Using stains to enhance your work and define texture.

For the last few years I have been working with oxide stains and have enjoyed the results.  I mostly use red iron oxide and back wipe it once applied to bring out the highlights in texture patterns I press into the clay on the work.  When fired in reduction the oxide goes to a leather looking color that I find appealing. I choose functional forms that can be used with no glaze and simply just stain. Things like  shave brush handles, the outside of mugs , bowls, and handles I leave raw at times to stain.

I found early on a problem traditional wet shavers had been that glazed shave bowls were slippery and users would drop them in the sink.  This allowed me to work up a design with texture patterns on the outside of the bowls to help with grip and I decided to leave the outside raw to give it a rustic look.  I then used red iron oxide to bring out the texture patterns in a more pronounced way. I was able to experiment with many patterns and styles over the years and also save money as I was only glazing half the pot. Red Iron Oxide was far cheaper than any glaze recipe but just took a bit longer to apply.

I also enjoyed seeing the raw clay next to glazed areas and patterned areas in contrast to smooth. I found that lettering looked quite nice when red iron oxide is applied and wiped back leaving the valleys dark and peaks a lighter color.

Applying Stain to the pots.

I put some red iron oxide powder in a dish and add water. The more iron the darker. So at times I may add less or more water depending on the look I might be going for. I then apply the red iron oxide wash with a brush on the bisque ware then back wipe with a sponge. After I am done applying the wash I let the pots dry some and then glaze the other areas last if I decide to glaze at all.

The end result can be quite amazing. I do enjoy seeing the toasty brown color of the clay after opening the gas kiln after the glaze firing. For classes, I give it is possible to have the students make pinch pot planters and have them impress texture patterns in them and later bisque fire and stain them. This can be done for those who wish to only take one class and only return for pickup. In the video here I am loading the kiln full of stained pinch pots done by students. The outcome was quite nice! Below is an example of student work from my last class. The possibilities are endless on how to use stains to make work look interesting and communicate without using glaze. Have you ever used stains? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

I was invited by the Bradford County Regional Arts Council to have a pinch pot class in the historic Keystone Theatre

 

The event was called Thursdays in the Studio and was held on May 13th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. It was an enjoyable time for sure and I was able to meet a few other local artists from the area who attended the class. We all made three pinch pot planters each and then pressed texture marks into the clay.  There were many creative ideas for impressions as some used shells, stones, stamps, and other used leaves and plant material.  The plants will burn off in the hot kiln but should leave nice impressions.

 

Some makers created pots that were somewhat taller to be used as vases. The pots will be put though two firings. The first is a bisque fire and then after staining them with red iron oxide they will be fired once more in a higher temperature glaze firing.  Participating in events again together with community was so much fun as many were canceled or postponed due to the pandemic. I was able to get all the little pots home without issue. Jokes were made at the class about living in the country and swerving to miss deer with driving home.  It is always nerve wracking driving with pots.  I placed them all in bread racks and stacked them up in the trunk of my car.

 

Keystone Theatre in Towanda, PA was built in 1886 and was formally called Hale’s Opera House. In 1988 funds were raised by Bradford County Regional Arts Council to restore the historical site. You may read more in the history of the building at the link here. The Bradford County Regional Arts Council  is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building and supporting an arts community, supporting the Arts, and preserving Bradford County’s historic theaters as centers for performances, community events and showing movies. To learn more about classes, performances,  events, or to support the Bradford County Regional Arts Council visit their website by clicking here.

 

 

The Mother/Daughter Pinch Pot Class At Harper Hill Crafts

I was honored to have a pinch pot class back home in my childhood town of Susquehanna, PA.

Melissa Dubas  of Harper Hill Crafts thought it would be fun to do a mother/daughter succulent pinch pot class for Mother’s Day.  She was right!
The class filled up quite fast and 16 people had a fun time making up three little pinch pots and impressing patterns and designs into them.

We all took little lumps of clay and worked out the insides then formed the little pots into all kinds of interesting shapes.  Some took the project another direction and created little wall hangings for plants. Then objects pressed into the clay like stones, stamps, and rollers to create interesting designs and textures. It will take the pots at least two weeks to dry before they are stained with red iron oxide and fired out in the gas kiln. Using the stain will bring out the texture patterns and make them more pronounced so each impression and fingerprint left will tell a little story about the creator and the fun time we all had with those who are a part of the Harper Hill Crafts community.

