planter was shrinking from water evaporation, it broke into about 6 pieces.


Yep, like most things, I generally learn the hard way :)

So I delivered the bad news to my mother.  I’m sure she’s wearing black today.  It may take a while to get through the grieving process…

But even though she’s in mourning, she did come up with another idea :)

My mom has requested flower vases which she’d like connected in a ring, to wrap around her umbrella pole for her patio table.

She wants the ring to be in two pieces though, so that it can be easily removed to water or create her floral bouquets.


I once had a glass ring of bud vases designed for this very purpose. But, it drove me crazy, so I never used it.  What I didn’t like was that it was one solid ring which meant I had to unbolt my umbrella to get the vase ring off and on the table. Also, the budvases were about 2 inches high.  This left a very small area for water and the buds would just tip right out of the thing because they were too top-heavy.

My mom’s vases are about mug-size.  I slab rolled them and then used stamps, texture sheets and crocheted pieces to decorate the vases.   Each vase is different.  They should shrink a little bit and then when I glaze them, they should be weather proof.

Now, the only trick is trying to keep this project from self-destructing.

Ya know I love ya mom right?

With any luck I will have this ready for you by Christmas!

Maybe  ;)

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Pottery day today.

You can tell I have spring perpetually on my mind!

  Today I trimmed and under glazed a collection of bud vases.  Each have a bright color, but after they are bisque fired, I am going to add translucent colored glazes over them. This way I will have subtler colors on the outside with a pop of bright color shining through from underneath. I am hoping they will be sophisticated, yet fun.  The vase with the flower attached is going to be turquoise with a red flower.  It just seemed like that little bud vase needed a little something extra. It’s cute as a button. I also created a Swiss dot pattern on the little bowl because I am going to add a periwinkle glaze that will fill in the holes and hopefully create a nice smooth pattern. You can’t see it, but I stamped a cool peace sign in the center.  I’ll have to show you in the finished product.

We’ll see. You never know.  You hope for one thing, you sometimes get another.  Either way, I am ready to fill these vases with the fruits of my gardens! Stay tuned. They’ll probably wind up in my paintings!

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