Sunday, March 15, 2009

Playing in The Mud

So I've been back in the ceramics studio a little over a month now. I brought lots of inspiration back from Japan, even some resources, and I'm ready to roll! I completed some cups, and a small teapot which are in a show at Gallery Mio.
After some small items to get warmed up on the wheel again, I decided to try for this remake. This is a teapot based on a Hiroshige print of a dragon and a phoenix. The dragon teapot was a raucous success, but this one gave me trouble. A failed bottom led to glazing a new one on, and that glaze is hideous! Polka-dot phoenix? No thank you!
I start out with a plain ol' teapot. I usually construct these by throwing two tall straight sided bowls and sticking them together. These were very tall bowls so the teapot is higher then usual, a good canvas really.
I lightly drew on the outline, and then added a layer of clay where I want the beast to be. This makes a rough outline and basic raided shape of the design.

I chose to have a handle instead of lugs as I always have difficulty finding a cane handle that fits just right, of course this means I have to work around it! I enlarged the design slightly over the original to fill the space.
After paddling down the clay to make sure it's fully compressed (no air bubbles!) I begin the second pass on the design. Using my fingers to shape and a small tool to cut I get the details of the design to come out.
The small feather marks are from pressing a tool down on the clay, it must be done while the piece is fairly wet to avoid cracking anything. The trick is keeping the clay wet enough here in Colorado.
I got a little over half way on the carving process, after four hours in the studio I needed to move on to errands and such, I'll go back to finish the second pass, and then move in for final clean up next time I go, likely Tuesday.

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