A Potter’s Most Valuable Skill

Posted by on Apr 22, 2011 in Carving, Creamer and Sugar Set, Critique, Glazes, How-to, Plates, Slip Trailing, Surface Decoration | 0 comments

The most beneficial thing that I have gained by attending workshops is participating in critiques.  And, although subjecting my pots to open opinion was uncomfortable, I have had really positive experiences and gained a lot of insight. Self-critiquing is a powerful skill that is worth incorporating.  Since I have been conducting self-critiques and critiques with Julie, I am more cognizant and focused about what I want to make.  I have begun to balance awareness of my weaknesses with recognition of my strengths.  And, I know what I want to do and what I want to try which makes me feel more confident. For me, there are two main categories – technical (throwing questions) and aesthetic (design questions).  One of the most important aspects of a self-critique is the ‘why’.  Asking ‘why’ makes the initial and emotional responses to the pot tangible.  It also keeps me from being lazy and casually dismissing a pot. Here are a few things that I think about when I critique my pots: Technical Is it proficiently thrown?  (functionality, weight, rim/foot thickness, handle width) What is the first part of the pot that I notice and why? How does it feel (sharp, heavy, smooth)?  Is that what I intended?  Does it work? What do I need to be mindful of the next time I make this shape (more clay, throw thinner, leave rim thicker, clean up better, stronger attachment)? Aesthetic Does this pot ‘work’?  Why/why not? Is it balanced?  Should it be? Does the surface embellishment enhance/hide the pot shape? Does the glaze hide/enhance the surface embellishment? Does the glaze enhance/hide the pot shape?  Is that good?  Why/why not? Does the transition from one glaze to another work?  Why/why not? Is there an opportunity to enhance contrast (use a satin/matte with a gloss glaze; add complementary color glaze; incorporate more texture) What will I change the next time I make this form (glaze, texture, shape)? What questions do you ask yourself about your pots? Creamer – Swirl designs make the creamer feel fun. The raspberry glaze breaks wonderfully over the raised slip – more successful harmony between glaze and texture. Bowl Set – The rim is a good choice for carving because it gives a defined space for texture. However, some of the carving is lost in the raspberry...

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Considerations and Logistics: Carving

Posted by on Apr 13, 2011 in Carving, Creamer and Sugar Set, How-to, Peaceful Meadow, Teapot, Tools | 4 comments

In this series of blog entries, I am sharing some of the discoveries I am making as I try to add texture to my pots. Carving is one of the techniques I have been using recently.  When I began carving on the pots, I quickly recognized that no choice is made in a vacuum – other factors must be considered. Technical – Again, this has been the easiest of the logistics to resolve.  It includes carving at the appropriate point of dryness – too dry and the carving chips; too wet and the pot is gouged. Method – Factors that I want to control when carving are width and depth of the lines.  There are 2 tools I have been using – a wire loop sgrafitto tool and a linoleum cutter.  I like the sgrafitto tool because I can make the lines quickly but they tend to be subtle and shallow.  The lino cutter is nice because it has multiple tips which make various width lines that are clean and bold.  I need to work a lot more with both of these because I haven’t achieved the application I want.  Also, I found it is easier to make curvy lines with slip rather than carving them.       Glaze response – Understanding the properties each glaze exhibits has been key (this is a prevalent truth).  Some of the glazes don’t break, are too pale, or are too thick.  The best glazes for shallow carving break with contrast and don’t run too much.  However, if the carved line is wide, it allows two glazes to interact with one another and introduce a third color which can highlight the carved pattern. Design – All that the factors I identified with slip application are true for carving: what patterns to carve, how to relate the patterns to the rest of the pot, and how to designate a space on the pot for carving patterns.  In addition, I noticed that some of the carved patterns feel flat so I have begun to combine slip and...

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