I'm an amateur potter

Playing in the mud is fun and stimulating

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Nice Glazes

I did another glaze firing in October. (Busy with family and friends and holidays since then.) Several of the pots were glazed similarly. Ida's White is a glaze formula that I got from the Blossom Hills Crafts studio in Los Gatos, CA. It produces a creamy white mat surface. Adding some red iron oxide (RIO) results in a beige color. I added a little too much RIO so the fired glaze was a pretty dark beige - more like brown.

I applied the glazes by dipping. Where the Beige and Ida's white overlap the color is a lighter beige.

A Vase/Jar

The dark spots (freckles) are caused by the iron in the clay body - "Long Beach" from Aardvark.

3-color jar/vase

A Bowl

This one doesn't have freckles because the clay body, "Hopkin's White" from Aardvark, doesn't have iron in it.

3-color bowl
Another view:
3-color bowl

A Pasta Bowl

3-color pasta bowl

A Pitcher

3-color pitcher

2010-12-14 19:31:55 GMT Comments (1 total)
Vegas Red ... or not

One of the glazes sold by Aardvark is called "Vegas Red". It's one of the glazes formulated by Tom Coleman, a local pottery expert. It needs to be fired in a reduction (oxygen starved) environment. So far, I have not had much success.

I tried to do a reduction firing a couple of months ago and the Vegas Red pots came out mostly gray (with hints of red).

Last week I tried a firing procedure used by the University Of California at San Diego's ceramics studio. They have a Geil kiln with an atmosphere controller. That's what I have. The difference is that their's is a DLB-40S (See http://kilns.com) and mine is a smaller DL-18F so I was not surprised when their firing procedure did not work for me. My kiln did not reach the desired temperature within the time allotted so I extended the time. Some of the pots came out mostly gray again.

One of the pots was a large bowl (12 cm high, 32.5 cm wide). Although it did not come out all red it did come out looking good. Here it is. It is resting on a black and white granite counter top.

Top View

Vegas Red bowl top view

Side View

Vegas Red bowl side view

The bowl was thrown using T2 clay from Clay Planet (in San Jose, CA). It is a smooth, tan clay body. The iron from the clay body caused the dark streaks.

I'll try another Vegas Red firing some time but for now I am avoiding it. I'd be interested in hearing how other potters are getting high-fired red results.

2010-10-08 20:28:58 GMT Comments (1 total)
Tall Pitcher/Vase
Tall pitcher

We lived in Illinois one year before moving to California. We were near the Haeger Pottery factory. They produced slip cast vases with vivid colors. We bought 2 of them. One was a tall orange pitcher. We moved that pitcher from old home to new home 5 times before it finally broke. That pitcher was the inspiration for the pitcher shown above. This pitcher is 13.5 inches high and about 4.5 inches wide at the widest point.

For the other potters reading this, notice the spout. I call it a potter's joke because the spout is the natural result of throwing a pot slightly off center. I didn't know that when we got that pitcher from Haeger Pottery but I recognize it now.

2010-09-19 05:31:50 GMT Comments (0 total)
Grecian Urn
Grecian Urn

I made a vase in the traditional Grecian urn shape and added the handles to make it look even more like a Grecian urn. It is 10 inches tall, about 3.5 inches wide at the base and 6 inches wide at the widest point (not counting the handles). It is 9 inches wide from handle to handle. The clay body is Long Beach. The handles, rim and stripe were glazed with Tenmoku then everything was dipped in clear glaze. The clear seems to come out gray and it changes the Tenmoku from a dark red to a black. I like the result.

2010-09-16 12:33:01 GMT Comments (0 total)
Student Pieces
Dish and Bowl by Ruth

My first student, Ruth, has finished a few pots. She has only been a potter for a few weeks. The plate and bowl shown above were made by her. She is a teacher and since school is now starting she will have less time to "play in the mud" but she says she wants to continue.

2010-09-01 22:13:22 GMT Comments (0 total)
Rüdesheim Coffee
Ruedesheim coffee cups

We took a vacation trip up the Rhine River from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Basil in Switzerland in July. One of the stops along the river was Rüdesheim, a city in the wine-producing area of Germany. The region is known for its brandy called "Asbach".

They created a drink called "Rüdesheim Coffee". Here is the recipe:

The hot original

  1. Put three cubes of sugar in an original Rüdesheim Coffee cup, pour over 4 cl well-heated Asbach and light.
  2. Stir and allow to burn for about one minute.
  3. Pour in hot coffee and fill to about 2 cm below the rim.
  4. Place a scoop of whipped cream sweetened with vanilla sugar on top.
  5. Sprinkle with grated dark chocolate.
  6. Drink the hot delight through the cool cream.

I looked at the Rüdesheim Coffee cups and decided that I could make some. I don't know if the size is considered important but to my eyes a Rüdesheim Coffee cup was a round bottom section with a flared rim. The picture shows the ones I made (in front of my 10-year Yahoo! award, an espresso machine).

A cold version of the drink is also possible.

The cool delight

  1. Pour 4 cl Asbach over vanilla ice-cream in a Rüdesheim Coffee cup.
  2. Pour in iced coffee and fill up to just below the rim.
  3. Top with a scoop of whipped cream sweetened with vanilla sugar.
  4. Sprinkle with grated dark chocolate.
  5. Serve with a straw and a spoon.

