Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making a Coil Vase pt.2

My vase was kept safely in layers of plastic and moist towels so when I took it out last night to continue working on it it was at the perfect stage.

Before continuing I had to score the last edge and moisten up the area to ensure the new fresh clay would blend well with the more dry base. This was the hardest part since the base clay didn't move much but it was fine in the end.

There is not much else to explain at this point except just keeping adding coils on over and over. This photo is at about 6 coils, about 25 cm.

The most difficult part was building without bringing in the mouth too much. Here after about 10 coils you can see how much the mouth of the vase has closed up. This was not good. If I kept going at this pace the vase would close up at only 30cm (and I want 90cm)

But lucky for me Arai Sensei helped me out and showed me how to stretch the clay out. You can see the difference from the photo above. The mouth has been widened. I used the same wooden smoothing tool from pt 1 to smooth the inside. But instead I used a little more force and formed the clay to the correct shape. I was lucky enough to have made the coils thick enough to allow this stretching and leeway to happen.

If you look at the photos from top to bottom you can see I made this mistake right from the beginning. I should've tried to build the coils upwards instead of inwards from the beginning last night. But crises was averted.

While building it's important to check above and at eye level to make sure the piece is being built evenly all around. I put the vase onto a table top wheel to make it easier to build and see if it was even. A quick spin will show lumps and unevenness, as long as the vase is centered.

After checking for lumps and bumps I did some final smoothing out and this is the final result for now. It was re-wrapped and is waiting for the next set of coils. It is at about 32cm now. The next step should be faster and easier. One third of the way done! I'm up to 5 kg and 6 hours of time...

ps. I know it looks lumpy now but that will change along the road since the outside will get shaved.

Until next time!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Finished Things

First and foremost my teacher, Arai Sensei had a small article printed about him in the Nishi Nihon Newspaper. Just a basic article about how he got into pottery and his style. Congratulations Arai Sensei! The picture is cute too, it's the blue outfit he always wears at the studio :)

Next are all the pieces I made before New Years that have finally been glazed and fired. Sorry for the low quality images.

Large serving plate made with bizen clay. New X glaze, red iron brush designs below and my signature circle line carvings. OF firing. I like the iridescent coloring, gives the plate a nice smokey blue color.

Very flat leaf plate, I plan to use it for gyoza. Bizen clay, X glaze red iron brush design OF firing.

Mixed clay bowl, X base glaze with a few N accent spots. OF firing

Mixed clay, X glase with W glaze rim, OF firing

black stone clay, R glaze OF firing. Shot with food, love how the plate makes the food colors pop

Mixed clay bowl, X glaze OF firing

Mixed clay cup, M base with R rim, OF firing

re-fired from noborigama. Black stone clay, R glaze OF firing

Re-fired from noborigama. Black stone clay, R glaze. This turned out better than before but it's still missing something...Still determining if I want to add more glaze and fire it again.

Last are some green ware pieces. All are Bizen clay and I put a slip of a mate glaze on them. It's my first time trying this out but one of the other students said they turn out pretty neat so I thought I'd give it a try. These will all be bisque fired, and then glazed again and fired again. The slip should stand out on the finished piece if I use a clear glaze on the final firing. We'll see what happens :)

Small and slender vase

Coffee cup

I'm still waiting on the RF pieces. More to come soon!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Making a Coil Vase Pt. 1

Sadly my time at Sara Yama Studio is coming to an end. With less than a year left I need to start planning and thinking about what last final statement pieces I want to make before I move on to another new studio.

First on my list is a big floor vase. I've always loved vases and I love giant flower arrangements. So the planning and initial making of the vase has begun.

Before starting I did a few sketches of my fav. styles and deigns and decided on this one. Long tear drop style vase with a natural free form mouth. I was hoping to make something super huge BUT of course I am limited by the kiln size, max height of 94 cm, so I decided to make this one 90cm.

A vase this size needs about 20kg of clay, so this is no easy or cheap project to take on. If you think about basic price (450 yen per kilo, great price!) 20x450=9000yen or about $100. PLUS time spent making it, let's say 10 hours and a 1000yen($10) an hour price(which is an extremely cheap labor price) is another 10000 yen. Plus theres the glaze and electricity it takes to fire the thing. I'd say about 25000 yen or $270 minimum price tag.

Only when I started pottery did I realize why pieces like this have such a high price tag. The time, money and materials it takes to make a large object is massive. Now I finally understand why those plant pots at the garden center cost so much :p

To make a coil pot you need to start with a thick base, like this one in the picture. I put it on a spinning plate to make it easier to build upon later on.

Of course to make a coil pot you need tons of coils. The best way to make one is by starting off with a yam shaped lump of clay and rolling it outwards. You must make sure they are the same thickness throughout to ensure the piece won't be lumpy, otherwise it could collapse or be uneven later on.

