In this installment of the Ceramic Arts Daily Presents Video Series, Gail Kendall  presents her “low-tech” techniques for fabricating beautiful plates, platters, bowls, and tureens using bisque molds, soft slabs, and coils. Starting with the basics, Gail explains how to make structurally sound coil-built molds, and then uses those molds to make a variety of forms. In addition, she demonstrates her sgraffito techniques on soft slip, as well as her glazing process. Runtime: 3 hours – 2 discs


I purchased this video to encourage myself to do some hand building. My introduction to hand building wasn’t very well done and after watching Gail work, my interest is renewed. I’m also going to teach my grand daughter later this summer and I believe Gail’s video will help me a lot to pass on good technique. — Florence W., Delaware


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Beauty from the basics

If you think you need a slab roller, a wheel or an extruder to begin creating elegant objects, think again. Gail takes you back in time to working with simple tools using simple techniques. Her forms and finishes require nothing more than the most rudimentary of tools — needle tool, serrated rib, Xacto knife, paddle, brush and a good banding wheel. What she demonstrates is how you can achieve the same fantastic results she does with care, patience and practice.


Skilled instruction

Gail has been working in clay for more than 40 years, so many things come naturally to her as she creates bowls, plates, platters and even a large soup tureen. She prefers working with ovals and squares since round objects can be made on the wheel. In her easy-to-follow step-by-step demonstrations, she provides scores of pointers about design and construction decisions that draw on her extensive experiences. After years of teaching pottery, she understands what you need to know to be successful.


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I use this video as I would a textbook. It is so full of information, I am so happy I have it!
— Bridget H., Texas


Joy to watch…Gail is easy going and comfortable teaching…a perfect video for me. — Sadie, Ontario


Construction techniques explored

For handbuilding, Gail relies on coils and slabs, but with a twist. Since she doesn’t like plaster in her studio, she creates drape molds carefully crafted from coils. From these molds, she’s demonstrates how to use them to form the basic shapes for bowls, dishes and tureen parts. Her plates and platters begin as slabs but she adds a hidden coil foot that defines the functional area of the piece. At the end of the video you’re treated to a bonus clip of Gail’s technique for creating various ornate handles.


Glazing and decorating

When it comes to decorating, Gail demonstrates how she combines sgraffito, slips, low-fire glazes, washes and meticulous accents to create incredible visual effects. And while her surfaces look complex, you’ll soon see how she approaches them one step at a time to get that effect albeit in a relaxed casual way. Of course, decorating is personal and you’re sure to get lots of ideas on how you’d like to decorate your objects once you know a few of the secrets.

CLICK HERE for a FREE PDF DOWNLOAD of Gail Kendall’s Low-Fire Surface Decoration article from the Ceramic Arts Handbook Electric Firing: Creative Techniques.
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About Gail Kendall

Gail Kendall has been working in ceramics since 1970. She is the Hixson-Lied Professor of Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she has been teaching since 1987. Gail exhibits nationally and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include the Huntington Museum of Art, West Virginia, and Fusions Gallery, Queensland, Australia. She has participated in over 100 group exhibitions in the last decade. Gail is represented in numerous public and private collections, including the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Plains Art Museum and the General Mills Corporation.