Blogs ... & Life its own self

MAY 2016

It is now the end of May and I have approximately 70 bowls thrown for color tests.


As promised, I have tried every way I can think of to throw with color clay and colored clay patterns. I have found ways I believe will achieve predictable patterns and will be repeatable. 


I have been able to place color where and how I wanted it on the surface of a pot. They are all this shape  because I want to study the outside of the pot more than the inside. Obviously I will be able to see both surfaces but I will be working on the inside surface in the next test segment. Wide bowls, plates and platters … maybe by late fall.

As always with colored clay they key factor for success is TIME. Yes, giving the clay time to even out and meld together. Once I got into the rhythm of making the tests one day and throwing them the next it got much easier!


I came across a U Tube video by Tineke van Gils where she demos inserting a band of color into a plain white thrown vessel. I was able to do this fairly well so it was nice to be able to see the patterns after the pot was thrown.


I have also been able to plan and place the designs on the bottom of the pots. This is great because it is always fun to have a surprise waiting on the bottom of a pot!

So right now they are drying and of course they all look perfect … after the firing I expect to see a lot of warping, cracking and skewing so I am just going to enjoy looking at them all nice and perfect for a bit!!

NEXT STEP … sanding. Not exactly the glamour part of the job.


My new ‘2016 To-Do’ List


Right now I have one big goal. 

Taking a pottery throwing class session.

WOW! Huge right? … no?? 

Well yes, I do kind of know how to throw but since I have not seriously thrown a form in fifteen years I am positive it is worth my while to take at least one session of classes.


I want to explore all the ways a person could use colored clay and colored clay patterns and designs in throwing and in thrown vessels. The only way to do this in a productive manner is to throw the work myself. 

I tried throwing experiments this past year and quickly realized I have lost the ability to make anything taller than 4” or to make the form I want rather than what the clay tells me it is going to make.


So the first line of attack is getting back my throwing skills. 

Then I am going to try everything … inside, outside and all around. Lamination, inlay, sgraffito, clay slip layers, textures, carving … I want to see what happens. I am tired of seeing swirly colors being offered as the only way to throw colored clays.

Hopefully by year end I will have put my money where my mouth is and can offer a teaching section devoted to throwing this marvelous colored clay.

Wish me luck.


The pieces are done!!

Yes, it has been a journey … but a great one and I am very happy with the final results of my ‘Stream of Consciousness’ project.

From the humble beginnings of an idea sprung while watching a pottery demo at the North Carolina Potters Conference … to these magical pieces of coral outcroppings … it has been an excellent experience. It was a joy to run with the idea as it grew.


These were originally meant to go in my yard as an outdoor reef installation but I don’t think that will happen! Another change of plans … of course. 



The Saga Continues …..

These are some fish in process … they have been bisque fired to Cone 06 and I am high lighted the fins of the colored clay fish using Amaco underglaze colors.


I thinned out and colored some Amaco clear glaze so I could see where it was going and more importantly as I loaded the kiln I could see where it was.

Loading the fish was very tricky work so this color really helped me avoid glazing them to the shelf!

I just unloaded my kiln and am HAPPY top to bottom with the results … a colorful load of fish and coral reef parts.


Those brown bases are the parts of the large piece I started with that blew up during the bisque firing. 

Since they all had texture and interest I decided to use them as bases for groups of fish. 

The fish with the holes on top will be hanging from tree branches using fishing line.


I still have another load of fish, sponges and coral to fire, along with some regular work that has been waiting to claim a spot. 


Stream of Consciousness Backfires

In early March of 2015, I started working on a sculpture to put outside in the plantings by my front door. It quickly grew larger and larger … then morphed into a tall coral mound as seen in underwater reefs. As it got larger I began to wonder how on earth I would move it from my second floor studio to my kiln in the garage. I began to post on the subject in the Ceramic Arts Daily Forum as my quandary grew.

Needless to say, it got wrangled downstairs and into the kiln. I let it dry for a month then fired it … and of course, it exploded.


During that long month I made a few hundred fish to put around it and in the shrubbery along the walk.

I put holes in a hundred other fish so they could hang from the trees from thin fishing line.

I cut holes ito the bottom of others so they could be held up by sticks … others will be glued onto forms.

Yes, this is all made from colored clay.


Well as long as I was at it, I decided to make more coral mounds. These would be nifty areas to attach fish to or to have the fish swimming around. At this point they are all bisque fired only.



Not one to stop with an idea once I get going … I decided it needed sponges … lots of sponges.


My absolute favorite things in the ocean are anemones. 

There is always something living in them and they the favored habitat of the damsel fish …  also clown fish … the fish that is so aggressive we thank our lucky stars that they are so tiny. Oner quarter inch long and they will attack a diver’s mask trying to get you to leave..

So here I am, months later and I hope about half way through the project.

I will try to find a spot for them in my yard with my other Installations 


July 2015

Workshop in the Woods


Last week I taught a colored clay workshop at Touchstone Center for Crafts in Pennsylvania. This is in the mountains, just southeast of Pittsburgh. 

The clay studio is in the open air, covered by a roof but not enclosed. There is a brook rushing by that we could hear all day long. Here is an image with some pieces drying in the sun.


They have been having an unusually wet summer, so the mossy rocks were flourishing everywhere.

It rained/drizzled for the first couple days but by Wednesday the sun came out and the weather was lovely.

I had a small group of very talented potters.


Here are some of the demo pieces I made during our week ...


… and below are some of the pieces my students made …




At the end of our week, I placed a fish I had made beside the stream in the woods because at one point in the week, she could have survived there just on the rain!!


I took four of the demo pieces home, never expecting them to survive the bumps of the long drive … but surprisingly, they made it.


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