After making about 10 coils you should be ready to start building.
When not using the coils it's best to cover them with a towel so they won't crack and dry out. Make the coils bigger than you think they should be since they will get used up in the process.

Next take a comb tool and score the edges of the base where the coil will be attached.

To ensure a good seal it's best to use liquid clay on the scored edges before putting the first coil on.

It should look something like this after brushing it on.

Next you're ready to put the first coil on. A nice thick one is best since this is the base and you'll need lot's of support once it gets higher and higher.

The next coil should not go directly over the previous, instead it should be placed half way inside. The coil must also be put on a little at a time. So one hand is holding the remaining coil while the other hand is gently pushing it down onto the previous coil.

Remember this phrase, "outside bottom, inside top"
Always start smoothing the coil from the outside, bringing clay UP from the bottom. Then after that is finished you can move to the inside and push the clay down from the top. You can see what I mean in the two shots above.


Eventually it'll get higher and higher and start to look like something. Here the vase is about 10 cm tall. (Took about 2 hours)

2.5 hours later. Keeping the shape of my vase in mind I kept measuring and making sure I was building the vase at the right angle. Since I want a teardrop shape I had to calculate at what height it would be the widest, so keeping that in mind I kept building outward. (Widest point is at 13.5 cm)

Nearly three hours later. This is as far as I could get last week so I made sure the vase was even on all sides (no edges sticking out and not too wobbly)

I then used this handy little wooden tool to shape the inside and outside. It gave the vase a nice smooth finish. The outside isn't so important now since later on it will get shaved off anyways, so I mainly smoothed the inside.

For now a damp towel is put on to keep in moisture for when I want to build more coils on top. I hope to have this vase built by the beginning of feb. but we'll see :)

More vase building to come soon ;)

Until next time!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Other Nobori Pieces

Besides the teapot I had many other pieces in the December noborigama. My second fav was this giant coffee/tea/soup cup. The color turned out great and it's so easy to use.

Inside of the cup. I love the great white and blue color of the glaze :)

Here are my 6 free form plates I made awhile back. I used three different glazes and the air gun to color them. They were a mix of several different clays.

The swirls of the different clays are very subtle but there. You can also see the different glaze colors as well, though it is very discreet.

Last but not least are the pieces that didn't turn out as planned. The vase's kohagi glaze didn't run very well and was only half done in a sense. The same goes with the two small bowls. The glaze (kohagi again) was only half fired so these three are now in the electric kiln getting re-fired. It's not a big deal, they will still turn out quite nicely and the color will retain from the noborigama :)

Until next time!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Pieces

So after almost three weeks of vacation and not being in the studio many pieces I started before 2011 are all ready for firing!
First was the supposed teapot turned vase. After bisque firing it turned out pretty well. After some sanding I glazed it with a color I have never used before. N glaze. It should turn out something like this. But you never know, this is a large piece so the color could be different.
I'm hoping the top won't sink down much, but my teacher says it's a 50/50 chance >< Here's hoping it doesn't!

Next were a bunch of bowls and two large plates. The plates are bizen while the bowls are a mix of clays. The plates also have a red brush design on them which you can see in the picture. There is also another plate that is not picture here, it is black stone clay with kohagi glaze and looks very similar to this only bigger.

This is a brand new glaze, glaze X. It's a very mild color but I wanted to give it a try. Left is OF and right if RF coloring. The OF version is very similar to glaze U which is also a yellow color and the RF is similar to glaze L. I used this glaze for all the plates and bowls from the picture above. (Pictures and exact combos of glazes to come next week)

Last were two coffee cups and a small bowl. Final pictures to come soon!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's been quite awhile since I have posted anything, but my pottery life is finally back on its normal schedule. I finally managed to pick up my noborigama pieces and for the most part the turned out great! Today I'll show you my beloved teapot!

Front View
First and foremost is my wonderful teapot. It turned out absolutely they way I wished. Great color, nice glaze run and good shape. Bonus: the water doesn't dribble! It pours nice and smooth like a factory made teapot :) I'm so proud of this piece!

*I'm still searching for the perfect bamboo handle!

Back view
You can see the small spot I put all over the body. I think they turned out great, they blend in just enough but also add texture and interest.

Close up
I initially thought the glaze would turn out like this. But of course even if something is the same clay and same glaze the wood kiln will always surprise you! This time the bizen clay turned a wonderful bronze color and the blue glaze turned a nice deep black navy, with bright blue towards the bottom of the dripping glaze. There is also a slight outline of the glaze, which also looks great. (You can somewhat see it in the picture to the left here)

Inside view
Although this picture doesn't show it very well, the inside of the teapot is a bright blue color. I think this is so neat that it turned out this way. It's almost a surprise when you take the lid off since you wouldn't expect the inside to be bright blue :)

All in all I'm so happy! Can't wait to start on my new teapot!