Something Old or Something New?

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.

Check out this piece and others in my online shop.

A Little Bit of Experimentation

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!

Euphorbia Mammillaris Variegata

The lovely folks at California Cactus Center in Pasadena feature a wide range of rare succulents from all over. In addition to being a great resource of knowledge on the care and maintenance of this drought tolerant plants, their nursery features a range of staged plants in both commercial and handmade pots.

Aaree was kind enough to feature one of my planters in her video about how to achieve different looks using the same plant, but different planters and top dressing. Definitely a must watch for some great tips on successfully re-potting your succulents as well!

Inspired to try it yourself? Stop by California Cactus Center to take a look through their selection of pots (including some of my latest designs) or visit my Etsy shop!

The Space Between

I struggled for a long time with adding negative space to my work. My approach was the more texture the better, but after awhile I realized that more texture isn’t necessarily better.

Strangely, it was my planters that really got be started on using more negative space. Since these pots tend to have simpler patterns and less complexity in glazing I really got to explore the idea of leaving a place for people’s eye to rest. Then as I started enjoying more and more that quiet space, I began looking for stamps I had made that created interesting spaces that when repeated almost became the focus vs the textured impression.

The best part of including this little bit of space between my textures is that oftentimes those spaces create their own conversation like with this little planter. I love, love this fish scale texture and had no idea how provocative it might become once formed.

Stop by the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix this weekend to check this one and all of my most recent planters in person!

Low Riders

I thought I’d share a peak into my newest planter designs leading up to this weekend’s Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society’s Annual Show.

I love these kind of designs with a zipper-esque approach with all of the texture falling in between two lines. I spend way more time than you probably imagine working out the exact flow of the line before I add any other textures. I especially like how on this particular planter the line reminds me of pants worn low on the hips – the lack of glaze above only emphasizes that impression for me.

My favorite pieces are all, in some way, like this planter. They evoke an unexpected image or two with my texture and glaze choices.