Friday, November 16, 2012

Tree Luminary and Process

Miracles never cease, I made something I said I was going to make instead of going off on another tangent. Here's a tree luminary complete with a star topper. Since I have star cutouts I didn't need to leave the top open for firing in the kiln.

I construct these pieces in a unique way. First I start at the bottom which eventually becomes the middle of the tree. As I get progressively taller and wider the clay being very moist has a tendency to be too soft to stand without slumping. Michele would be proud of me I used my hair dryer on the piece this time. It helped. Thanks Michele.

Here's what the inside of the piece looks like as I am constructing it. You can see all the layers overlapping one another.

Here I've flipped the piece over and started cutting out the stars to make the luminary. I double up the bottom to be sure it's sturdy enough to hold all the weight of the piece.This piece is about 17 inches tall so there is a lot of wet flexible clay which needs to firm up before it's stable enough to hold more clay weight..

Here I'm mixing up some green stained slip. The green I had was darker than I wanted so I added more slip to thin out the color. Most times I don't measure these stain ingredients, I go by eye for the color. Since I'm making one of a kind pieces the color doesn't have to match. If I needed to make pieces to match I could measure by volume and be assured of similar results.

Here's the luminary tree after I've hand brushed the green slip around the piece. With the cutout stars I couldn't pour the slip over the top and I didn't want green on the inside of the stars to I had to be careful applying the green slip.

For the bands of snow I thought the white stoneware slip wouldn't be white enough. I remembered I had some white extender stain so I mixed up a small batch. I was going to apply the white stained slip with wide mouthed applicator but the slip was too thick. I thinned it out and it was too thin.  So I hand brushed it around the piece. I wanted the white slip to be thick like drifts of snow. I may go back tomorrow and apply more slip but maybe not. I'm afraid if I apply too many layers it may not bond to the previous layer and flake off. I may leave well enough alone. Still in the back of my mind I'm wondering how to make a much thicker slip? Some slip with some volume that's stays put on this vertical surface? What do you think?

Now the piece is drying and I'll make a plate for underneath so a candle can be placed inside. I can't wait to see how this one looks with the lights turned off. I wish I could work faster on these, I think a grouping of these luminary trees would be wonderful in graduated sizes. Of course if I wasn't making it in layers it would be quicker, but then it wouldn't be as detailed as this one. This post is part of Artists in Blogland show and tell Saturday. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.


  1. Looks great, glad the hair dryer helped.

  2. I love it, and your attention to detail is great. Hope to see it when it's fired!

  3. Love it and I especially like the star cut outs! Will be so pretty when it's finished and lit up. Good to be back here after a 2 month recovery from my eye surgery. Thanks so much for stopping by and for all of your lovely comments!

  4. I like this one.Very "Folk Art"

  5. looking good! hairdryers are good but if you need something stronger a heat gun from the hardware store is great!

  6. Hi Michele, thanks, yeah it was getting tiresome waiting for it to firm up. Ha.

    Hi Barbara, thanks, I hope that white snow looks white after firing.

    Hi Marguerite, thanks, so glad you are doing better. I can't wait to put a candle in this one.

    Hi Dennis, thanks, I know those ceramic trees are done so much but these just sort of had to be made. hopefully mine is unique enough not to look kitsch.

    Hi Ms. Sparrow, thanks, yes and not tree would have to be cut down.

    Hi Anna, thanks, I'd be afraid I'd light something on fire with a heat gun, or my cat might get too close or I'd over do it and it would crack. the dryer wasn't too bad to use, it has two settings, warm and hot and the hot is pretty hot.


  7. I was just talking with my daughter the other day about your blog. She is in a ceramics class as a senior and it's weighs my heart to think she'll be leaving a medium that she loves so much. Dropped by through AiBL!

  8. I love these they are so pretty. I think they would look fabulous grouped together in three different sizes with the candles burning inside - Christmas magic :)

    Sarah @ A Cat-Like Curiosity

  9. Hi Mary, thanks, why does she have to leave it, can't she get a small kiln and do hand building at home? You can check craiglist for used equipment.

    Hi Sarah, thanks, Christmas magic indeed, I am usually bah humbug but for some reason not this years. Ha.

  10. This is really beautiful, love the green of the tree too. I've visiting from Artists in Blogland.

  11. Wow Linda this is great. I really like how the white turned out! I bet it looks great lit up. xox

  12. Hi Christine, thanks, so far it is drying nicely in the cabinet, we shall see.

    Hi Connie, thanks, I hope that white is nice and crisp after firing, we shall see.


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