Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Clay Picture Frames

Sometimes, I like to combine clay and 2-dimensional work in a different way.

This clay frame was made before the drawing--I think it's easier that way.  It isn't a large frame, only 5" x 6". Another experiment in clay engineering.

I turned the corners up just for fun.

I experimented with a glaze at the same time.

The tree is an imaginary one done in watercolor.

Note:  the seemingly cracked corner is the result of an accidental collision of the frame and a teenager.

You can make a slot for the artwork in the back by applying strips of clay on 3 sides offset around the display window of the frame. Just look at the backs of some of the frames you have around the house and improvise.

This frame has a raised edge on 4 sides. The glass, picture and backing fit into the recess created by the edges, then the backing and the clay are held in place with, in this case, just tape.

Hanging can be solved in many ways also.

This piece hangs from an opening made in the clay at the top. A small nail fits right into the space left under the loop. The piece is quite small and doesn't weight much, so this works well.

You can make an indented hole area on the back of a frame to fit a hanger.

Loop holders for wire strung across the back is another way to solve the hanging problem. A lot of times, I've used fishing line or jewelry wire to hand pictures and claywork. These are strong wires.

A high temp kiln wire can serve as a holding wire. It can be embedded in the clay and fired at the same time in the kiln.

You are only limited by your imagination.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

One of my passions is collecting shells. Even though I don't live in Florida, where I understand people fill garages with them, I have accumulated a good selection.

They are my favorite subject for drawing. Beside that, I have often thought about putting my own  claywork in a drawing.

This is a little bowl that is long gone from my inventory, but at the time, it made a very good background for these small shells referred to as "Blood Mouths" because of their vividly red lips. The drawing is done in colored pencil on a light blue paper.

Blood-mouths* are often mistaken for cone shells, but they are really conch shells, common to Guam, where I collected these and first started diving.

*Strombus luhuanus.   Also known as the Blood-mouth Conch, this sea shell features a dark brown columellar and a reddish inner lip. This animal lives in colonies and is This seashell is common to Western Pacific on sand to 5 fathoms.   Measures approx 1. 5" - 2".  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Most Interesting Spout

I have this coffee pot. I've owned it for many years. It was part of a drip coffee set that has the pot on the bottom and a funnel-shaped porcelain filter holder that sits atop it. You insert a paper filter, fill it with grounds, pour hot water through the grounds and the coffee drips down into the pot. Not unusual.

But what is unique, at least to me,  is the spout on the pot. It has a very graceful shape. And the end of the spout has a groove on the underside and a small slot-like hole in it. The groove is angled with the spout shape, but the hole is level with the bottom of the pot.

Because of this design, not a drop develops on the end of the spout . Somehow, the groove and the hole causes the volume of the liquid to go back into the pot via the spout throat and not drip or cling to the end of the spout.

The pot was made in Germany and I have a feeling this design is one that has been used there, perhaps in other places in Europe, for a very long time.

I'm going to try and incorporate this design into my next teapot and see if I can get it to work.

Does anyone know the origin of this design and have any more information about it?

Thursday, July 12, 2012


This grouping of bottles are from a few years ago....They are a little bottom heavy, but in the case of making bottles, that's not a bad thing.

I was experimenting with corks and came up with an idea to cap a wine cork by glueing a top onto the cork after it was fired. Getting the measurements just right is a bit of a hassle, but the cork is secure and fits. I used Goop to attach it to the top.

I really like the way the celadon pooled over the white glaze in the short pot.

I made applied 'buttons' as decorations. The button is actually patterned with a real antique button mold. I made the mold with clay, fired it, then pressed the soft clay button into the bisque mold to reproduce the original button form. You could do this with many different kinds of molds to make all kinds of button decorations on your pots.

The small piece only has a sort of spike shaft at the bottom of the cap. It rattles around right now, but I will find the right cork and hollow it out to fit the shaft.

I like the balance of this tall bottle. Great for single branches and tall flowers. Ridges and finger rings add interest to the shape. There's a lot of exploring to do just in where the rings are placed on the form.

This smaller "buttoned" vase goes with the larger corked one. I believe I made it first, then made it's 'sister'.

Click below for a larger image

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Momentary Inspiration

While cleaning out my iPhoto files, I ran across this older picture of a slabbed bowl.  And I was reminded of how it happened to be made.

I was slabbing out clay for something entirely different and after the piece came out of the roller, I was taken by the shape of the rough slab.

I immediately scrapped the idea of using it for the piece I had previously planned and grabbed a small steel bowl from the worktable, turned it over bottom-side up, tore off strips of newspaper, dipped them in water and laid them over the bowl.

Then I coaxed the slab from the roller, gently placed it over the bowl and smoothed it over the bowl and flattened it to the table surface. As soon as the clay was hardened enough to lift off, I removed the bowl and, still leaving it upside down on the worktable, allowed it to dry to leather hard.

I smoothed and trimmed the edges and fired it upside down on the kiln shelf. Pre-bisqued tiles that I have around as set tiles came in handy for supports and to allow air to circulate under the piece.

Glaze firing was done with the bowl right-side up and a simple design worked to emphasize the  undulations of the form.

I don't have this bowl any more and this is the only picture. I photographed on the driveway just as a record and reminder after it came out of the kiln.

It is good to follow your flash of inspiration wherever it leads you.

I must try this again.....