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This is just a quick tutorial on how to make a “Faux Bois” (fake wood) texture on a slab.
It is my impression that Faux Bois is all the rage and if Martha Stewart has Faux Bois wrapping paper, clearly, to be able to make a dish or box using it, it’s a GOOD THING™
It is also a good thing to do all the steps and do them in the right order.
Start with a slab that is about 1 inch thick.
Paint some slip on there or even underglaze in a fairly thick coat. I’m using chartreuse to make it particularly hard to see in my photos.
Take sheets of newspaper to “dry” the slip. Just lay the newspaper on there and watch as the moisture begins to show through the paper. When you pull up the first sheet, you may end up pulling off some of the slip-
just set that piece aside and keep drying with successive pieces of newspaper until there is no moisture being absorbed by the paper.
Here, I’m rubbing the paper down to aid in the moisture absorption.
At this point, if you wish, you can try to re-apply the peeled up slip. If you can get it to stick down to your now dryish surface, you may have to dry off the new bits with one more sheet of newspaper.
You are wondering why we need to “dry” the slip? We are going to stretch the slab under it. If the slip is wet, it will just stretch nicely with the slab and we won’t get any of the cool effects we’re trying for.
When your surface is not tacky or shiny, take a sharp tool like a needle tool and draw in the wood pattern. Basically you draw a few knotholes and then draw vertical lines that bend around them when they encounter the curve of the knothole. Take a look at some wood grains or Faux Bois wrapping paper for reference.
Don’t go too deep! You only want to pierce that dried slip layer. Also, draw it smaller and closer together because this pattern is going to
e x p a n d .
Next, begin to throw out a slab. This is a little tricky as you shouldn’t hold the slab on top and you can’t flip it over, you have to throw it with the slip side facing up the whole time.- my action shot of this did not turn out.
As it stretches, the faux bois pattern will become spread out and more proportionate.
I’ve found that if it has really sharp edges, once it is all the way thrown out, you can go over it gently with a rolling pin but I would avoid that if you can.
Then you can let it harden to leather hard and build something with it like a box, or you can drop it into a mold and make a dish.
Obviously you are going to need a transparent type glaze on it like clear or a celadone or even a shino depending on how dark your slip or underglaze is.
Posted 1 month, 1 week ago at 11:10 am. 7 comments
Recently, I constructed 4 oval casseroles that I was quite pleased with. I was inspired by some casseroles that Nate Pidduck had made that I really liked.
The construction is fairly straightforward: I first threw some ridged (not rigid) discs about 3/4 of an inch thick on a plastic bat. I set those aside while I threw 4 almost vertical—they tilted inward– walls with a gallery at the top but no floor; also on plastic bats.
By this time, the discs were set up enough for me to wire them off and throw them out on the canvas covered table, stretching them into ovals.
At this point, I also threw out several slabs for what would eventually be the lids. You want all the clay involved to be about the same dryness so that it is all shrinking at about the same rate.
The timing on this altering of pots is crucial.
Too wet, the walls tend to cave in or flop around and the oval is at best, overly controlled by your hand, at worst, a total asymmetrical failure.
Too dry, and the rim cracks as you try to force it beyond what it was once willing to do. If you get it right, the clay chooses its own curve; a delicious, aesthetically pleasing curve that the clay knows so well how to do. You see this curve most often in handles.
Back to the walls which had I wired off and, making sure they slid easily on the slippery plastic surface of the bats, gently –squeezed is not quite the right word–”encouraged” them to be oval as well.
Once this oval sets up, you can set it on the (now)oval disc base and trace around the inside. Score outside that line, then turn it over using a second bat and score the underside of the base of the wall, wet it (I used magic water) and then set that on top of the scored disc base to join wall to it, trimming off any excess on the outside and sealing it by going over it with a soft rib- you can also use the soft rib to give a curve to the edge of the base.
Once this is sufficiently set up- wet-leather hard, you can turn it upside down on top of your slab and again trace the oval (the outside this time) to cut a lid. Add handles to the sides of this casserole if you like and drape the now oval slab inside the opening of the top- separated by a piece of plastic.
