Lucky for all of us, not everyone operates like I do in a studio. In this issue, we feature the work of talented, goal-oriented artists like Alice Drew making silkscreens with, of all things, a Thermofax machine (yes, they’re still around!), Billy Lloyd throwing and trimming pots to industrial standards, Nick Ramey creating quirky vases, and Jen Mecca elevating salt and peper shakers to center stage. The interesting thing about this issue is just how diverse the techniques are—throwing, handbuilding, image transfer, trimming, altering, slip decoration, and sprigging.—Bill Jones, Editor
- We’ve talked in the past about how we have general themes running through our issues like throwing, handbuilding or surface decoration. The theme for this issue is earthenware and we found artists use this low-range clay in quite different ways and for different reasons. Courtney Murphy loves working with colors and understands that they only show up on a pale background, but she also loves the rich terra cotta tones. Her solution is to apply a pale slip where she plans to decorate and leave bare clay to show off the dark body to add contrast to great success. Jane Sawyer does the same thing by freely running her fingers through a white slip to reveal the dark clay below. Judith King, on the other hand, uses a white earthenware clay because her focus is on the detailed colorful decorations she applies to the surface. —Bill Jones, Editor
- Buy this back issue – $3.99 (PDF only)
NCECA is a learning experience you’ll never forget, and if you didn’t make it this year, then perhaps you can attend it in Houston in 2013 or Milwaukee in 2014. Fortunately for all of us, the conference is held in vibrant ceramic communities around the country to accommodate the many potters unable to travel far and also to showcase the local talent.
Thanks to all those readers who visited the booth or stopped to chat with us at the conference. Your comments and support, as well as your thirst for learning, continue to inspire us to deliver great ideas to your mailbox. —Bill Jones, Editor
Finding Your Voice
Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins tells aspiring poets that “your voice is hidden in the voices of others.” He explained that to find your voice, you need to identify the poets you like and read their poetry. You’ll soon discover poems you wish you had written, and you’ll become jealous and competitive. As you emulate the poems and improve on them, your voice will emerge over time and the individual influence of other poets will no longer stand out. The same thing happens in pottery as you identify techniques and pots you like. When you learn the techniques of other potters, you’ll discover ways to improve on them to make them your own; and eventually, your voice will emerge. —Bill Jones, Editor
Theme: Seattle and Northwest Artists
Mistakes–If there’s one thing all of us potters have in
common it’s our ability to make mistakes and keep going. Whether it’s
an S-crack through a bottom, a crawling glaze, or getting wax resist in
the wrong place, the only rational thing to do is say “oh, well” (maybe
after an expletive) and move on. Why do we do it? Because not working
in clay is worse. —Bill Jones, Editor
As the holiday season approaches, I’m doing a lot of thinking about what gifts I’ll be making this year, and as usual, I look through some of the past issues of PMI for ideas. What I find are not just ideas about how to make or decorate something, but also some bits of inspiration to think about in general. A good example is in this issue with Sarah Jaeger, our featured artist. She thinks a lot about the person who will use a piece she forms, glazes and decorates, and imagines how they will hold and view the work. By altering her thrown forms she adds a tactile quality to an otherwise plain bowl. And with her decoration, she even adds a little design work inside the foot that reveals itself when the bowl is in the dish rack. —Bill Jones, Editor
Theme: Surface Decoration
The holiday season may seem a long way off as we enjoy the last days of summer, but it closer than you think. If you’re planning on trying out some new techniques for gift ideas this year, now’s the time to get started. And do we have some great ideas you can start with! We’re happy to have Jason Bige Burnett, Kristin Pavelka, Connie Norman and Kate & Will Jacobson as our featured contributors in this surface decoration issue, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy every new technique. —Bill Jones, Editor
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!