I leave Monday for my summer retreat to the Cotswolds (that’s England don’t you know!) where I’ll spend a month with Toff and Georgie Milway, beating the heat of Virginia and enjoying the company of my many friends there. When I return I must turn my mind to some serious wheel throwing to prepare for the 2nd annual “Pottery on the Hill” show in D.C.
This has not been a big year for pot making with workshops in East Lansing and Penland, my trip to the St Croix show in Minnesota and selling Libertytown all filling up the time.
But I have been playing with a new variation on an old theme of mine and these slab dishes are the result. Mostly to amuse myself I have long made a body of work that I refer to as ‘Bedrock’ pots. Rough and stressed and often massive, they are the polar opposite of my finely wrought functional work. I have always kept a number of different explorations going with clay. It is too great a material to limit oneself!
So, here is my summer tile and slab works…an old laboratory table top with a well liner as a base…
…And…my favorite…my mortuary sink 8′ of enameled cast iron goodness! I don’t reuse my scrap clay to make new pots with…rather I dry it out in the tub and break it into chunks and then add several buckets of coarse wood shavings before slaking it all down and ‘harvesting’ it when it is still a bit sloppy.
I have made a bunch of these tile frames and I soak them in water before using them. Lately I’ve been coating the inner edge of the frame with sand from the property to help with the ‘release’.
I tried these little ‘l’ brackets as handles, but I don’t like them. I have another idea to help remove the frames a little cleaner. This frame is set on a piece of concrete backer board.
Then I sprinkle dry clay inside.
I just put a big handful in and then work it to try and fill the frame well. But I don’t strive for perfection….it’s the anomalies that I think make these work for me.
Here I’ve finished forcing in…in the old days they called the stick I use for leveling a ‘slicker stick’.
Scraped and compressed.
I place a board on top and press it down while lifting the frame off.
I use a piece of newsprint to keep the board on top from sticking.
|I then let them get stiff-ish.
This is a tile after I’ve flipped it back over with the dry clay on the surface.
I place a piece of wood (or two) in the middle.
And then I flip it over again, gently persuading the slab to bend over the wood form and give it shape. I use a paddle and or a paint roller to help give the curves that I want.
|These are thick!
Once again I flip the slab back with my foam to maintain the shape.
And then remove the wood block.
I’m trying different proportions of blocks/frames and having a great time. Lots of these small ones will be stacked on edge on the bagwall. I intend to glaze the inside square and leave the rest to the wood and salt.