Back when I first started producing planters in quantity, I had developed a series of texture patterns. Each pattern used my handmade stamps and/or found objects to create a design.
There was tire tracks that used a small wheel I had found. And sunflower that used my stamps and rollers. And … so many that I eventually built up a list of twenty or so patterns I rotated through. I made many planters in this style until I switched firing temperatures a couple of years ago. Once I switched, my textured planters became fewer and glaze designs like subway lines and seedlings stole the spotlight.
My original designs all featured a chrome oxide wash to add depth to the bare clay texture and then glaze in only a few select parts of the pattern. The oxide wash doesn’t have the same look and feel at the temperature I fire at now so I’ve largely either changed to all over glaze for texture pieces or simply stopped creating them.
Until this most recent round in the studio when I was playing around with a large nut/bolt I found sometime ago.
As I was stamping the clay, I realized that I might not need a glaze design in the negative space. That maybe I just needed to either leave the texture or the background free of glaze. Just like I used to do (although without the oxide wash) … wide sections of bare clay making the texture pattern pop.
I think it worked out, but I’ll let you be the judge.
I “grew up” in the clay world firing my work at cone 10 reduction. For those unfamiliar with clay firing terms, the cone number is a kind of shorthand for the ultimate firing temperature. Cone 10 is approximately 2300 to 2400 degrees Fahrenheit. Reduction means that the work was fired in a kiln environment where the amount of oxygen was limited or reduced. The combination on firing temperature and kiln environment impacts what clays and glazes that can be used as well as effects achieved, but I digress.
When you are first learning a skill or process you don’t know what you don’t know. It wasn’t until many years into my clay journey that I first came across other firing temperatures. I had just never created work at a studio where different firing options were available. In many ways it was eye opening, but so different that initially I only did a handful of experiments at other temperatures.
It wasn’t until a few years ago when I switched solely to my home studio and kiln that I really embraced a different firing temperature. I now fire exclusively at cone 5/6 (approximately 2100 degrees Fahrenheit). Brighter colors and a broader range of colors are some of the pros at this temperature.
Each year I have been expanding my glaze palette from five options my first year or two to about 15 plus at last count.
One of my newest experiments is Olive Float (pictured above). Let me know what you think.
Just sharing a little bit of my behind the scenes process (or lack of it in this case!) with some experimenting I did on a planter yesterday.
I’m using for this process Amazon Velvet Underglazes. I don’t really explain this in my talk, but underglazes are essentially commercially produced colored clay. However, what differentiates them from a colored clay or colored slip you may make yourself is the range of versatility of when you can apply them. Unlike colored clay/slip which can only be applied to moist clay, underglazes can be applied to moist clay, bone dry clay or even after bisque fire. This technique I’m showing here takes full advantage of this flexibility to be used at the bisqueware stage when sponging your piece is safer. Enjoy!
All of my designs came about through similar times in the past when I was trying new ideas. Check out the ones that made the final cut here!