Once the lid is medium leather hard- holding its curved shape, you can refine the edge so it fits precisely inside the gallery and then add a handle to it.
At this point, before it is any drier, I coat the entire thing in black slip. When the slip is also leather dry, I carve.
These had a lot of surface area and the carving took a considerable amount of time. Of the 4 I did, 2 came out beautifully, the lid of the smallest one warped in the glaze firing but it’s the 4th casserole I want to tell you about.
The last was quite nice but as it dried (and I dry them slowly under a loose cover of dry-cleaning plastic) the walls were proportionally too thick compared to the floor and they pulled away leaving the floor cracked on the sides. I discovered this when the pot was pretty much bone dry.
There was really no way to realistically repair it- especially since the entire outside surface had been delicately carved. I certainly could not spray it down- the slip design would have run and been destroyed. I was pretty upset about this until Dave Trost, a fellow teacher at Lill, told me about his method of re-wetting.
He told me to take one of the slabs of plaster –they have many at Lill for drying slurry and clay scraps- they are about and inch and a half thick; and to soak it in water until no more bubbles rose off its surface. Then to take my pot and set it on the plaster and wrap the whole thing tightly and let it sit.
Well, I had nothing to lose –I had already invested at least 4 hours in the pot-so I did just as Dave suggested and then double wrapped it in plastic and let it sit on the shelf for at least two weeks maybe more.
When I finally got back to it, the clay was back to a pliable leather hard consistency!! I was able to push the walls back in, reinforce the bottom and repair it.
Then to slow down the drying of the floor this time- to keep it a little more pliable should the walls pull on it as they were drying- I waxed the entire bottom inside and out and then waxed all the handle joins just to be on the safe side and set the piece to dry lightly covered in plastic again. This time the piece made it to the bone-dry stage and is being bisked as I write this. I will keep you posted.
Sadly, I did not take photos during construction. If I make more (and these were popular) I will post them.
Addendum: Okay, the casserole made it safely through the bisk, I glazed it and waited on pins and needles to see if it would split apart in the glaze firing and it did NOT! It came through intact with a few cosmetic cracks but is fully functional! Here are some photos:
Interior: there are reflections that look like cracks but really, the whole thing held together perfectly!
Posted 1 year, 8 months ago at 1:36 pm. 6 comments
First Time Hand Building
Class 1 Double Pinch Pots
I may have written about double pinch pots in the past- but this is for a first time hand-building class.
I did not know what level students would be at so I decided to start with the most basic skill. Yet double pinch pots can take you just about anywhere as evinced by the work my wonderful class made that day.
It is a pretty straight forward process; you start with two balls of clay of roughly equal size and make them both into pinch pots.
A really good tip here is to keep the rim thick by not squeezing it directly. It works quite well to squeeze below it.
After the pots are as evenly thin as you are able to make them, try them out “mouth to mouth” and see if they are the shape and size you need.
You can add a coil or two to one or both of them to make a larger hollow form. Eventually you will need to join them to each other.
Or not. Matthew decided not to join his two pots together and so he has a terrific lidded jar.
If you find it is collapsing, you can stuff newspaper inside. The paper will burn out in the kiln.
Once it is completely sealed and the air is trapped inside, you can roll it on the table almost as if it were a solid piece of clay to smooth it and shape it. Then parts may be added
The shape doesn’t even have to be round. Nan made a turtle!
But if you decide to make a little sculpture like that or like Randy’s Owl here-
make sure you put a discreet hole in it somewhere so the air and moisture can escape and not blow up your piece!
If you decide to make a piggy bank like Kathryn’s
(this pig is clearly worried by the economic situation!)
or a chicken bank like Pam’s
or a Monkey jug like mine,
then the openings are built into the form and no little hole is needed.
The possibilities are endless- here are two pieces I’ve made in the past: a jar and a teapot.
What is good about this form is that it is inherently strong, the form lends itself to so many possibilities and beginners are able to make something that has quite a bit of volume.
Posted 2 years, 1 month ago at 4:20 pm. 3 comments
I recently taught a workshop as a brief introduction to Majolica.
