Build up layers of texture onto slabs of clay using a variety of found objects and tools. Learn to slab build vessel forms and platters from textured slabs. Add handles and feet that match the character of the textured vessel. Add color, stains, and glazes that accentuate your textures.
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.