Brick Work

plate1

You may have read my previous post about the time I spent this summer collecting shoe prints in the wild up in Big Bear to kick start some new texture patterns. This is one of the plates I created except there is not a shoe print in sight! During a slow period in folks walking passed the gallery, I decided to press this clay into the sidewalk bricks.

Sidewalk bricks? Yep! See that thick blue line dividing up the sections of the plate? That is the essentially the grout line between the bricks. Pretty cool, huh? I think so.

I liked this version of plate textures so much that each of the other two times I’ve set up to collect shoe prints I’ve gotten at lease one new brick pattern plate each time. The rest of my brick pattern plates are in various stages of the firing process, but I hope to be able to share them with you soon!

Until then, be sure to check out this plate and those with actual shoe prints incorporated in my online shop!

Here I Go A Paddling

2013-12-31 12.45.25I love clay tools.  I, like many potters I know, collect various clay tools like they are going out of style.  I have three, no maybe four pin tools.  My ribbon and loop tools number close to the double digits.  The tools I use most frequently are kept in an old clay cylinder too small to really be practical.  Not to mention the, um … well, shelves of templates, stamps, forms and lesser used tools on my cart at the studio.  One could even say that I have a tool collection problem.

The funny part?  I don’t really need any of my fancy, more expensive tools.

2013-12-28 12.11.04One of my favorite tools is my paddle.  I have three paddles. Oops!  I just remembered the red one, so I have four paddles.  Well, okay, I actually own close to ten if you count the ones I purchased for the traveling supplies box I use when I teach clay in non-studio spaces.  I did say I had a problem.

Paddles are universal wonders though!  They can round and shape a form; remove divots, folds and other unevenness; and create all sorts of really wonderful textures.  I use my paddle, you got me paddleS, for almost every piece I create.

That being said, I do feel that people often overlook the usefulness of a paddle in the clay world.  People are always surprised to hear that I got a certain texture or effect using a bamboo spoon I got two for a dollar at the dollar store.

Don’t believe me?

I’ve been making honey pots for a few months now.  I actually use a paddle in three ways to create these fun little jars.  First, the main body of the jar is two pinch pots joined together and paddled to perfectly round smoothness!  Second, I use the side edge of my paddle and hit against the body to create the squash or onion look.  Lastly, I make the lid out of the piece of the body I cut out for the opening.  The textured cut out is paddled smooth and thinned on a form before I trim it and add the knob.honey pot paddle collage

Custom orders can often generate some great new ideas for my work like this mortar and pestle.  I used a paddle in two ways for this mortar.  First, I created a pinch pot and then paddled it to a smooth inside and out on a form.  Second, I used the corner of the bottom of the handle to create partial rectangle indents all over the mortar bowl.  I could have probably have used the paddle to round the pestle end as well, but I rolled it on the work table instead …. hmm … how did I miss that!  Oh, well next time!mortar collage

A few other examples to wet your imagination.

Slab cylinder tea bowls with a paddled round bottom and distinctive paddle handle indents.

A dinner ware set I made for my brother and his girlfriend.  Texture was hit into strips of clay and then paddled into the edge of each piece to create the trim.

Hopefully, I’ve inspired my fellow ceramic artists out there to start their own paddle obsession and given my customers and fans a little more insight into my process.