Tag Archives: How-to

A lovely autumn wind chime you can make yourself!

In September, I posted this video an inspiration for fall projects. That was before the leaves had changed color and fallen. It seems like a good idea to show you again at the height of the season! For those of you who never saw my wordpress.com site, this video will be a lovely new experience for you! If you want to make something like this for yourself, follow these instructions… Gather leaves, roll out a thin slab, places the leaves on it, then, using a rolling pin, press the leaves down into the clay. Make sure you get the outline and veins. Cut out, make a hole in each, then dry flat (between plaster board). Decorate as you’d like after they’re bisqued, but remember glaze will make the leaves heavier. How about stains or thin washes of underglaze? Find nice sticks for a cross piece, get some heavy gauge fishing line or twine and there you have it! A big thank you to Wind and Weather for the idea… Your wind chimes are magical…

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Discovery / Science Channel’s “How It’s Made” Ceramic Tiles

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Cheery ceramic toadstools

Jhansonxi mushroom 20090809-2They may not be perfect but I love them! It seems like I made this set of ceramic toadstools eons ago and they were waiting for me when I arrived at the Open Studio on Tuesday. I was quite busy that day and didn’t have a chance to really appreciate them. They look like something from a Dr. Seuss book, bright, cheerful and wacky. I am not sure why, but I’ve been struck by mushroom mania. So far, I have made three types for my yard, a giant Amanita muscaria, straight from Alice in Wonderland, a set of three chanterelle sculptures glazed in Electric Shino and now these, a graduated set of toadstools.  They are made of white clay with Speedball underglazes and Ron Roy clear. Lime green, lemon yellow, and purple. For added interest, I made raised dots on each mushroom cap. I wanted something that would

really stand out and Pauline gave me a good tip.  Following her suggestion,  I mixed colored underglazes and slips and added about eight grains of Epsom salts, which thickened it. Afterwards, I applied it with a squeeze bulb.  The dots turned out splendidly and I will definitely use this technique again. The only problem I had was with the “ stems.” I may have used too many coats of underglaze or made each coat too thick, or added new coats to others that were too dry because the glazes shivered. Shivering is a glaze defect characterized by glaze peeling away from the clay body. I considered making new stems, but the fact is, they act as stakes, so the areas that are affected will actually end up being in the ground for the most part. Because of that, though, I think I will seal those parts first. A bit of kiln shelf or post stuck to the biggest  stem, so I will use a hack saw on it. So, not perfect but still loveable!

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Open Studio Update

Upper half: Cottage White base; Red Chrome berry, Oribe Green vine/leaf. Coverage uneven, dilution okay.

Today was an instructive day, a bit difficult, but interesting. I’m struggling with glaze samples. Achieving a specific effect can take a lot of time, energy, and experimentation. That bowl or plate you see in the gift shop or gallery? It can represent oodles of time spent by the artisan trying to get the right look (or having a happy accident). Right now, I am trying to achieve a particular effect on a tile: diluted and watercolory effect. But, at the moment, I feel like I’m trying to reinvent the wheel because it’s taking a heck of a lot of time. First, I’m using a creamy white matte base,  Cottage White glaze. The ‘task’ is to with find the right way to color the decorations: vines, leaves, and berries. I want the colors to be realistic but understated and, to whit, and am working with  colored and clear glazes and colored underglazes. I thought it would be easier to create the look I want, so I’d been using actual tiles

(Dim photo; not true color.) Undiluted Pine Green and Purple underglaze. Too bold and dark, needs softening.

for glaze samples, but that’s been a wasteful approach. Today, I was forced to be realistic because, once again, the new glaze sample wasn’t what I wanted. Instead, I used a vessel that had warped when bisqued and it had a big surface area to play around on. Finished it in the nick of time and it’s being fired right now. Fingers crossed! Today’s approach: mixing amounts of Cottage White glaze with smaller amounts of select glazes and underglazes, then painting it over a surface glazed in Cottage White. By doing this, I’m trying to prevent the color from absorbing into the white glaze underneath, which makes the color grainy, like in the last photo shown at the bottom. It’s an interesting process. If I were to take up some water colors and brush, I could paint it exactly the way I want it to turn out… But ceramics doesn’t work that way. =/ So, I toil, I toil. Along the way, I’d better sit down and turn out a few more tiles

Sections have different percentages of diluted Pine Green and Red underglazes. Underglazes soaked into the Cottage White glaze underneath, causing a grainy look.

because I know that one fine day the effort will have been worth it and I’ll be able to replicate it. Soft colors, but not pastels…lovely colors against a soft, creamy background. It’s something sweet and decorative to put on your wall, preferably where you spend down time. When you’re reading a book, or sipping tea, you might glance over and see it. It holds your gaze because it’s enigmatic. As you study it, time shifts, you float through the keyhole and into the land of your daydreams…. Figuratively, it is something much different, as it is meant for women who enjoy life’s mysteries and are aware of them. A key can open your dreams, can give you leave see new options in your life. A key in a door unlocks…. Back to reality: I so hope the new glaze samples unlock the mystery of how to decorate these little guys!




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