I have decided to have a different clay body for each of the seasons. Winter is a very monochrome season so I want to use this black clay and then use white glazes or slips to decorate. It has been a while since I have been throwing large forms on the wheel so I decided to try this new clay and get a feel of how it works on the wheel. I found that it is a nice clay to work with, there are small pieces of grog in it to give it some grip and structure and I managed to throw these forms.
After discussing the forms with Dave he brought to my attention that I need to stop bringing the tops in as it looks like it is unfinished and there should be a top on it, so that is something that I will be working on from now on. I will also be working in my sketch book to develop a form that is elegant and refined and that I will then be able to transfer my drawn designs into a 3D thrown vessel!! A lot of practice is going to be required!
Dave also pointed out that when I turn the forms it is leaving a different mark to the rest of the piece so I either burnish back the turned section or I turn the whole form to give an even surface finish. I like the finish that turning gives with this clay (other clays might be different so I will have to test them individually) so I plan to turn the whole form.
I’ve also had difficulty with my thrown pieces. Currently I throw straight onto the wheel then wire it off and carefully lift the piece of the wheel. However, as carefully as I’ve been the pieces are still warping so from now on I will throw onto bats to prevent this distortion.
Further thoughts on my winter designs:-
Currently my winter designs consist of black clay and white slips or glazes. I want to stick with the monochrome look however winter is also a very dark time so I want to introduce some dark glazes of deep blues and blacks to create this effect.
I have been working on some winter glazes and firstly I’ve tried these deep dark blues.
They are my number 16 glaze with the following ingredients being added:-
z – cobalt oxide 2% + rutile 5%
y – nickel oxide 10% + rutile 5%
x – manganese 5% + rutile 5%
w – Cobalt Oxide 2% + manganese 5%
v – cobalt oxide 2% + titanium oxide 2%
Glaze number 16 + v – w – x – y – z in order.
So not all glazes have turned out as I had hoped they would. I’m now wondering why I used nickel on glaze y as nickel becomes green which is not what I wanted. W glaze (cobalt and manganese) has turned out great as its a real deep dark midnight blue, ideal for what I wanted to achieve. Glaze x is not successful for my winter colours but it’s a nice glaze and could be used for my summer glaze if I was to do beach colours for that season.
Further to wanting to add deep blue glazes I also want to add texture to the vessels. One of the pots I threw above wasn’t thrown very well and got even worse with my turning so I decided to add a bit of texture, or should I say tried! It wasn’t very successful as there wasn’t any panning or real though put into it.
I then started to look for inspiration for mark making. The following images are the bare branches of 4 different trees that I will try to replicate by cutting into the pots with the hope to glaze around them but leaving the marks glaze free to hopefully give black branch marks against a white background. Further experiments and tests will need to be done as I haven’t tried a technique like this before.
Another technique that I have tried is to add parian slip over black clay to a wheel thrown pot and while it is still on the wheel to stretch it from the inside to create a crackled effect. I have seen many people try this technique and they make it look very easy, its not!
The above image is my first attempt. I had left the clay too thick and also dried it too much and the edges broke up.
This second attempt was better. I achieved the crackled effect that I want however I need to be very careful with using the black clay. My hands are obviously very dirty and muddy looking and if any of this slip gets onto the white parian clay it turns it very muddy and does not give a clean look that I want.
Below are the above pots and other pieces I tried after the bisque firing.
I feel I have made a good start with my winter group and I have a clear direction of where I am going, there is still a lot more testing and experimenting to do but I’m happy where I am now.