Monday, February 2, 2009

Pinch Me, I'm Dreaming !

Pinch me, I'm dreaming ! As I'm writing this I can feel what it's like to pinch the clay. Of all the techniques I utilize in working with clay, pinching puts me in a dream-like state. I can let my mind wander while pinching the clay and I love it. Not that I can't with other techniques, but with pinching I feel I'm really connecting to the clay. It's the closest my mind comes to touching the clay through my hands. With other methods I may use a cutting tool, perhaps a rolling pin, a sculpting tool, a slab roller, a drape mold, but with pinching my fingers are actually forming the clay and it's a direct connection to my mind's eye. I love how the multiple glazes I used, ran down the pinched sculpture above.

Our college studio seems (is) really crowded this semester. It's always crowded at the beginning of each semester before some students decide to drop class. But this semester it is particularly crowded because half of the classes were dropped. There are two long tables and they are filled with those working on sculptures. Backed up to those tables is the wedging table with only a small space around it. Next are two rows of wheels and on the other side of the classroom is the jewelry section with metal tables. I pinched the two bowls above from Soldate 60 stoneware clay the first day of class and now they're in a cabinet drying.

Previous semesters I got to the classroom early and had several projects going at once. I was able to spread out before anyone got to class. This semester we don't have access to the classroom except during class time, so I've had to change my working habits and adapt to my surroundings. I've chosen to work in the jewelry section of the classroom because I can work at the end of the table without someone bumping my elbows. It's also less noisy in that corner of the classroom. Above is a stoneware pinched paperweight I made and glazed with Tom Coleman's green to black satin matt glaze, Cone 10 reduction.

Notice the pinch pots above are sitting on a metal table? That's the jewelry table. The first day I was pinching a few pots and I noticed metal flakes in the clay. Oops! Now I'm sure to wipe down the table real well and I work on a bat. Since I have about a two foot square section to work in, I thought pinch pots would be the perfect solution to the limited space. My goal is to concentrate on making pinch pots of all types and sizes this semester and see where this takes me. I made a very rough texture on the little red pinch pot below. Anyway, if you happen to visit the classroom studio some evening and I don't glance up or notice you, just Pinch Me, I'm Dreaming !



  1. I love making pinch pots and have some from way back that I absolutely love. Maybe one day I will get around to photographing them.

    I agree that pinching really get you in touch with the clay (no pun intended). You can feel just how far you can stretch it and you can let it take on wonderful texture, or gently smooth it as you go along. I really enjoy the process.

  2. making pinch pots is hard! yours look good! it's too bad the classes are so crowed (good that they are popular!), but is also sad that you don't have access to the room after hours, because that's always the best time to spread out :o( It think it's hard to work in clay without any elbow room.

  3. that glaze stuff is looking great!

  4. Your pinch pots definitely put mine to shame! I feel the way you do while pinching when I'm at the wheel. Different strokes ;)

  5. Hi Jerry, I'd love to see your pinch pots posted on your blog. I'll bet they are beautiful.

    Hi Cindy, folks are having to cinch up their belts in more ways than one right now. I have a hard time working in close quarters, but I am trying to adapt and see where it takes me.

    Hi Gary, I am hoping to have a whole group of pinch pots to try some more glazing techniques this semester too, thanks.

    Hi Ben, thank you so much. My teacher was saying pinch pots are deceptively simple looking but that they are really very complicate vessels.

    Our first semester we saw a Marie video which I didn't really know enough to appreciate fully at the time. I think I will go back to U tube and see if there are any videos I can watch about pinching clay techniques; I could use some help. My aim is to make some pinched yunomi and tea bowls, but so far I haven't gotten the clay to do what I intend. We shall see.

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  7. Oops I pressedd the comment button twice and got two comments for the price of one. He he.

  8. I love making pinch pots, but don't do it nearly often enough. I should do it while watching tv or something....

    Bummer about the crowded class too. I remember those days of being in class with full tables.

    Your pinch pots are awesome too!

  9. Pinch pots can be so meditative. I don't always have the patience that is required. I made some a few summers ago. After I got the basic shape out of pretty groggy clay, I only pushed from the inside, letting the clay kind of separate and make fissures on the outside. The texture was wonderfully primitive. I smoothed the top edges and then raku fired them. Unfortunately, that part was not so successful so someday I will try more.
    I especially like the shape of your pots with the narrow feet.

  10. I really like these pinch pots, especially the two bowls in the second pic. Hope to see them finished, with glaze on them.

  11. p.s... just read the comment you left on my blog. Becky says that the wax in the bottle in the pic works very well when applying it after the barrel firing. She knows way more about it... but it really brings out the color of the piece.

  12. Hi Cynthia, thanks so much. That's a really good idea making a pinch pot while watching TV of some such as it really isn't messy and only small bit of clay is needed. I am still not able to make the shape I want. Once I can do that, then I plan on moving up to larger and more asymetrical shapes.

    Thanks Barbara, I have never tried raku, but I have heard it can be unforgiving with some types of clay. Those particular pinch pots are the ones I was trying to make more even from top to bottom - for some reason I just can't accomplish that, perhaps tomorrow.

    Thanks Amy, I was actually thinking I'll make a few more of that shape and put some of them in the barrel firing.

    Oh boy Amy, I've really got to get busy and get enough stuff to fire in the barrel, the weather is already warming up here and I have had to do a lot of pruning before everything buds out and it is taking much longer than I expected. I'll have to get some of that wax. I wonder if folks ever use bees wax? I have a bee keeper near me. I'll have to do some research on that too.

  13. Barbara...that's exactly how I love to do my pinch pots. I have also started with a ball of clay wrapped in either a slab or strips of different colored clay and that gives a great effect. A nice terra sig on the outside with either a luster or white crackle on the inside. Super yummy! Good luck on getting better results.

  14. Hi Jerry, Some of the techniques you have mentioned here are ones I would love to try. I was just thinking about adding some strips of colored clay to one of my pinch pots last night (having recently seen that technique demonstrated on Ceramic Arts Daily), so glad you mentioned it here. I have yet to try terra sig either, I've really got to make some, then when the inspiraiton hits me I will have some made up. Finally lusters is something I hope to utilize in some of my work one of these days - I would really like to add some to some of the wall hangings I am doing. So many things to try in clay and not enough time to do them all.

    Hi Barbara, after Jerry's comment above, I was re-reading how you made your pinch pots with the exterior fissures, I might try some type of exterior texturing on a few pinch pots and see if those would fire ok in my barrel firing. I was thinking I could rub some copper or RIO wash into the crevices and see if that would enhance the crevice during firing. Thanks so much for sharing the description of your pinch pots.

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