Even the beginner knows that ceramics is filled with choices. Choices of forming techniques, materials, firing options, decorating styles, and on and on. And that’s why even in our 14th year of publication, we’re still at it – there’s just so much to choose from.In this issue you’ll get to take a look at throwing a bowl upside down, throwing a box, making and decorating a tile with piece missing, and even building your own tabletop slab roller for under $150. Beyond these featured choices, you’ll also get a glimpse of a product called Pyrofoto, a couple of stellar DVD reviews, making handles with plaster dies, using lusters, making a jewelry dish and some design ideas for flower pots. Where do you start? You’ve got a lot of choices – go ahead and choose. —Bill Jones, Editor
I’ve recently been experimenting with translating my drawings onto ceramic objects using the majolica technique. The direct nature of applying color through this brush technique has a nice appeal because the fired result looks pretty close to the way it was applied. In an effort to get some of my advanced students to expand their experience with different firing ranges, I’ve been introducing majolica as a way to explore what the character and the color palette this technique has to offer. For the type of imagery I’m trying to achieve, I’ve found that simple, refined forms with smooth surfaces are best, but thinking outside of the box might lead you beyond the conventional interpretation of this technique.
The way that clay stamps can activate and transform the clay surface has been a constant source of fascination to me, helping my work evolve and grow over the last 35 years. I’ve worked with traditional, impressed designs, and more recently with raised designs created via a two-step process. The platters with raised patterns are created using a hump mold and slab construction. First a pattern is stamped into a slab that’s been draped over a form, then this slab is dried and bisqued to create the mold. The surface designs on the mold create a convex, or raised pattern rather than the typical concave surface achieved with stamps. I came up with this idea a few years ago after becoming frustrated with the way traditional stamped patterns did not hold up when using drape molds. I wanted to make utilitarian forms that were elegant, had fine detail and could be reproduced. It was also essential to me that making these pieces kept my joy for working with clay alive!
In this ceramic art lesson plan, Arthur Halvorsen demonstrates how to build a flowerbrick that’s inspired by cake shapes and cake decoration using soft slab techniques combined with slip trailing.
Theme: Endless Techniques
When Geoffrey Chaucer said back in the 15th century “The life so short, the craft so long to learn” he could have been speaking in the 21st century. Pottery making is an art and craft that has no limits for learning, and this is borne out once again in this issue of PMI. Just when you think you’ve mastered enough techniques, we roll out some more, which we think is a good thing. We take a look at some cool throwing techniques and tips in this issue we know you’ll enjoy.
Theme: Part of the Story
When we artists reveal their techniques in Pottery Making Illustrated, we often run out of room. But we’re more than happy to accommodate them when they have more to share. In this issue, we welcome back Paul Barchilon to give us some tips on using die-cut stencils and Bowie Croisant shares his technique for mold making and slipcasting. On the flip side we have Martina Lantin and her Crown Jars but she has more for a future issue.
Maquettes have long been used by artists as a way of planning out a
sculpture. They are basically three-dimensional sketches in miniature
of the eventual larger-scale work. In today’s post, an excerpt from the January/February 2011 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, Magda Gluszek walks us through her ceramic sculpture process, from maquette to form. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
Grout does not just have to be a practical element in tile work. With a wide range of premixed grout colors available, it can also be used to aesthetically enhance a single tile or an entire tile mural. By strengthening the weight of a line or adding a weathered patina, grout can really become an integral part of the decorative process. Today, Laura Reutter demonstrates how grout can be used in this way. She also gives some great advice for press molding and drying tiles without warping.
Theme: The Synergy of Techniques
When it comes to challenging techniques, even the most complicated ones can be broken down into a series of simple steps. In this issue, you’ll get a bonus because each artist takes you step-by-step through a series of techniques to create a work of art. For example, Magda Glusek’s unusual sculpture uses sculpting techniques and decorating with both fired and non-fired finishes. Peter King describes how to handbuild large cylinders you can finish on the wheel and Margaret Bohls makes plaster texture molds as a starting point for her elegant vases displayed on lattice stands. In each article, you’ll find plenty of ideas to inspire your next piece.
Many people know that a microwave oven can be used to dry clay quickly when you’re in a pinch. Dielectric heating (the type used in a microwave oven) is also used in industry to fire ceramics for high-tech applications. This option is also available on a small scale to the studio potter, at least for firing tests and small objects using a microwave kiln. In today’s post, an excerpt from our latest free download the 2011 Buyers Guide to Ceramic Arts Supplies: A Studio Reference for Purchasing and Using Ceramic Supplies and Pottery Tools, Jessica Knapp tells you all about this alternate use for old microwaves!