Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thank You!

Many thanks to Glenda from ByHand for featuring us in her Nautilus spotlight! Such lovely company we find ourselves in....

Thank you!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summer Colors: Oasis Blue

Experimenting with new glaze colors is one of the most fun and exciting parts of the design process for Mom. I even get input, too! One of our latest is Oasis. On its own, it is certainly beautiful, but we have found layering it with forest green creates the most beautiful oceanic lagoon blue color.

There are several items in the shop highlighting this beautiful summer color.

set of 3 dipping bowls

shell plate
(we added a little white to this one and at my request, we are doing some solid white pieces soon...can't wait to show you those!)

And here is where it all began. This ruffle bowl was glazed in a progression of blues to greens....starting with oasis at the base, then forest green, then spring green. The result of combining forest green and oasis was a beautiful surprise!

one final teaser...a scroll stamped trivet in oasis on its way into the shop later this week.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Birthday Giveaway

This past Thursday was Jeanette's birthday! In honor of the "birthday week" we are extending a brand new giveaway. In the past, we've done jewelry, coasters, bowls, and other lovely items, but this time we are offering one lucky reader a $20 gift certificate towards any item in our shop!

This one is an easy one. Just hop on over to the shop and tell us your favorite item in the shop. Leave a comment on this post and an email address or link to your blog (we have to let you know if you win after all : ) We'll pick a winner in two weeks on Sunday, August 2 , so enter now for your chance to win! (For those that haven't figured out commenting, see this post or just email us stonelotuspottery [at] gmail [dot] com).

Get additional chances to win:

1) post a link to our shop and giveaway on your blog

2) post about this giveaway on Facebook

Just leave additional comments letting us know and we'll enter your name up to three times!

Only available within the U.S. You must leave a way for us to contact you in order to win. Once notified of winning, you have one week to provide a shipping address or we'll pick another winner. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Behind the Wheel: Glazing

Sorry it's been so long between posts, but it's been a busy few weeks. The last few posts showed my mom's studio and a few different ways of working with clay. Once a piece is finished on the wheel or pressed into a mold, it has to air dry for at least a few hours, if not overnight. The wet clay is allowed to dry to a leather hard state. At this point, she can choose to carve a pattern like this

carved goldenrod serving bowl

She also trims the base of the piece to give it a clean edge and sharpen the lines. She centers it on the wheel (upside down) and holds it in place with a few pieces of clay. Then she can use a few different tools to trim the edges.

Once dried and trimmed, the piece is ready for the first firing. This stage of "bisque firing" is done at a lower temperature and the result is called bisque ware. This first firing removes all the moisture and gets the piece ready to take glaze.

Here is some of the bisque ware at the studio....

Next, she melts wax and dips the bottom of each piece to coat. This forms a barrier so glaze won't cover the bottom. The glaze would melt and stick to the shelf in the kiln during the next firing, so it's a good idea to keep the bottom clean!

Then it's time for the heavy artillery. She uses this compressor to spray or airbrush glaze onto each piece. There are about a thousand ways to put glaze on bisque ware, but she's quite fond of spraying. We've dipped and sponged and painted, too.

She rests the piece on a bat (kind of like a lazy susan) so she can spin it while spraying.
And then starts spraying...
Glaze is simply a mixture of silica, oxides, and colorants suspended in water. Because bisque ware is so porous, it practically soaks up all water from the glaze and you're left with layers of what feels like chalk on your piece. This is where I think it's safe for me to say it takes a lot of skill to glaze well. It's not like you're seeing the bright, shiny colors that will be on the final product. You have to know exactly how much is enough and what the colors will do when mixed without being able to see them during the spraying process.

Hard to believe this already has at least two coats of glaze on it....I wasn't kidding when I said bisque ware soaks up glaze like a sponge!

Heavier pieces will "stay put" while sprayed, but jewelry tends to be so light, she has to carefully hold them in place while spraying : )
You can also layer glazes on top of each other and create new combinations. Below is a picture of some rings glazed in black (on top) and black mixed with gunmetal (on bottom). The black ones are easy to see the dark color glaze in its "powdery" form, but the bottom ones with gunmetal layered over the black are a little trickier. Most glazes look more like whitewash on the porous clay, so it's all about knowing what works and learning how much glaze to layer.

Here are a few other bisque ware pieces with glaze from the studio. Here you can see some of the darker colors stand out, but most of it is just pale whitewash. I keep pointing this out because I was shocked the first time I saw this process. It's just amazing to me how much you have to do by feel and with practice.

Once glazed, the pieces are ready for the second and final firing. This time at a much higher temperature (about 2000 degrees). The glaze firing step is rewarding and challenging. Sometimes a piece comes out cloudy or the detail of the carving is obscured because you put on too much glaze. Other times it's washed out because it wasn't enough glaze. Sometimes the color combinations look muddy rather than blended. Sometimes glaze can "jump" from one piece to another if they are sitting too close get the idea. This final step is the most rewarding, but also quite challenging!

The two pieces shown as examples (the small bowl and trivet) are now finished pieces and will be in the shop soon. I will do a before and after post just to show the striking difference once I take pictures of them!

And the rings are all but gone...
The two black ones sold already...

But this gunmetal one will be in the shop soon...

And the other gunmetal ring?!?! A certain potter may or may not be wearing her first ever piece of fashion jewelry. So proud!