I used the word “creamy” very frequently. It really is the best word to describe the basic white glaze that defines the category and gives Majolica its distinctive look.
First of all let me say that most of what I know I learned from Kelly Kessler and I still find her work inspiring, thought provoking and beautiful.
I brought out some pieces by her,
two small boxes I’d bought in Italy, sitting next to an Angler Fish mug by Karin Kraemer
and a couple of old pieces of mine.
I wasn’t sure how long it had been since I really spent some time making Majolica work but the date on the bottom of the bowl was 1994!
Basically, Majolica was Europe’s response to Chinese Porcelain.
People were crazy for all that pristine white-ware coming out of China. This was eventually answered with a thick white glaze (made with tin)and colorful pigments that sink into its surface. This first began to happen during the renaissance in Italy so Italy is most famous for it’s Majolica but Spain, England and Mexico all have similar ceramic traditions.
Majolica, as it is practiced most commonly now is on terra cotta low fire clay which is dipped in or sprayed with a base coat of a creamy majolica glaze.
At Lill, we use a nice recipe from Linda Arbuckle (http://lindaarbuckle.com/index.html )and commercial pigments from Amaco™
After that dries, you can then apply your pattern or images. Some people draw very lightly on the surface with pencil- I’ve been known to use a highlighter even but for these I just had some sketches and applied it freehand. Good brushes are key. You need something that you can load up but will make a fine line. I like long thin brushes.
For the “sea weed” on the underside of my octopus bowl, I scratched through to thewhite but not down to the clay body.
Karin Kraemer uses this technique to good effect on her Angler fish mug. Also on her mug, you won’t see any of the white undercoat except for the belly of her fish. She painted the entire rest of the mug with a tomato red.
I also did a bit of scratching (sgraffito) on the octopus
Here it is fired. The main thing to know about majolica is that it’s not very forgiving of mistakes when one is painting on the colorful pigments.
You can see it is a lot more transparent- more than I wanted actually. Every brush mark shows so you really have to be careful how you apply the pigments- you can not just make an outline and daub it on to fill it in- it’s best to have some direction and grace in your application. Here is the underside:
This was fired at around cone 04. That is low fire and so the clay body won’t be as dense and therefore as strong as a cone 6 or 10 pot- but these pieces do hold up! Another student brought in commercially made terra cotta pieces: flower pots! and decorated those.
With Majolica the possibilities are nearly endless and it’s particularly great if you like bright colors.
But, as you can see in this Roberta Massuch piece, it can also be used to get a kind of pen and ink effect and it also doesn’t have to cover the entire piece. She’s used it selectively and contrasted it with texture on other parts of her pot.
This is terry’s test- she’s wanted to see how it works in dots!
I also copied one of my own pieces -what I call my “willow pattern”. Here it is before and after:
So there you have it, the very briefest of introductions to Majolica. What I like about it are the bright colors and the endless possibilities of surface decoration coupled with the near instant gratification of low-fire. This is not something that needs to be coddled along- you pop it in an electric kiln and voila! Something lovely, useful and sturdy.
If you want to look at more contemporary majolica work I suggest you poke around Arbuckle’s site and also that of Karen Kraemer or just google Majolica! I know there are countless more talented Majolica artists and you are welcome to put them in comments.
Posted 2 years, 3 months ago at 6:53 pm. Add a comment
I have to say, Garden Gnomes could easily fall into the “too cute” category but we had a blast in my Garden Gnome workshop.
My class was wonderful- I had at least two people who had never really done anything in clay before and they all came out great!
We had a very short discussion on what your standard gnome looks like and we did look at this book which may have had undue influence; but I stressed to everyone that the gnomes could look like anything, be any gender and wear any type of clothes. That said, I think we all liked the way the book (and example) looked. Perhaps because these are supposed to be Garden Gnomes, we wanted them to be recognized as such.
