The Darn Process

As a teacher, I had become so accustomed to showing and explaining clay techniques to everyone at the studio, I practically had to sit down today when I overheard a couple of ladies at the co-op gallery. “Every potter has a secret process. Don’t ask, they won’t tell you anyway.”  They got an earful! To think that anything could still be a secret in a 30,000 year old process is preposterous it itself. Add to that, the internet and most potters’ effusive nature, and what you’ve got is the world’s biggest, most poorly indexed and utterly self-contradictory manual on “how a pot is made”. To add to this cacophony, I figure it might be time to post a few pictures of my own darn pottery process.

Darn pottery drape molds
I use just about every technique available to potters. For me, it’s always easier to make round things on the wheel. Square plates, serving boats, oval platters are handbuilt using slabs and home-made bisque and plaster molds.
Darn Pottery Process
I roll out slabs of clay by hand (no room for a slab roller!) and drape them until leather hard. Feet, handles and other accoutrements are attached when the piece has stiffened sufficiently.

 

Darn Pottery process
Leather hard pieces are trimmed and edges are made smooth
Pieces are left to dry to almost bone-dry consistency on drywall boards
Pieces are left to dry to almost bone-dry consistency on drywall boards

 

Darn Pottery Process
Now the fun begins in earnest. I love how the stiff white slip leaves brush marks on the surface of the pot. The color is put on top of the slip for depth.

 

I bisque fire to cone 06, about 1820 degrees. Once the pieces have cooled, they are removed from the kiln, glazed and refired to cone 04, or 1945 degrees.
I bisque fire to cone 06, about 1820 degrees. Once the pieces have cooled, they are removed from the kiln, glazed and refired to cone 04, or 1945 degrees.

 

All of the images start out as pen and pencil drawings. The images are transferred to specialty paper coated with gum arabic. A covercoat is silkscreened on top to enable the transfer process.
All of the images start out as pen and pencil drawings. The drawings are printed with ceramic glaze and transferred to specialty paper coated with gum arabic. A covercoat is silkscreened on top to enable the transfer process. Here they are drying on a screen rack.
The silkscreened image is transferred to the glazed piece and fired for the third time to 1945 to permanently set into the glaze.
The drawings are cut out and individually applied to the glazed pieces. They are then fired for the third time to 1945 degrees to permanently set into the glaze. Pieces are food and dishwasher safe and most importantly, fun to use!