Friday, September 10, 2010

Tattered and Scattered

One day I took a twenty minute walk around our yard and found lots to see. We finally found a motorhome for our trip to North Carolina. The motorhome has a few issues, but Gary's madly working on those. After North Carolina we'll head up to the Eastern coast for a while. Notice I never removed the title in my blog header? I guess I'll be the traveling potter again. Gary was cleaning out the cabinets in the motorhome and found some old lace doilies.

All I have is black sculpture clay so I impressed a slab of black clay with the lace and made this tattered lace bowl. The bowl is about 16 inches wide and 5 inches deep. What am I doing making functional pieces with non functional clay? The only clay I have is this cassius basaltic so that's what I used. I really have to go get more clay tomorrow. I like how the green and blue slip looks on the black clay. I pinched and ripped off the rim like tattered lace.

I've been wondering how to denote the decorative purpose of pieces I make. I thought about writing in white slip on the bottom, "Not Food Safe, Decorative Only". A label would fall off. That's a bunch of words to squeeze on the bottom of a piece. Maybe just "Decorative Use Only". I could have a rubber stamp made and dip it in white slip and stamp the bottom. What do you think?

I may have enough pieces of this black sculpture clay to do a firing. If I don't glaze them I was thinking to myself, what's the sense of firing twice, why not do a single fire electric. Do you single fire? If so what program do you use? How slow do you bring it up? This cassius basaltic clay can be touchy and is best only up to Cone 4.

In other news I'm thinking of doing a barrel firing and putting a couple of of my bag forms in the firing. Kind of risky since they are open forms and rather delicate in nature, but the results might be nice and then I don't have to worry about getting stilts for them and grinding the stilt marks off.

When I left California I left all my barrel firing ingredients there. I had hardwood, softwood, bags of rice hulls, straw bales, barrels of sawdust, and plenty of barrels for firing. There just wasn't room for all that in our treasure bus. Besides four legged critters might have taken up residence in the bus. Now I'm scrounging for supplies again.

Oh, I found out I can get rice hulls at a beer making supply. I want to burn rice hulls to make rice hull ash to use in some glazes. My projects are a bit scattered, but they'll all come together eventually. Comments and suggestions are welcome.


  1. Those are beautiful photographs Linda. I like the idea of taking a camera out for a little expedition around one's own back yard. It is amazing the interesting and beautiful things that can often be found there..., if only we really look! It may just be the pattern of shadow on a concrete path, or something really small.., like lichen, but it can be beautiful never-the-less. I do like your "tattered lace bowl" and the way the design is at an angle across the bowl, rather than being centered.

    I have done some once fired work in my electric kiln, and all went well. I just treat it like I would a bisque firing, but then continue up to my glaze firing temperature! If your clay has a lot of impurities in it, it would probably pay to fire quite slowly to bisque temperature so that any gasses can have time to leave the clay before the glaze seals up the surface. Some potters actually put a short soaking period into the firing at about 800 - 900 degrees Centigrade (1472 - 1652 F), just to make sure that gasses do have time to leave the clay.

  2. Hi Peter, thanks, yes sometimes the smallest thing is so intriguing in the garden, like you say lichen or a rock or anything. Thanks for the info on firing. I remember hearing something about 600 degrees being critical too. the temps you mention are they the time when the gases escape? this clay does have lots of impurities in it even though it is a prepared clay. It's times like these that I wish I had a tiny test kiln, I keep looking for a used one but none to turn up yet. Oh well nothing ventured nothing gained.

    This site has a discussion group with people who fire once. They may have quite a bit of information you could use... Leave a message for George Lewter, he started the site, and does single firing almost exclusively.

  4. Good idea to label(no suggestions how) for everything I have ever bought second hand, has no label and I have to assume it is not food safe.
    So glad you found your mobile home for NC. I'm sure Gary will whip it into shape.

  5. Before bisque you can add a paint brush swab of slip on the bottom of your pieces and scratch through the slip "Not Food Safe" -- rub off the knubbies when it dries and fire as usual. (I use a black colored slip on my red clay - but any color would do.)
    I love the lace plate --
    And how long will yall be traveling this time?

  6. that is what you will see here- not food safe.
    In the 60's the FDA came here and told the potters to get the lead out.
    You can use lead still but you must mark the work- not food safe.
    Love those photos and good luck with the whipping!

  7. Hi Robert, thanks so much, I'll post on the sight, just joined so didn't even think of it.

    Hi Patti, thanks, I have mostly bought vases second hand in the past so never worried about food safe, but this big bowl would have to be labeled.

    Hi Judy, thanks, what a great idea of scratching through the slip, I will have to try that. We will only be gone less than a month as fuel prices will unfortunately curtail our wanderlust.

    Hi Meredith, thanks, I have never seen a pot labeled by a potter with not food safe on it. out of curiosity, I hope to see one some day. Not food safe is even short to etch on the bottom of the pot.

  8. I've seen some raku pieces marked for decorative use only. I don't remember the artist but I do think it's a good idea.
    I'm looking forward to reading about your adventures on the road again.

  9. Hi Lori, thanks, if you remember who, please let me know. We might be driving by your place if you'll be there then, let me know if you accept studio visits.


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