If you stop by the Coffee Pottery studio you can ask for a Rüdesheim Coffee. We'll make it (if we have the ingredients on hand) in one of these cups.

2010-08-31 17:47:40 GMT Comments (1 total)
More Long Beach

We just got back from a trip up the Rhine from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Basel in Switzerland. So I haven't been creating any new pots for a while. Here are two more from the last batch.

green top vase pretty vase

As you can see, they both have the rough vase body that you saw before. They are both about 7.5 inches tall. The one on the left is about 4 inches in diameter. The one on the right is about 3.5 inches in diameter.

The one on the left had a green engobe applied to the top. (An engobe is a clay slip - runny clay mixture.) Clear glaze was applied over the engobe. The bottom was left as bare clay.

The one on the right was dipped in 2 glazes. The top was dipped in "Sun Valley Rutile" - a glaze that shows different colors depending on the clay body. The bottom was dipped in Navy Blue.

The river boat trip was fun. I came back with some new ideas for creating pots. I'll point them out when the completed pots are ready.

2010-07-24 16:00:02 GMT Comments (0 total)
Around the house

Some of the newly glazed pots are now in various places around our house.

Side Table

Side table display

Our dining room side table has a table runner from our friend Joan and a painting done by another friend, Linda.

Tall vase Mantle vase, other side

The vase on the left is about 12 inches high and 5 inches in diameter at the widest point. The top is glazed with Ida's White and has brown speckles where the iron in the clay burned through. The bottom is Tenmoku, a dark red mat glaze. The band around the middle is Jet Black, a shiny glaze. I left bands above end below the black band un-glazed. I like the look of bare fired clay.

The vase on the right is about 9 inches tall and 4 inches in diameter. Most of the vase is rough, bare clay. I use a tool to make rings around the pot to make the surface rough. The top is glazed with Tortoise Shell. Some of it is dark red, some of it is blue.

Fireplace Mantle

Mantle display

The fireplace mantle has an abstract painting we picked up at Target and a water-color done by a neighbor.

You may recognize the pot on the right from the June 7, 2010 blog entry.

The one on the left is a new one, about 11 inches high and 7.5 inches in diameter.

Mantle vase, one side Mantle vase, other side

The inside is glazed with clear (like almost all my vases). The bottom was dipped on an angle in Tenmoku and the top was dipped on an angle in Ida's White. A bare clay wedge was left between the glazed parts.

End Table

One of the vases from this kiln batch was glazed with Vegas Red on the top. The resulting color almost perfectly matched a lamp on one of our end tables.

Vase with lamp

2010-07-04 20:32:19 GMT Comments (0 total)
New Pots - Long Beach Clay
Five Bowls

This Batch

Did another glaze firing. This kiln load was mostly pots thrown using "Long Beach" clay from Aardvark. It is a light brown clay with a little bit of grog (not completely smooth). It holds its shape well. I threw a bunch of vases and bowls using that clay.

This glaze firing did not go smoothly (again). I'm still learning how to use the Fuji controller on the kiln. My problem was that I programmed the controller to ramp up the temperature too quickly. After six hours the controller figured out that it could not achieve the requested temperature in the allotted time so it shut down. I had to adjust the program and try again. Eventually I will get it right.

These Bowls

The five bowls in the picture are each between 2 and 3 inches tall and about 7.5 inches in diameter. They are suitable for nuts or candy or small serving bowls.

Ida's White

White bowl with brown specs

This is my favorite. The iron in the Long Beach clay (that's what gives it the light brown color) burns through the Ida's white glaze giving it brown specks.

Vegas Red

Bowl - white outside, red inside

This one has Ida's white outside and Vegas Red inside. The Vegas Red glaze was not evenly applied so it "crawled" some leaving a few bare clay spots on the inside of the bowl.


White bowl - not smooth

This was glazed using the "Clear Base" glaze from Aardvark. The glaze actually looks light gray when fired in a reduction environment. This bowl appears to have been in a cooler part of the kiln because the glaze is not smooth (not fully melted). It actually gives the bowl an interesting look.

Double Dip

Dark and light bowl

This bowl was dipped into Navy Blue glaze from one side and Vegas Red glaze from the other side. The Navy Blue in a reduction firing comes out almost black. The Vegas Red is a very temperamental glaze. If it is fired too long or too hot it turns gray. If it is not thick enough it is also gray. So only part of the outside of the bowl is red. The final result is still interesting.

Snake Skin

Gray and blue bowl

This bowl was dipped in clear base glaze and then the rim was dipped in Navy Blue. Like the clear bowl above this bowl appears to have been in a cooler part of the kiln. The result is a lumpy (not smooth) surface. When I showed it to my wife she thought it looked like snake skin. I like the effect.

Other Pots

Many of the other pots from this firing are also interesting. I'll share them in other blog entries.

2010-07-03 18:36:20 GMT Comments (0 total)
Garden Pot
Large brown pot by vine

One of the pots in the first glaze firing is a large pot (12 inches high, 9 inches wide). I dipped the top in a brown glaze ("Tortoise shell") and let it drip over the bottom part that was dipped in a clear glaze. The result was was not particularly pretty but it looks nice in the flower bed under the Jasmine vine.

2010-06-15 23:00:41 GMT Comments (0 total)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.