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~ 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.

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