Thursday, June 17, 2010

New bowls

Here are some new bowls I've finished recently.

This is my fav bowl of the bunch. I used white shigaraki clay with 2 of my favorite color combos. Since the clay is so white the colors showed up wonderfully.

Small series of bowls here. I used red clay from Kyoto (red shigaraki, minus the stones) I painted blue designs on the outside and used a clear glaze to finish them off. The result is a simple earthy type design. Not bad but next time I think Ill use white shigaraki clay instead of red.

Here are two very small odd shaped bowls. I used red shigaraki clay #104 (the one with the stones) Both have different glazes, the one on the left has two colors and was fired RF, then one on the right has one color and was fired OF. The OF came out with a metallic sheen to it. More t come soon!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My New Favorite Clay...

The red rough clay from Shigaraki prefecture (red #104) is slowly growing to be my favorite clay to use. The wonderful rich red color and gold like stones and sand inside create wonderful pieces and add interest to any glaze that's used on it. Look at some examples below...

***Click on images for larger view

In this small plate series you can see how the red clay makes the green glaze much more appealing and gives it great texture. The gold stones inside this clay melt with the glaze and create new color. The result is a very earthy and visually pleasing. I personally love it.
Below you can see how the glaze looks with a normal red clay from Shigaraki prefecture. This clay is the smooth version of red #104, very similar color but minus the stones. The results are quite different.

Below are some other red#104 clay plates with different glazes. Look closely at all the different colors. With some of the thicker glazes the stones don't stand out as much.

Like I wrote in my past post, I am making clay and glaze samples. When those are complete you will really be able to tell what a difference each clay makes with each glaze. In the meantime I hope this helps!

Back in Action!

Well I'm finally over my bronchitis and back in the studio! Feels great to be back! Since I was away, many of my pieces I've been waiting for have been fired, and 10 pieces in particular are my test tiles I made awhile back. I have been waiting for these babies for almost two months and...drum roll please!...They look amazing! I absolutely love the color and the way they turned out. The wait was worth it. In the year I have been at Sara Yama I must admit these tiles are the best pieces I've turned out. (or at least I think so)

***Click on the tiles to get larger photos

The clays I used were a mix of left over Bizen and Shigaraki (white) clay. The result was a smooth soft pink color and texture. I made 3mm and 5mm pieces and the 5mm turned out much better than the 3mm. At the time it should have been obvious but the 3mm tiles were too thin and ended up warping a little during the glaze firing. (but not enough to make them unusable) The backs of the tiles have grooves in them just like commercial tiles so all the pieces are very much so usable. (Tiles need the grooves on the back so the grout will help seal it to the wall or floor)

In total I used five different glaze colors. The colors were applied using an air gun, so that's why there's the speckled effect on some of the tiles. I also etched my own designs into the tiles while they were still somewhat wet. I wasn't sure how the designs would turn out, but I like the texture they give and the depth of field. They're also eye catching which is never a minus.

Besides 3mm being too thin and causing slight warping, I found out the white/bluish glazes I used also tend to warp clay when only used on one side of a piece. Next time I will either use sparse amounts of the white or avoid it all together.

Overall I an extremely happy with all the tiles! I can't wait to make more and use them in my future bathroom or kitchen. They'd look great as a counter tile, bathtub border or even on a table top. I'll use these 10 test tiles as a wall decoration in my room. Most likely I'll use a frame, smear on some grout and attach the tiles to it. Pictures to come once it's completed!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Hello all, I've been sick with bronchitis for a few weeks now...I'll write again when I'm back in the studio next week!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Color Samples

With several types of available clay, each having different colors and textures it becomes hard to guess how each color will turn out after firing. I'm hoping to eliminate some of my "darn I wish I didn't use this color" woes by making color samples of each glaze.

I decided to go all out and make samples for every clay I use and every glaze available. I have 8 types of clay and 27 glazes so there will be a total of 216 samples in the end, which seems crazy, and maybe it is. BUT putting in the time and effort now to see the end color product will save me tons of time frustration and regret in the future. It is always a bummer after spending so much time making a piece and having the color turn out mediocre and sometimes downright terrible.

There is a certain way color samples must be made in order for the glaze to show up how it will on a piece. The most important thing is the sample has to have vertical area, aka an angle to let the glaze melt the way it would on a piece. (You can see what I mean by the pictures) The other important factor is that the sample is able to stand on its own in the kiln. Tile samples, which lie horizontal end up with different glazing characteristics than standing tiles. There are several techniques like small cups or standing slates. Since I'm making so many I chose standing slates since I can make them faster and more efficiently then small cups. They must stand on there own without toppling over, since the glaze should not touch the kiln when firing, if it does it'll get stuck to the shelf inside and may have to be chiseled off, often resulting in broken pieces.

So far I've made 3 clay set samples, only 5 more sets to go! Pictures to come after they've been glazed and fired!

On a separate note I sold 2 pieces at the Sara Yama Festival! I made 1050 yen! Not much but it's nice to have sold my first pieces, both of which I never expected to sell!

This green free form noborigama fired bowl (price 1000 yen)

and a small black noborigama fired vase (Bottom left) (price 400 yen)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sara Yama Festival

May 29th and 30th was the Sara Yama Festival. A very small fair type event that had some food stalls, goods stalls, games and performances. Our pottery studio has a pottery booth every year that sells the goods the students have made and also has a paint your own plate section.

In order to sell your pieces you need to have a minimum of 5. You get 70% of the selling price you put. I have way to many pieces at home so i put 22 pieces out.

I had several small pieces ranging from 100 yen to 400 yen. Small serving plates and bowls, 2 vases, 2 small bowls and some tea cups.

These were the larger pieces...bigger plates, 2 matching plate and sauce sets. Also a large free form bowl and a spotted serving plate.

Everyone did 3 hour shifts, either morning or afternoon. This is where our pieces were being sold.

On the other side there was a free paint your own plate section. The students at Sara Yama Studio made about 300 plates for the festival. Kids and families would come and sit down for a few minutes to make their own personalized piece. It was quite busy since it was a free thing to do. Arai Sensei is firing all the plates now, they'll be ready for pick up after June 12th.

It was a fun festival! Sadly we didn't sell very many pieces, I think I only made 500 yen this time, but there's always next year!