Melissa and Harper Hill Crafts have been doing craft workshops providing a space to be creative with both private and public events to bring community together.  At Harper Hill Crafts you will also find a gift shop filled with home decor items and gifts. Plans are also being made for a coffee house and shop.

Melissa also sponsors events in the town of Susquehanna in an effort to revitalize the historical railroad town.  The next event that is planned is Susquehanna in Bloom- Main Street Market that will take place May 16th 2021 at 11:00am

Thanks so much to Harper Hill Crafts and shop owner Melissa for selling my pots in your shop and inviting me back home to share a fun time with you all!  Now I am under a lot of pressure to fire the kiln right and hope everything turns out without blowing up.

Bowls Before Work 2/25/2021

Critical Tasks: Complete 2 throwing Session and Sleep for work 12 hour nights at the paper factory. <– Completed

 

Secondary Tasks: Cover work so pots don’t dry out to fast. <—Completed

 

If I was living yesterday a second time:
I would have done everything the same as far as clay work and glad I stuck it out making the bowls. I also think I would have made better decisions at work troubleshooting.

 

Things I enjoyed:
I had a nice cup of coffee and some raisin bread at 4:00 am on quick break my wife packed. Also when I left work in the morning at 6: 00 am it was a full moon. In some strange way I enjoyed all the action at work. I did meet my goal of tossing 50 lbs of bowls before work the last 6 were the hardest as I was getting happy for it to be the end but felt great that I met the goal. Like a runner sprinting in the last stretch of the race to some finish line.

 

My story summary:
I was able to compete 2 throwing sessions of bowls in the morning before sleeping for night shift at the paper factory. I now have over 100 for the Spring show and now can start bakers. We had a bad time at work due to issues. I didn’t get to many breaks as things kept going bad. I think after a long time even the hardships are looked back on as enjoyable.

A Family Visit – 2/24/2021

 

Critical tasks:

I had the day off from the paper factory and I was planning to have 3 two hour sessions throwing bowls for my Spring open studio show. <— Got in one session of 18 bowls as I shut down for the mom visit.

Secondary Tasks:

Unload kiln/ update my website/ unlock my sales tax account <— Completed

I had to move everything as mom stopped by. When dad & mom stop by I shut the whole place down as mom is 86 and loves to be a big part of everything. We chatted a whole bunch over coffee and tea and then went to the little diner in town for lunch. Before they came I got all the secondary tasks done and took a break to answer questions facebook. I then had a throwing session from 9 pm to 10 pm and made up 18 soup bowls.

If I was living yesterday a second time:

I would have still shut down the whole place for the Mom and Dad visit. As they are the best parents ever and got us into all types of things and still are there for all of us as they are able. We had a real fun time as kids even though we were broke. I think I could have done a throwing session in the morning before they showed up to get at least one more critical task done as if I am not making pots on the wheel that means the amount of pots I would like to have for the show are not getting done. I would have still unloaded the bisque fire as that went real long due to everything steaming out.

Things I enjoyed:

I enjoyed visiting and having lunch out with my Mum and Dad and Mum said she would be up to help me with the Spring show and said she had an outfit pick out to match the glazes I would be running, as dad rolled his eyes. Haaa!. So come hell or high water that show will happen for that reason alone and will be worth it even if I only sell one thing. I had a fun time updating the website.

My Story Summary:

Family is very important to me. I found I can now toss 18 pots and hour with at 1.5 lbs is just a bit over a bag of clay. My wife had a great idea on bundling pots. My ideal customer Mrs. Davis loves bundles of things so Holiday bundles might be the way to go.

A Wet Kiln Firing – 2/23/2021

Yesterday I had the day off from my job at the paper factory. At 8:00 am I went and filled 3 gas canisters at Tractor Supply because they charge by the gallon and not by the fill and it’s much cheaper. They also fill them all the way up. I loaded 10 raku pots for bisque and could not fit all 13 in. I normally fire with a full shelf 1.5 inches down from the lid but the pots were to tall so I over fired the bottom to make up for it. They will be fine as they are somewhat large raku.

