Signing the bottom of our pieces is likely a more important step of the process than you might think. It's often overlooked and if we do think about it, our focus is on our ability to show off our piece's unique, handmade quality by an original, handwritten signature and sometimes a number.
We should think again...
We need to think of the mark on the bottom of our pieces as an opportunity to share our work and allow customers to trace us back so they can buy from us again. And again. Annnd again.
I clearly remember the time that I had a beautiful fruit bowl given to us as a wedding gift. I loved the soft blue and white glazes melting together and wanted to check out the artist and buy additional pieces!
However, when I turned the bowl over to look at the bottom and find out who made it, the signature left me guessing. I couldn’t make out the name at all, and was never able to get connected with the artist. This was such a shame, because I would have loved to support and...
One of the best things about being a potter is we have the chance to create one-of-a-kind pieces that can never be exactly duplicated. We love this about pottery, don't we? When we create a piece that is truly one-of-a-kind and we're finally holding it in our hands, it can be a really precious experience. There's nothing like that emotion - it's so satisfying!
But on the other hand, that feeling can also be dangerous because us potters can get really attached to the pieces we make and if we let it, our attachment to our pottery can hold us back from our creativity.
I remember sitting in a pottery lesson, staring at my bisqued pots, completely scared to experiment with different glaze combinations because I didn’t want to ‘ruin’ my pots. I sat there thinking, “‘I’ve spent so much time throwing, trimming and perfecting these, I don’t want to make a mistake with glazing them now.” So I carefully picked the glaze colour I knew that I...
Have you ever had it, that moment of truth, when you wait so patiently for the kiln to cool, counting down the temperature to be able to crack that lid and take a peek inside? Sheer excitement, just like Christmas morning, you can’t wait to see the pots you spent so many hours, days, and weeks creating.
As you open the lid and look down at the shelf of pots, it becomes obvious that many of your pieces are no longer nice and round, but horribly ovaled at the rim. Devastation hits you. So much effort has gone into those pieces, so many pieces that aren’t top quality products to be able to sell, and why is this happening? The questions come flooding in, the frustrations hit you, and you feel like closing the kiln and walking away, wishing those pots would just fix themselves.
Warping: we all hate it! It's something that doesn't show up until the end of the process, after so much time has already been invested into the piece and it can no longer be...
Before we even talk about making slip casting molds, we need to discuss something important, your prototype. This is what you will make your mold from (some people call it a model)
Why is your prototype so important? It dictates what your cast product will be. If you have marks, rough spots, or unintentional lines on your prototype, it will show up in your cast. If you don’t make your prototype right, it won’t release from the mold.
In my several years of mold making, I have learned along the way some helpful tips to making successful prototypes. So, I’ve decided to share these with you today!
#1. Use a smooth, white clay
Using a white porcelain or very smooth white stoneware clay is better than using a grog red or brown clay. The porcelain clay is easier to get perfectly smooth. If you use a grog clay, those little tiny beads of grit are hard to smooth out and can show in the plaster mold, and in your cast piece.
Using a white clay will make...
You might be interested in slip casting, but unsure how to go about getting your studio ready to start such a task.
If that’s the case, I am going to share with you how I set up my studio for slip casting. It really isn’t as complicated or expensive as you might think, all it takes is a little creativity to transform your space and create your own tools and equipment, which I know you already have!
SPACE for casting: Molds take up more room than sitting down and throwing at the wheel. You will need some table space to set your molds on while they cast. If you don’t have a table, not to fret, you can improvise - floor space works fine, too! Or use a portable folding table. They come in many lengths to fit what works for you and can be removed when not needed.
PAILS for slip: Your slip will likely come in boxes or in a bag inside a pail. Having some good pails on hand will be extremely helpful for you. I prefer a 3.5 gallon sized pail as it...
3 Slip Casting Myths Debunked
What slip casting actually is versus what you might think it is. I'm going to dive into:
I want to start with asking you a question. What is your honest opinion on slip casting? I have seen a wide range of opinions on this topic and I’m eager to dive in and talk about them with you.
A while ago, I opened up Instagram on my phone and checked my notifications. Usually I love checking my notifications and seeing who comments, asks questions or wants to chat! But one particular comment on one of my posts about slip casting stood out to me and took me back. The comment said: "Slip casting is for those who don't know how to throw."
My first thought was, really? Think that's what this is about?...
I have something super exciting to share with you! I haven’t shared very much on this topic before, but decided it was time to let you in on my own little world and give you a...
TOUR OF MY STUDIO!
This is really special because I have never shared these details before. And I really hope watching a tour of my studio and hearing how I have laid it out will help you with planning your own studio space.
WHAT MAKES MY STUDIO SPECIAL?
My studio is a bit unique, or should I say TINY! And I still have been able to produce thousands upon thousands of pieces in it, attend numerous craft shows, and serve over 50 different retailers in North America with my products.
I’ve mastered cramming a lot of stuff in one small space let me tell you.
I want to walk you through my studio because I think you can relate. You don’t have to have a big fancy studio to start or lots of space, or even running water. And I hope...
Slip casting is a process that uses a form of clay that is liquid. The liquid clay gets poured into a plaster mold. As the time progresses with the slip in the mold, the plaster draws out liquid from the slip. This leaves a clay wall against the inside of the plaster mold. Once sufficient time has passed that the slip has sat in the mold and the clay wall is the desired thickness, the excess slip gets poured out of the mold. The mold is then left to dry until the clay form inside the mold releases from the plaster and shrinks enough to be removed from the mold.
Slip casting molds are becoming increasingly popular among potters. Slip casting allows more difficult and detailed forms to be produced at an easier level. It opens up the opportunity to create non-round forms (like the wheel produces) at a much faster rate than hand building and altering forms. It also makes the construction process simplified allowing for more...