I started with the body being a double-pinchpot construction which turned out to be ideal for him. To make double pinch pots- you take two balls of clay roughly the same size make a sturdy pinch pot of each one- pinching below the rim so the rim stays thick and attaching them to each other, making sure to seal them completely so the air trapped inside keeps them from caving in when you roll them to smooth them and get the shape you want- I rolled mine along the table to get a “waist” . Then set him up on two sturdy legs that were hollowed-out cones.
the tips were bent over to make his feet. I put a flange on the top of the cones for ease and security of attachement. Here is the body on the legs
IMPORTANT: any trapped air needs a small hole to let it 0ut, we pierced all our sealed air traps after we were done.
I have a little neck knob there but it turned out I didn’t need it- we made the heads as a single pinch pot with maybe a coil or two added to get the height right. here is Shawna’s head with the beard on it- the beards were made using a garlic press. you just have to remember to press all the little hairs against the body so they don’t break off.
I foolishly put the head on next and the beard before painting slip on his jacket.
After that my students did it the right way, painting the coat before adding the head. We added a little skirt around most of them to make it look like a long coat, blending the top edege into the body .
To make the “stitches” I had brought a notched wheely tool that is often used in sewing. Note also that Shauna’s Gnome is wearing clogs.
Above, you can see Jennifer’s body and legs awaiting belt, head and arms. In the background, Rich’s body rests atop curly-toed boots and already has the belt.
Next we attached the heads- Krissy’s guy looks a little like the muppet version of Uncle Fester but later he got hair. He is also sporting a super-fashionable spotted belt.
The arms were pretty simple and most people chose to copy the pose in the book where he has them clasped behind his back. Here is one of my arms:Veronica put her Gnome’s arm to good use, bearing arms!check out his great ears too!
Belts were also added after painting the coat- we used slip for the colors since we will be high-firing these so they can be outside all year ‘round. What I’m missing are photos of how to make the hat. We just made thin slabs, rolled them up with a point at one end and cut away the rest- they are only one layer thick- we attached the edges to seal the hat and tried them on the gnomes- cutting off clay around the opening and shortening them until they fit.As soon as he’s fired, he’ll be ready to move into my garden!
Here are some more finished but unfired Gnomes:
Finally, here are some photos of the finished gnomes!
the hat color comes from Cohen’s Red glaze and the body is covered in clear. I left the face just raw, unglazed clay. The gnome on the right, above has no glaze on it anywhere.
And here’s my little guy
Posted 2 years, 10 months ago at 10:10 am. 5 comments
This week we first learned about trimming since we started with bowls last week.
It’s always a toss-up; bowls are easier to throw but you really should trim the bottoms. Cylinders are harder to throw but you can make them so that you don’t have to trim them.
The first step in trimming is often forgotten. You should take a really good look at the inside of your pot- I’m going to say bowl here because that’s what we’re trimming. Take a look at the shape of it, try to feel the thickness of the walls and bottom and then turn it over. The reason you are memorizing the shape as best you can is that you will be trying to make that same shape on the outside so that your bowl eventually has even walls and the foot should be like a little ring of clay sitting on the bottom of your bowl.
Next, center your upside down pot on the wheel head. Many potters can “tap” their bowl into the center- this is a huge mystery to me. I have never mastered this amazing skill.
Instead, I hold a pencil steady and where it makes a line, I slightly push until it’s even all the way around. Then I press clay down around the bowl taking great care not to deform the rim- press against the wheel head, not the rim.
Now tap on the bottom gently, Eventually you will be able to “read” the resonance as to how thick the bottom is.
Now look at the curve of your bowl. You want to continue that curve. you don’t want your foot to be so wide that the curve doesn’t have a chance to get started. You also don’t want your foot so narrow that you have a super-tippy bowl. There is a lot of wiggle room here- it ranges from mixing bowls that have nice wide sturdy feet, like sensible shoes all the way to little rice bowls which have delicate feet like party pumps that you can dance in.
Draw the circle that will be your foot on the bottom and then
choose a loop tool you are comfortable with and begin to carve away the rest – do not touch inside the lines that delineate the future foot! Remember you are trying to mimic the curve that is going on inside your bowl. this picture is a little confusing because I am holding two tools but only using the big loop tool at that moment. Sometimes I alternate between the two so often that I am holding them both while I trim. I am not using them both at once!
