Posts Tagged ‘Hand Made Pottery’

Rolling

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

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One of my standard production items is an oval platter made with a rolled out slab on a plaster hump mold. I have made them for a lot of years but only this last year started making them with textured slabs like this.

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I have never gotten around to getting a proper slab roller. I still roll them out by hand with out any sort of gage to get the thickness consistent. I like that aspect of them.

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The mold is one I made years ago while still a student. I borrowed a wooden bowl and poured plaster into it to get this negative of the shape I want to make the piece. The slab is laid on the mold and the gross clay is trimmed away with a needle tool. After patting the clay a little I trim the clay to fit the mold and pat it a bit more. The clay sets up for a day or so and I remove it from the mold and round the rim with a rib tool.

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The roulette used here was made by winding a piece of cord around a cylinder of soft clay.

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This roulette was impressed with the thin edge of a wooden rib.

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This slab was textured with a wooden roller that has cord glued to its surface.

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Here I used a narrow wooden roller with fine cord glued to it.

Seen at the shop

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

HORSESHOE MTN. POTTERY

THESE POTTERY WARES ARE MADE BY HAND ON A LEACH STYLE TREADLE WHEEL BY JOSEPH BENNION.

THE FIRING IS ACCOMPLISHED OVER A THREE DAY PERIOD IN A TWO CHAMBERED WOOD BURNING KILN.

THE FUEL FOR THE FIRINGS IS ALL RECYCLED WOOD FROM BEETLE KILLED SAWMILL WASTE.

NO LIVE TREES WERE FELLED FOR THE PRODUCTION OF THIS POTTERY.

THIS POTTERY IS COMPLETELY SAFE FOR KITCHEN AND TABLE USE WITH ALL TYPES OF WHOLESOME FOOD. NO TOXIC MATERIALS ARE USED AS INGREDIENTS IN OUR CLAY OR GLAZES.

IF YOU BUY THIS POTTERY YOU WILL HAVE GOOD LUCK IN FIVE TO SIX WORKING DAYS AND MY KIDS WILL GET FED.

Home Stretch

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

I’m just two weeks away from the last day I will be throwing pottery this year. By then I’ll have enough ware to fire two to three times. My holiday sale days are November 27, 28 and December 5 then its off to Flagstaff with Sterling Van Wagenen to talk about a possible Grand Canyon film. When I return to Utah I’ll be scheduled for some hernia repair surgery that will put me out of commission for the rest of the year. I’ll likely start throwing again as soon as my doc says OK. Lee and I are gunning for a April or May Grand Canyon river trip that will be just the two of us. I’ll need to have a lot of inventory stacked up so I can take the time off and still be ready for my Memorial Day sale.
Here are some of the things I have cranked out the past week.
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I have been making some roulettes out of bisqued clay and impressing them into bowls. I am also using the rope and cord rollers I made a while back.Here are some examples of what I have so far including close-ups of detail.
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From time to time I make a few of these large chargers with slogans on the rim.

“All things are borrowed, All things must return” Carla Eskelsen

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

I recycled clay today. I would rather have spent the time throwing pottery. I store all of my trimmings, rejects and slurry from throwing in five gallon plastic buckets. A couple of times a year after all of the pottery is made I get around to pugging the sraps. It is not my favorite part of the process of producing handmade pottery. In fact I’d call it a chore. The old Bluebird pugger is noisy and doesn’t de-air so I have to knead the clay to get the air out before I can throw pottery with it. Recycling clay I am worth about $25 per hour so I guess it is OK pay, or should I say savings. No one gives me money for doing it. That is just the value of the clay if I had to buy it new. When I work in the Grand Canyon as a river guide I am paid about $10 per hour tips included, but that is really fun stuff that, truth be known, I would do for free.

So why do I bother with remixing all that clay? Why not throw it in a gully or make a big pile of it out behind the studio like I have seen so many places? Pugging scrap certainly is not all that romantic. It is not like going out into Nature and digging your own as the old time potters did.

I remember watching a film about Maria Martinez, the Pueblo Indian potter of Santa Clara, New Mexico. In the opening scene she went to the desert and gathered clay. Before she dug the first clods out of a hillside she offered corn meal to the four directions with a prayer of gratitude, asking permission for what she was about to borrow. Later when she had completed her pottery making she carefully gathered up all of the scraps, even little crumbs of clay and put them in a bowl to wait for remixing. She had respect and reverence for the earth element she used to make her vessels, the same element she believed her body was made of and that gives forth her food. She knows that “all things are borrowed, all things must return”. Our bodies, like the clay, are borrowed and will return to dust before long.

I suppose it is about respect. If I throw clay into a gully it goes back to its earthly home. What is wasted is the energy expended getting the clay from the mine to my studio. It is the idea that this material can be just tossed out like so much floor sweepings or excrement that eats at me. Clay is magical. I remember clearly the wonder I experienced as a child watching my father make simple figures with clay we had dug from the ground and firing them in an open campfire. I am so happy to be employed making stoneware pottery for people and to have such a beautiful material to work with. Something stops me from throwing it in the dumpster. I can’t do it.

The problem is all of the odd batches of clay sitting around my studio, some of it 20 or more years old. Sometime I should make aa bunch of pottery from all of the unused buckets and bags of clay that clutter my shop. It would be an interesting mix of clay types anyway.
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Scrap in the bucket, the old Bluebird and 600 pounds of recycled clay ready for storage.