Thursday, December 10, 2009

Serious and Silly

When I'm inspired to make something in clay it's really serious to me. By serious I mean I've had an artistic feeling or vision or inspiration I am working out in the clay. Perhaps you recall the moon craters I am trying to recreate in this pinched bowl. I changed the design for the slip and glaze application for this pinch bowl and I applied the slip today.

The photo is taken facing down, but the bowl opens out like a large trumpet, so when it is sitting on a table the inside can be seen easily from a sitting position. When I fire the piece in the final firing I will apply the glaze in either four triangles or four bands in the same direction as the slip. It's hard to picture what it will look like in my mind's eye because my sketches are on white paper and the background color of the clay is dark and will fire black. I'll leave plain clay between the glazed sections as contrast. I really hope the glaze will bubble up again and make the same raised dots. If this works out I'll be really happy.

This is a flat coiled bowl, front and reverse, I applied slip to today. I'm not sure I like the way the slip looks. It's supposed to be mountains and in my mind I wanted the slip to be solid white and contrast with the black clay. I've set the piece aside to think about it for a while. I can always paint more slip and make it more solid or scrape it all off and start over again.

These are the two hump mold bowls I made last week. They finally dried enough to apply the slip. Originally I was going to fill the inside of the bowl with leaves and have a cat peaking through the leaves like the photo I took of Bones from my RV. I could only find my blue, green and black mason stains, so I was limited to those colors and decided to wait on the cat peaking from behind the leaves.

The previous pieces are what I call my serious pieces and these two are the silly ones. I have another couple of sketches I was going to use for these two plates, but again the color of slip I wanted to use I couldn't find. Also for some reason I wasn't in the mood to draw something serious on these plates. I have lots of these cat drawings in my sketch book. The cats are doodles I draw all the time. I decided to try a couple of my cat sketches on these plates with black colored slip.

My ink and pencil sketches are much better than my slip sketches. I wish the lines were thinner and more like my sketch book drawings. I need a thinner paint brush or thinner slip or perhaps just stain and water. I also need a lot more practice. For some reason I thought it would be fun to make something silly with clay. I think I need to push myself to let more silly into my life to balance out the serious. What do you think? Do you make things in clay just for the humor or fun of it? Gary said he liked my bowls much better than the plates. I guess that's his polite way of saying he doesn't like my cats. He hasn't seen the moon crater bowl or the mountain bowl I'll see what he says when he gets back this evening.


  1. I think your cats are fun! I find it difficult to be carefree in my work. I tend to live my life with childish enthusiasm, but when it comes to making pottery, I am way too serious. I think opening up and feeling free to play is important and leads to artistic discoveries - it is what makes your work wonderfully unique. Thank you for directing me to your posts on your barrel firings - very inspirational and helpful! The colors variations you obtained are gorgeous. Did you cover your pieces with terra sigillata and/or burnish them before firing?

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  3. I love the first piece especially.
    The desgin looks like a cosmic motif. The second one is lovely too. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Hi Jewels, thanks so much. I want to include some fun pieces as I go along as I tend to be much too serious with a lot of things in life including clay. I didn't use any terra sig. Most of the posts were pinched and I burnished them with the back of a metal spoon to smooth out my finger marks. I also used some aluminum foil saggers for one of the firings and some salt soaked burlap for another. check the comments as well as the posts I think I go into it all there. I can't wait to move and do more of these. Other than the bisque, the results are almost instantaneous and so it is so much fun. I think a group firing would be fun too. I also want to do a pit firing and some smoke firings. Tonight I picked up a book about Maria Martinez and it goes into great detail about how she fired her pieces on a funeral pyre type of stand and used cow patties - that will be on my agenda in the future too.

    Hi Sapphire, thanks so much. The first one is an experiment with that glaze that bubbled up, but I want to do more of this combination of pattern. I really like the contrast between black clay and white slip. I also want to try some more of the neriage with some of these clays and some red and perhaps yellow clays if I can get them. So many ideas and so little time.

  5. I like how it looks like you're always trying something new. I've been checking back lots to find out where the next part of your journey is. Hope it's warmer there than here in Charlotte: 25 or so tonight. peace-

  6. Hi Amy, thanks I am always trying something new one of these days I'll stick to the same thing and perfect it hopefully. I should be visiting out your way come January. It's warmed up a bit here, but is raining cats and dogs today, so more is probably on its way to you. Stay warm.

  7. I love the bowls with the leaves. Just beautiful.

  8. Hi Cindy, thanks, I hope my transparent glaze does ok on them since it is a new clay for me; we shall see. they didn't have any Nara 5 porcelain or Bmix 5 so I got texas white.

  9. I really like the cat plates, they are whimsical and well drawn. They have a storybook quality - you should do a series of these. Don't give up! I've been wanting to explore colored slip and just need the time to practice a bit but have used watered down stain with a fine paintbrush which works pretty well. Please post the final pics when they are glazed and fired.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment