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Cone: 6 (primarily)
state of the art - Cone Art Kiln
Clay Bodies: plainsman m370 (cone 6 white stoneware), plainsman p300 (cone 6 porcelain) , B-Mix - (cone 10)
Wheel Thrown & Handbuilt
Supplies Tuckers Pottery Supply House & Pottery Supply House. These are great sources for clay and supplies in Toronto. Frank at Tuckers is super great! - Vancouver Island Pottery Supply in Parksville, BC
I love working on the wheel. When I first tried my hand at pottery, close to 20 years ago, I found home. Below I will explain some of the steps I take in making my pottery.
For more technical information on the how to's of my pottery making, you may want to venture into the world of blogs. There is lots of info out there and yes, I too have one. It is geared mostly for potters, to share and exchange ideas, techniques, recipes ( glazes, though food sometimes creeps in as every good potter knows) Check out my BLOG if you are interested.
Living in a city, I am able to buy clay already prepared for immediate use. Some potters however, dig their own clay, sieve it for impurities and stones etc., dry it, add other ingredients to it, pug it (a mixer and wedger) cure it, then use it. (There are more steps required but that gives you the picture). Me, I'd rather have an iced tea.
I take the clay and begin to wedge manageable amounts, usually between 2 and 10- pounds at a time. Wedging resembles kneeding dough. There is a specific way to wedge clay so that all the particles are facing the same direction
The wedging does many things, it softens the clay and helps to make it uniform in consistency. If there are any lumps in the clay that are more firm than the rest of the clay, it makes it difficult to throw evenly on the wheel. The other main reason for wedging is to remove the clay mass of any air pockets. One of the hardest things to get as a new potter is the right technique for removing air bubbles while wedging ( instead of putting air bubbles into the clay - as many beginners have a tendancy to do - Don't discourage, you'll get it! I promise)
To make sure there are no air bubbles ( which will make it nearly impossible to centre clay on the wheel (we'll get to that shortly), the large wedged mass of clay is cut or sliced with a thin wire or fishing line. One may make a few slices just to be sure. Then I make smaller balls of clay ready to head to the wheel for throwing. Depending on what I am making, I may actually weigh the sections so that I will for instance, make mugs that are similar in size ( though never exact as they are each made individually by hand and not made using a mold.)
Then the real fun begins.
First is centering the clay which takes a foccused mind and really good tunes on the radio or an mp3 player.
All pots, bowl, vases, mugs, baking dishes, even plates, really start out as some kind of cylinder on the wheel. After the pot is CENTERED, (when you look down at the wheel and the wheel is spinning round and round, the clump of clay in the middle of the wheel looks like it is absolutley still and not moving at all), the pot is then OPENED by putting a finger direclty in the center of the mass, and then widening that hole to approximately the width of the pot you desire to make. (Shaping comes later) Then it is a matter of pulling up the sides of the pot, and 'growing the pot' (all very legal, I might add), Shaping the inside of the pot comes next. depending I am making a vase, or a bowl, a plate or a baking dish, I use my fingers, fist, sponges, wooden and plastic ribs, (old credit cards as they provide a pretty sturdy edge that can be cut into various shapes) to get the shape I want.
The dance between the right and left hand is actually... well... just like ballroom dance parters. Staying quite close to each other, yet, one partner or hand in this case, leading the other, back and then forth. It really is very lyrical and poetic
After the pot has reached the shape that I want, I then have to remove the piece of pottery from the wheel head, undercutting the pot so that as it dries and shrinks ( which it does), I can easily remove it from the board, or bat, or table or shelf that I have placed it on. I cover it with plastic while it slowly begins to dry.
At the leather hard stage, which depending on the weather, season, dampness or dryness in the studio, can take from a couple of hours ( depending on size of pot) to a week or more, I then remove it carefully from the bat, shelf, board etc. so as not to leave the bottom of the pot behind ( yuck!) and distort the piece of pottery. Now it is time to trim the bottom and sides if nescessary to finish shaping it and make it 'functional' so it can sit on a table surface and not scratch it. This process creates the foot of the pot.