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Janson Pottery Blog

~ Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pressed Wildflower Tiles

I love this time of year. It hasn’t been an incredibly warm summer this year. This week we have been blessed with sunny, hot weather and wildflowers seem to love that.  A few years ago, I began pressing flowers in clay. Some worked well and others didn’t. One of the ones that did was Queen Anne’s Lace. It was hardy enough to be pressed and pulled out without coming apart while others either did not leave enough of an impression because they are too delicate. Some of the hardier ones like Scotch Thistle are too deep and go right through the clay.  Queen Anne’s Lace leaves amazing detail and during our past few crazy winters, I have often picked up a tile and was left remembering what summer felt like.

Yesterday I decided that I would press some before summer is gone and the flowers would dry up and wither.

I have documented through photos the process of pressing them. At the end, I will show you a completed one.

The first image shows the tile that I have cut for placement on the tile. I have already cut the piece of clay and I will put it through the slabroller again with the flower laid on top.
The second image shows what tile looks like once the flower has been embedded into the clay. The excess clay with be trimmed off.
The third image shows how the flower can be removed without disturbing the clay or the flower. If there is any part of the flower that is left in the clay, I just let it burn out in the firing.
Once I have bisque fired the tiles, I glaze them with a clear glaze and then usually sprayed a couple of other colours on top. I have a number of different tiles in my etsy shop if you would like to see more of the possibilites.  They make the most amazing backsplash images for a bathroom or kitchen. They can also be used as coasters. They remind those of us who experience long snowy winters what summer felt like.

~ Sunday, August 02, 2009

Reassessing Work

I love to read books on Ceramics. Recently, I completed another book by one of my favourite potters, Robin Hopper. There is always so much to explore. So many clay bodies, types of firings, a huge range of surface decoration options and the list goes on. One of the wonderful things about working in clay is that the options for exploration seem to be limitless.

When I was in school, I was all about glazes and decorating with. When I left school and began a studio of my own in a big city, I had no choice but to work with an electric kiln.
I believe that it is true that when one works with an electric kiln, that we have to work harder to make the surface more interesting. I think that when you have a strong form to begin with, it makes a bigger difference.
Lately, I have been examining where I am with forms that I make and concentrating on making the ones that speak to make. Periodically, I feel the need to reassess where I am with my work. Every potter develops their own style and I came to realize that the forms that I made 15 years ago, still speak to me today. They have changed in a number of ways because we change as we evolve with our work.  When I look at the work of others, I find that I can become transfixed on either strong glazing applications or strong lines within the form.
When I moved away from Toronto 5 years ago, I found that all of my work underwent a big transformation. I made a lot of functional pieces from slabs (flat pieces of clay) laid into templates that my husband made for me. I decorated with slip and then sprayed layers of glazes.  I loved that work and still do today. These days I am working on a new dinnerware line which I have decided to throw on my wheel. I haven’t made the big plates or finished the mugs yet. This is my work in progress.  I would feedback if anyone is willing to share it. Tell me what you like and what you don’t like. I would appreciate. It makes me a better potter.

~ Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Haliburton School for the Arts Workshop with Jessica Steinhauser

At the beginning of May, I attended a workshop called “Contemporary Design & Traditional Techniques” in beautiful Haliburton, Ontario with the lovely and talented Jessica Steinhauser of “Stonehouse Pottery” in Guelph, Ontario. 



For some time now, I have wanted a week away to just hang out with clay and not focus on anything in particular.  This workshop proved to be very satisfying for me. Since completing my ceramics program, I have tried to make slips (liquid clay mixed with colourants) and have never had great success with them. I have wanted to explore them on a more in- depth level. There are many ways to make slips and I am always looking for the easiest route.  Jessica showed us how she makes her slips. She dries out the clay, adds colourants, screens them, and voila – we had slips for decorating.

Jessica was very giving with information. She seems to be a very self assured potter because she was willing to share anything she knew with us. Some potters are not so forthcoming with information, as they are concerned that their work will be copied.  Realistically, such work could never be duplicated in its entirety because even though the techniques/forms are similar, the human touch by which the artist uses will always create a unique signature.

Jessica is one of the most amazing throwers (working on a wheel) I have ever seen and she was willing to show us any form that we were interested in. Of course, I came up with any form that I have ever struggled with making and put it on the list that was up for the week that we were there.

We worked on different forms throughout the week, participated in making slips and decorating them. Towards the end of the week, we fired our coloured test tiles to have a better idea of what the end result would be because the colours do change once they are fired.  Jessica demonstrated her decorating techniques and she had us marveling at how easy it looked.



All in all, fun was had by everyone. By the end of the week, we were out enjoying the spring weather during lunch sharing stories, and enjoying each other’s company.

I am looking forward to my next week long adventure in clay.

~ Thursday, July 02, 2009

Designstyleguide interview revisited

Here is the February interview with Designstyleguide in case you missed it!

1. What is your shop name and what do you sell?
My shop name is Janson Pottery. I sell handmade porcelain and stoneware pottery and tiles. [My work] can also be found at www.jansonpottery.com and www.craft.on.ca/portfolio/JanetHolson-Mazzer.

2. What long series of events led to you doing this?

I went back to school as a mature student part-time and then decided to take a full time Ceramic Art and Design program because it had always been a dream of mine to work in clay. I had taken ceramics programs in high school and knew that one day, I would return to the medium that I was so passionate about. Most of the time, this passion leaves me feeling in awe of life.

3. Who taught you the particular skills you use in your work?

I went to George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario and since graduating from the Ceramics Art and Design program, I have done many workshops, gone to lectures, and courses as well.

4. When did you start selling on Etsy?

November 13, 2008

5. What is your favorite thing about Etsy?

My favourite thing about Etsy is the diversity of mediums and styles of work. I also love the forums, what I have learned about business promotion and how to take better photos.

6. What is your favorite thing about what you sell?

I love to look at my work and know that others will love it the way that I do. I also really appreciate feedback.

7. What is your favorite item in your own shop and why?

It’s hard for me to choose because I love everything. If I had to narrow it down, it would be the tiles. A number of them are pressed with wildflowers and it reminds me of spring and [not being] snowed in all of the time.

8. What teams do you belong to and what do you like most about them?

I belong to Design Style Guide and the Etsy Mud Team. I like that they have both been great places for learning, sharing and feedback.

9. What is the most fun thing you do to promote your shop?

Getting out to shows and meeting people as well as educating them about what I do.

10. What are some of your favorite finds by other sellers on Etsy?

I love Rob Eastman’s photos, as well as My Two Seasons because I like scrapbooking when I have time. I also really like Clay By Day.

11. What do you do in your spare time?

I love spending time with my family, travelling, having quiet time for reflection, photography, reading and taking care of our pets.

12. Do you have anything else you would like to share?

Thank you so much for interviewing me and visiting my shop. I really appreciate it.

You are most welcome!

Link to original article on Design Style Guide.

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