Once you have the shape you can use a wider loop tool or even a metal rib to smooth it and also use your fingers or back of your nail to smooth any rough edges on the foot- you don’t want to scratch your mother’s coffee table!
Cathryn did a great foot right away!
Adrienne did too- and it’s one of those delicate feet.
The two most common mistakes are not trimming enough and
trimming too much as one of the students found out to her chagrin:
Steve needed a foot thrown on so I demonstrated that- I did a post about that some time back….
Then we tackled cylinders. I started by making a pitcher with a curved floor (as opposed to a flat floor).
You start this like a bowl but then bring the walls straight up.
After you collar it in, use a tool handle to make a simple spout.
Cylinders, because of centrifugal force, inevitably want to get wider. it is helpful to collar in at the top after every pull as well as compressing the lip to keep it strong.
Next I did a vase with a flat bottom inside- The trick to vases is to get them as tall as you can and then instead of just choking it in at the top, you must coax it inwards, keeping the wall arched for good support- just like a cathedral!
the finished vase shapeLater, I will trim the bottom a little but I will trim it while it is right-side-up on the wheel so that I don’t have to use a chuck.
Lastly, the simplest and most realistic cylinder for beginners to make is a mug. A mug takes about 1lb to 1.25lbs of clay and is a great way to practice vertical pulls and later, attaching handles!
Special thanks to Melissa for taking the photos and also being pretty darned funny!
Posted 2 years, 10 months ago at 9:32 am. Add a comment
Slip ‘N’ Surfaces, Week 2
It was a very quiet class this week with just 3 of us but we had a pretty fun time with stencilling.
I did my popular “Birch Platter” demonstration.
I have posted this before but in case you haven’t seen it and don’t want to endlessly scroll backwards through this blog, I will post a quickie verion and also a photo of the ugliest “birch platter” I have ever seen.
The birch platter has the virtue of of having three layers of color with only two layers of slip.
I make a drop platter of stoneware (with iron) and immediately cover it with white slip so that the surfaces have plenty of time to bond. When that slip is not sticky to the touch, I tear newspaper into narrowish strips. You want to tear the strips, not cut them- they stick down better.These I spritz down with water and also the surface of the tray so that the newspaper adheres.
Next, paint another darker color over it- blue for example. Remember to paint in the same direction that the strips run or you will peel up the strips with your brush.
After the (blue) slip is no longer runny, you can pull up the strips.
Now you have a cool striped plate. You could stop there but I like to go in and make birch markings.
Here is a photo of real trees just to remind everyone.
I had a lot of fun this time because I decided the “devil’s hoofprints” (as one student told me) look like eyes and I put lots of faces in my trees for people to find.
My students seemed to really like this stencil idea and each went with it in their own direction and did a great job:
Jennifer went vertical- on mugs:
Richard did a bowl- and stenciled over slipped circles:
Kelly went non-representational with this pattern:
I also tried another thing- something I haven’t done before.
Because I suck at slip-trailing, I thought if I did it onto a plaster mold I might have more control- so I drizzled and painted on a vine. and then laid a slab over it and pressed it down with a brayer. when I pulled it off, the vine was inlaid into the clay but the leaves decided to stay on the plaster mold.
and here is the dish:
I would not call it a success but I think that anything that was a bit raised- that had any thickness to it, successfully inlaid. Possibly next time, I would spritz it before laying the slab on to facilitate bonding.
Lastly, I promised you a photo of the ugliest birch platter ever. A friend has this- I think it looks like a tree that maybe could be related to a birch caught smallpox or maybe just the victim of a tree surgery gone horribly awry.
So I hope to see you all next week!
Posted 2 years, 11 months ago at 5:39 pm. 2 comments
Once again I have the pleasure of teaching First Time Potter and it is always exciting to see people introduced to the joys and frustrations of throwing.
First of all let me say, my class ROCKS! Take a look at these pots from the first class! I am so proud!Aren’t they awesome?
Then, because I’ve posted before for FTP, I thought I’d do something slightly different – as I try to tell my students everything they need to know to make pottery, I realize there is simply too much information to absorb in the time allotted. And not only do they have to learn about the properties of clay, and the steps involved in throwing but also have to learn the systems at the studio. When to put what where! Each stage has a different location and system.
