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!
We fill our days with rituals that enhance the richness of life, and as a potter, I find it satisfying to know that the vessels I create become part of someone’s daily routine. Teapots are certainly objects that become part of our small celebrations and rituals alike. While they can be used as an exuberant expression of art conveying a concept other than the ritual of drinking tea, I prefer to think of my teapots as functional vessels: strong, quiet, balanced, and elegant. Traditionally the most seductive and complex of pottery forms, the parts and pieces that make up a teapot must work in harmony with one another. While it’s difficult to master the unity in design and scale of all the parts as a beginning potter, it’s worth the effort to make teapots even if you’re a novice. Completing a complex form gives a sense of joy and accomplishment; and, with practice, the relationship of all of the parts and the overall form will improve.
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.
Imagine a glaze that fires perfectly at both cone 10 and cone 6, in reduction and oxidation, and in a soda firing, yet still produces a variety of exciting, stable colors. A glaze that fits this description is Turner’s White, which consists of common, inexpensive ingredients.
For thousands of years, potters in many cultures have used slip or liquid clay to create decoration. The technique was elevated to a industrial level in seventeenth-century Staffordshire, England where potters produced a wide variety of dishes and hollow wares for the international market. American archaeologists unearth English slipware fragments in prodigious quantities from seventeenth and eighteenth century historical sites. Contemporary art potters have also found inspiration in these traditional English slipwares, popularized by the work of Bernard Leach and his students.
Before throwing porcelain, it’s important to adequately plan and design what you’ll be making. Porcelain contains more silica and feldspar (the glass-making components in clay bodies) and less clay (the plasticizers in clay bodies), so the body is very open and porous. This means that it is more difficult to work with than other clays since it becomes saturated with water so quickly and collapses much faster.
This project investigates types of articulation, or the way parts of a pot are joined, the implications of various kinds articulation in the artist’s response to surface treatment, and the aesthetic and technical problems of making lidded pots that pour.
This lesson plan will help students to: research historical and contemporary ceramic works that incorporate sprigging as part of the surface decoration, learn to make both bisque and plaster sprig molds, create sprig molds from found objects and from shapes and designs created in clay or carved from plaster, and to apply press-molded sprigs to leather hard forms, and press sprig molds directly into forms to stamp the surface.
Learn more about glazes through empirical testing. Glazes are all glasses, formed of different materials. There are essentially three categories of materials in a glaze: glass-formers, fluxes and stabilizers.
Years ago, in an attempt to incorporate digital photography into my clay work, I began experimenting with image transfer processes. I began working with Xerox transfers and decals with some degree of success. But one day I accidentally stumbled across a water-based process so simple and direct that it’s become the single-most-used method for most of my current transfer work. Unlike other processes involving a laser printer, Xerox machine, and/or chemical solvents, this water-based process can be done with an inkjet printer or any water-based media. Consequently it’s nose, skin, and, yes, even kid friendly.
The Mimbres people painted images in black on a white background, mostly on earthenware bowls. The bowl form and antelope decoration of the vessels in the photographic examples shown here was inspired directly from an authentic Mimbres piece in the Eiteljorg Museum collection (in Indianapolis, Indiana). I drew an interpretation of the original antelope design, photocopied it and enlarged it to a size that best fit the vessel being glazed, then cut it out with an X-Acto knife.
This project will help you pactice technical skills for forming and surfacing pottery objects, consider the constraints of functional ware, develop concept strategies that evoke abstracted meaning for a viewer/user, and practice using formal design elements (scale, proportion, edge, texture, color, etc.) in the service of putting personal meaning into your pottery objects.
This project will help students develop throwing skills on larger bowls, and refine their trimming skills, consider ceramic form and profiles that continue or complete the form as expressive elements in making personalized bowls, develop surface strategies that reinforce decisions in form, learn about reduction firing at cone 10, and glazes for that process
Practical issues based around comfort, convenience and food are a rich source of inspiration for functional work. As a potter focusing on function and form, what could you create to ease the schlepping of chips and dip in separate bowls? Are there food combinations you like, but elements of the presentation that you’d change? For example, do you like warm apple pie with ice cream on the side, but hate how the ice cream starts to melt? How could you design a dish that solves this problem?
As clay artists and potters, we’re always striving to express ourselves in our own voice. It often takes us years to find that voice because it usually develops out of our experiences, our education, and our exposure to many different forming and decorating techniques. In addition, everything we read about ceramic art history and keeping up with current trends in the art world also helps to form what we do.
The approach described here focuses on how including high percentages of recycled glass into clay tiles can save energy by lowering firing temperatures and create unique effects, as well as reusing a material instead of sending it to a landfill. The process focuses on making tiles comprised of 75% recycled glass and 25% clay that can be fired and cooled quickly (the entire process takes only 8 hours).
Learn to apply layered surface engobes and use the sqraffito surface decoration technique on functional work.
Chinese brush painting on rice paper uses specific brushes, brush strokes, and color loading methods. This technique can be translated to clay, once the basic strokes and mark-making techniques are learned.
At some point we all change clay bodies for one reason or another. Whether you want a body that shrinks less, has more absorption/less absorption, a lower/higher maturation point or just a different color, there are hundreds of commercial clays to choose from. While most commercial clays have pretty good general catalog descriptions of what they are and what they can do, once we apply our specific working and firing processes, other issues can arise. Alternately, when A combination of tests can give you plenty of information that makes choosing and learning about a clay body a little easier.
As any decorative language, Kbach is at its finest when its basic forms are utilized to create unique design solutions as personal expression through the technical approach. Throughout Khmer history these approaches to ornamental design have been passed down orally through generations of artists. Within the Kbach approach, different styles are characterized by divisions that emphasize the subtractive cuts and spaces contained within the basic shape.
There are several ways to learn about clay shrinkage, but none more simple than a clay ruler. Any age or level of experience will find this to be a fun and easy way to understand how much clay shrinks at the greenware, bone dry, and bisqueware stages. A standard clay bar test will give a measurable percentage for clay body shrinkage. A clay ruler gives a simple and obvious visual example in inches.
In this lesson, students create a basic cylinder, and then manipulate it to create unique shapes and forms, which soon start to reflect the students’ personalities. Students learn how to alter cylinders by faceting, cutting, darting and elongating to find ways to communicate an idea.
This project will help students throw a closed form on the wheel; trim a closed form using a chuck to support it, a skill also needed for trimming narrow necked bottles, and forms with fragile or uneven rims; create a tight fitting lid from part of the closed form; analyze and address problems with throwing, trimming and craftsmanship after cutting the piece apart and reassembling it.