A Little Pottery Ingenuity



A couple weeks ago I had mentioned that I had one of those “A-HA” moments.  I have been using craft foam to make my own stamps for abstract art painting. Then it occurred to me, why not try the same concept with clay?  I made some testers and gosh darn it, it works!  So to continue with my “by the sea” theme, I’ve started creating foam plates to allow me to write  words of inspiration on my summer beach pottery. I’m psyched.  What a super-fun idea! I’mmm juuust gettting staaarted!!!


Made some pretty pitchers last week too. You guessed it, beach theme!

Hand-Built Color



These are slab-built mugs.  Usually I combine wheel-thrown with slab-rolled clay, but after seeing completely hand-built mugs the other day, I thought why not?

They are wildly imperfect which I love in pottery.  I like to see and feel the person who made the vessel’s hands on the piece.

Plus add a ton of colorful underglazes and now they say “Mary’s hands” all over them! For their second firing, I am going to rub the glossy glazes into the crevices like tile grout.  The finished product looks something like this:


So all though they look like they are going to be crazy bright, they will be tamed down a bit by the glazes.  Colorful but traditional. Ok. Maybe not so traditional.  Maybe I should just call them crazy-happy?


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I know, I know, what was I thinking?  How on earth did I wind up with a cat in a bag?

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Well, it began with a lesson in pinch pots.  I was learning how to trap air inside a pinch pot.  Pretty much, you create a clay bubble.  When air is trapped inside, you can then roll, morph and play with the clay, yet it stays inflated. I took my clay bubble and transformed it into a cat head.

Well, then what do you do with a cat head?  First I tried making a coil pot for its body, but it looked horrible.  It looked like an abandoned bee hive.  It was abandoned to the trash!

Then the idea struck me…BAD PUN = AWESOME! = CAT IN A BAG

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I made a ceramic bag out of clay slabs, stamped in my bad pun, added some handles and viola!

It’s being bisque fired as we speak….

Now what will  I do with a  cat in a bag when  I get this thing home? …hmm… I have no idea!


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Day #288 – BOWLED OVER

#288- Bowled over (1)

Hmm. Bowled Over.  Have I already used this horrible pun?  Man, the bad puns are all beginning to blend together at this point…

So as usual, Tuesday is pottery day!

I began by finishing up the under glazing on my notch-cut bowls.

#288- Bowled over (7) #288- Bowled over (6) #288- Bowled over (5) #281 - BOO! (3) #281 - BOO! (2)

There will be five bowls for a set of four.  Rhea my pottery instructor at Plum Pottery East recommended I make an extra just in case the bowls didn’t make it through the drying process.  They’ve made it through thus far, so looks like I’ll have an extra bowl!

My idea with painting them the bold colors took inspiration from Hungarian embroidery, but who am I kidding, everything I make winds up brightly colored even when I try to show restraint!

#288- Bowled over (4) #288- Bowled over (3)

Last week I threw nine little bowls on the pottery wheel.

#288- Bowled over (2)

My idea for this project was to create jewelry trays.  Today I textured some flat slabs of clay to create the trays.  The studio has all sorts of plastic bowls and trays to use as templates.  These squares seemed perfectly manageable.  I then scratched, added slip and connected the little bowls to the slabs. I hope to be able to tame my jumble of junk jewelry which is always lying around on my dresser!

I have some fun pieces coming out this pottery session.  It took me a while to figure out what I needed.  Now that I know what I want, I can make quirky everyday items to suit my over-the-top style. Thank goodness.  It’s pretty hard to find obnoxiously colored household items in my everyday shopping environment!

Pottery Day is like my favorite day of the week.  It’s always like Christmas!


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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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