Tag Archives: yard art

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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New life for your cracked pottery

I heard the bowl break before I realized what happened. I was lifting a tile to put it up on a shelf; it slipped out of my fingers and crashed in the sink, smashing a bowl (no damage to the tile). Deb made that bowl and it was the one I liked the best. Darn. When it happened, I thought @#&%?!! I considered gluing it back together but thought ‘What can I do with a glued bowl?” A mug can be a pencil jar, but a bowl? Serendipity intervened today in the form of a lovely idea, however. I can still enjoy Deb’s bowl in a new incarnation. My neighbor told me about Maria’s yard a few years ago and I was reminded today. Maria, who has a ceramic studio in her garage, has lovely flower gardens into which she has placed broken and chipped pottery. They aren’t placed haphazardly…she’s put thought into the placement. So, Deb’s bowl will be reborn as yard art. Since I saw Maria’s pottery yard art, I’ve seen other examples. Sometimes I’ll find a yard that has a pretty tea cup placed in the ground at an angle. In some yards it stands alone, in others, someone’s placed a little plant inside and let it spread beyond the cup as ground cover. A charming idea, if done right. I can think of pieces I wish I’d kept so I could’ve used them this way… So, broken pottery can be decorative, can be used as plant pots, or, as shown in the photo below, they can be used for borders. Such a lovely idea…reminiscent of an English country garden.

Chipped plate border. Source: MJIphotos on Flickr

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