Since it is easy to become overwhelmed, I thought I would write up a list of
The Top Ten Things to Remember When Throwing
(for beginning students)
something like the Cliff Notes™ you would read when cramming for a test
If the test was making a pot that didn’t careen wildly around, laugh at you and collapse.
Really, I should have had the class vote on these but we don’t have the time! Maybe later they can tell me what was the most helpful.
So as a teaching tool and reminder, here is my ultra-subjective
Top Ten Things to Remember When Throwing
- 1. When centering, brace your arms- preferably your elbow against your hip; make your left forearm an “immovable force” (kind of like I’d hoped to parent my teen but failed.)
- 2 .Don’t forget that whenever the clay feels “sticky” to use a little more water! You can end up ripping half your clay off the hump and wondering what you did wrong.
- 3. Remove all the lumpy clay that is at the bottom against the wheel head. You won’t be able to center if your hand is bumping over that. BUT keep the bare wheel-head clean or you will sand off your skin. And. Bleed.
- 4 . After you open the clay, slow down! You will be unable to control the clay when it’s going too fast. (again the teen analogy springs to mind)
- 5. When you open, you set up your future pot- wide base or narrow base, flat floor inside for a cylinder or curved bottom for a bowl. DECIDE NOW.
- 6. Always always always triangulate! Brace your arms, connect your hands! If they are just floating out there you can knock your pot off center.
- 7. When you do a pull, make sure your fingers are directly across from each other. The entire pot should pass through that little space between your fingertips. It’s a zen thing. And try to throw from your wrists, not your shoulders (I know, this should be a separate tip- just count it as a bonus and be grateful, okay?)
- 8. Go on and off the clay in slooow motion. If you remove your hands abruptly, it will throw the pot off. You are Isadora Duncan but without the scarf- because you know what happens with scarves and wheels.
- 9. You can use a rib to compress the sides and remove some moisture. This could extend your throwing time. (If you use a metal rib, it could extend your time in the ER getting stitches. Remember, the clay wants to take your tools from you and hurt you with them.)
- 10. When wiring off the pot, stretch the wire very tightly and push down against the wheel head. The wire’s inclination is to rise up as it encounters resistance; (TEEN!) if it does this, it can cut a hole in the bottom of your pot. Then you have a flower pot. Every Time.
Okay ! So I hope these are helpful and I look forward to my next class!
Posted 2 years, 11 months ago at 6:38 pm. 6 comments
I am teaching a 4 week class this June called Slip ‘n’ Surfaces.
I have a lovely group of students and I’m really excited about teaching surface decorating techniques.
This first class we started out discussing slips. What is slip exactly?
The slip at Lill and in many places is simply liquid porcelain with pigment in it. Here we use Mason stains which are very dependable. The key to using slip well is to understand its properties. Because it is clay, it will not run or flux as glaze does and so you get great sharp details and precision but it does shrink as it dries. So you must apply it in time for it to bond to the surface of your clay and for them to shrink together. You have a a much bigger window of opportunity when applying slip to porcelain than to stoneware because porcelain and stoneware have different rates of shrinkage.
I gave a demo of my favorite texture and color technique- what I call the Eric Jensen technique- I’ve posted about it before so I will be very brief in this description:
Start with a thick pad of clay- at least an inch thick, spread slip on it and then “dry out” the slip with sheets of newspaper.
Once the slip is “dry” (you can touch it without it sticking to your hand- it’s a kind of a leather feel to it) then you can add a second slip or stamp it or even draw in it. If you add more slip, you must dry it out again and then you can begin to throw the slab out.You can put two colors down with out drying in between but they lose their definition and blend as above.
The key to this stage is that you must keep the slip side up while you are throwing the slab. Because you’ve dried the slip, it will break up instead of stretching with the clay and you get a great texture. If you’ve incised lines in it, the surface tends to break along those lines.the line around the perimeter of this slab was made with a spiky wheel normally used for patterns in sewing.
Then I took that piece and put it in a mold or “drop mold” so named because to settle the clay into it, you drop it once or more.
