Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tea For More Than Two

Late last night I finished the bodies for some future teapots -- finishing them will be today's labor. If you look closely, you can see the upside-down lids over on the warecart by the wheel. I'll start by throwing a chuck on which to trim and shape the tops of those lids.

Finished, they will look something like these couple from earlier this year. I'll decorate the teapot bodies while they're still soft -- I like to get a bit of distortion when I use my stamps on the sides.

I don't do the blue maple leaf until the next day because all that extra slip usually collapses those thin walls. Next I'll throw spouts and attach them. Next will be the back handles.

If you look beneath that shelf of snowmen (again, on the warecart) you'll see some pear shapes. Those will end up being teapots as well. Oribe leaves on millring red bodies. I've tried time and again to do shino pears (like the three small ones below), but cussed stuff that shino is, it defies having lids that match the bottoms. As it is, I already make a tiny coil of wadding to fire the lid on the bottom so that the lid won't fuse down on the base during firing.

I spent the morning replenishing the pots on Etsy after another stellar couple of days of online sales. Here are just a few of the pieces I put up today. They're mostly green because my porcelain pieces (the ones I do in red/gold) are still in the bisque kiln. Hopefully, I'll get those fired in the next day or two to get some extra variety uploaded.


  1. John-

    Mind sharing a technique? Is the maple leaf design a paper cut-out? I've been trying to figure it out....

    PS - Love your blog!

  2. I don't mind at all.

    It is a simple paper cut-out. When I first started using the idea, I tried real leaves. They worked, of course, but there were several things I didn't like about using them:

    1. Believe it or not, I really didn't like the appearance of the veins leaving their marks in the soft clay. I put the leaves on while the pot is still wet -- while it's still on the wheel in many cases -- and real leaves' veins showed. The veins made the surface too busy and I was looking for a cleaner look because the thick slip was already adding lots of pattern and busy-ness to the surface. I liked it when the leaf broke up that busy-ness -- not added to it.

    2. Real leaves almost immediately curl up when coated with thick slip. A few times around the wheel and my brush was peeling back parts of the leaf and slip was getting underneath the curled edges. Paper leaves stay put. Paper leaves stick right to the wet clay and stay there.

    3. I re-designed the leaf to a shape I liked better than nature's shape. It started out as a silver maple, but I "fattened" the spinyness out of that leaf -- made it much broader.

    4. Real leaves were obviously seasonal, with no practical way to store them through the winter months.

    The slip I use is about as thick as pudding. That makes for lots of spiraling brush marks (something I like). With the slip VERY thick, and the glaze only SEMI-transparent, what happens is a lot of interplay between the slip color and the glaze color.

    I've said it before -- I don't favor glaze that looks like paint. If a glaze adds nothing but color to the surface, I'm usually not that interested in the glaze. This thick slip/matte glaze combination gives me a richer texture to the surface.

    Because the slip is so thick, I often have to wait until the pot is a bit dryer. If I don't, the pots often collapse with all the added moisture of the slip.

    Also, because the slip is so thick I have to peel the leaves away (usually when the pot is a little softer than leather hard). If I don't peel them away, but instead try to fire the leaves off, what happens is the slip stays intact like a cicada shell. It has to be broken off the surface in order to be glazed. That doesn't work (where's that emoticon with the rolling eyes?).

    Peeling the leaves away while the clay is still somewhat soft also allows me to see where to carve in the stems. It also allows me to actually distort the clay a bit with that carving.

  3. Thanks for the info and application tips, John. You get a nice effect.

  4. ...oh yes, i'm a BIG fan of your teapots...!!!