This is a different slab and you can see it tore where the clay was uneven or had air bubbles.
To adapt to the shape of the slab, I took some extra clay and built up part of the mold. Next week I’ll put little legs on this tray.
Next I demonstrated painting and sponging on slip by doing some of these summer trees. A sponge with a rough surface is excellent to get the slip applied so it emulates the transparency and distribution of leaves.
I then go in and clean up the trees with a stick and loop tools as I have more control with those than the brush or sponge.
This is almost the finished product.
Lastly, I did a brief demonstration of what I do the most, cover the surface with black slip, draw an image with a nice wooden stylus (you can see some of my sticks in the upper left)
and then carve away negative spaces with a fine loop tool.(and here you can see some of my fine loop tools)
Today I went back to my leather hard pieces and used a sure form to finish the edges. This is a tool often used for plaster and can be found in most hardware stores.It’s a very handy tool!
Posted 2 years, 11 months ago at 6:23 pm. 5 comments
I did a workshop on colanders and strainers a couple weeks ago
I thought I’d just comment on some of the things one needs to remember when making these thankless little gems.
Why do I call them thankless? Well, you take a perfectly good bowl with a nice tall foot and then proceed to work on it some more- adding handles, poking holes in it and cutting at the foot- now it leaks!
Of course if you’re me, you STILL have to add slip and carve that!
Okay, so you’ve got your bowl, be it thrown or hand-built and if you are making a hand-built one, I recommend putting it over a slump mold so you can work on the outside of it easily since that is where you’ll be doing the most work.
Things to think about:
How do you want to use this strainer?
Will you want a low bowl or high sided one?
Do you want holes all over or just at the bottom? What pattern would you like?
Will you be leaving the food in there (more decorative) or is this strictly utilitarian?
After your bowl is ready, I would start by adding handles or knobs- really, these small bowls don’t need them- but it makes the statement that these are, in fact, little strainers and not bowls. It makes them easy to pick out and to grasp.
Having handles on the small bowls is alluding to the need for handles on their cousins, the large, full size colanders that do need something to grab onto as you use them. You also might want to think about if you will be hanging them up- as they are so often wet and/or need to be within easy reach of the sink.
Next, I firmly believe the foot ring needs a place for the water to exit. If you are letting something drain and it is flush to the counter or table, the water will just stay sealed inside the foot ring. There must be some way for the air and water to circulate. I took a large round plastic tube that a tool came in, and used it to make the outline in the clay of the foot and then cut it out and smoothed it.
Another pretty and easy solution, is to make the whole bottom round and add little legs.
The final step is to add the holes. You could do handles last- it depends if you think you’ll bump the handles when you are putting in the holes.
I set out to make some berry bowls, so the majority of these had holes just in the bottom for aesthetic reasons.
I had a lot of fun picking patterns. You can make evenly spaced holes in a random pattern; but I liked the spiral I did.
You can also do a shapes of things like stars or circles,
an asterisk- with lines radiating outor
and I did this one as the lines of a leaf.
Poking the holes: your pot should be soft leather hard- it’s tricky because if it’s too soft, you risk deforming the pot and tearing it but I did mine in porcelain and with the tool I used, the underside kind of tore so it was really rough- although, again with Porcelain, I was able to go over it with a sponge until it was smooth again.
I think if your tool is sharp enough you needn’t have this problem.
This is ideal:and you can just go back after those harden a little and brush them off.
There are a variety of ways to make the holes. I recommend mapping out the holes with little dots from a pin tool or pencil then you can use a hollow tube (far right)
Left to right: this first tool would work better to enlarge a hole in hard-ish clay than make the opening; pin tool; engraving tool; triangular tipped tool (or use exacto); and a specialized hole-maker- note how it’s cut at an angle so you are less likely to crack your pot.
A tiny cookie cutter could make a pattern like this metal colander has:
There is such a thing as too small or too large a hole.
Too small an opening results in holes sealed with glaze
and too large lets food through and weakens your pot.
Of course the best part is using them!
Posted 3 years, 2 months ago at 12:19 pm. 3 comments