I ran a 2 hour warm up to let the kiln steam out a bit and went through the firing process. Hour 2 I found a leak at the tank nozzle and had to switch it out and restart the firing. I did a slow climb until the cone 06 bent all the way down at 5:00pm.

I got no other critical tasks completed as the gas kiln needs to be monitored every 30 min which is how I caught the leak. Some of the pots were a bit heavy also but having them on the woodstove was a huge time saver and help in drying them.

If I was living a second time:

I would have held off the firing until today as I could have used the day to throw and trimmed pots today between checks. I would have help to pull that person out of the ditch as 10 years ago a kind guy did the same for me. Knocking on doors 6 am to ask to borrow a chain. Out there that was a good way to get shot at but kind and I never forgot. In the winter out here a person should always have winter clothing, boots, gloves, snow shovel and chain in the trunk. I took out all that to load in the propane tanks. I would have got hoses to connect to the large tank as driving to get propane is a huge effort and time loss.
Things I enjoyed:
I enjoyed steaming out that wet kiln even though it was more effort and seemed to take a bit longer. Between checks I watch youtube instructional videos and spent time with the wife. After the kiln went down The wife and I went out to eat and food shopping. I talked to my sister from Update NY for 30 min. When My wife was ready I went in the store to help a bit as I try to stay out of the way. She lets me pick out the Mrs. Dash seasoning, meats , and coffee.

On the way home there was a lady who was stuck real bad in a ditch. I drove home and got my snow shovel and chain and winter gear while my wife unloaded the groceries. Then I went back out and a few other were there with one chain but it was not long enough. I used my shovel and with my chain added the two kids that stopped were able to show off a bit by pulling the lady out. So in short they had a truck pull at 9:00pm on a corner. They must have known each other as they were talking a bit of smack and the one kid said that he would let the other guy go first and finish the job when they both end up stuck..I’m thinking maybe a Ford/Chevy riverly.

My Story Summary:

Getting scheduled tasks completed can be a challenge. There will be plenty of resistance to working new ways and getting use to keeping on track.  There is only so much time in the bank and you should spend each penny of they in ways that are productive and enjoyable. If you do not make your own journey and plan others will make them for you no trouble. But you may regret not having a choice in the matter later.  What hero’s journey are you on?

 

A Wet Kiln – 2/22/2021

Yesterday after 12 hours work at the paper plant I had dinner with my wife for an hour then had to dig out my gas kiln Hera from the snow bank.

I realized I also left my shelves out there and the lid was stuck. I put the burner under and ran it on low for 2 hours to warm things up and to u freeze the lid. I also had to build a fire in the big wood stove to dry the shelves but all the wood was wet from being buried in the snow. I had to use my winter camping skills to start the wet wood by splitting it enough to give the flame a dry edge to start. I put the shelves inside to dry out.

If I were living today a second time:

I would have covered everything before we had snow and brought the shelves inside. As it took until 1am to get done. Huge effort loss on time. I also need to put up a kiln shed ASAP and get my big kiln Rosie hooked up to the big tank.

The things I enjoyed:

I was reading “Indestractable” by Nir Eyal on my breaks. I took the scenic route home from work and watched a YouTube show with the wife. I also did enjoy all my sufferings in some strange way. I super need to get it together. Hope to get the bisque firing going.

My story summary:

I have a huge problem with effort loss due to poor planning and decision making that is costing me a ton of money effort and time. Also I need to weigh opportunity cost. Just because it sounds like a good idea it does not mean it will be.

Bowls Trimmed –2/21/2021

I think I did a bit better today showing up for myself. I worked 12 hours at the paper factory and had those 50 bowls drying out I was able to get 36 trimmed so I would have tiles to toss more tomorrow. I planned to work from 8pm to 10pm for myself but fell asleep a bit.

If I were living a second time I would have ordered another load of wood for the stove as I was freezing my tail off. You can trim pots with a glove on.

Today I enjoyed dinner with my wife and trimming the pots. I’ll see how tomorrow goes.

I need a life plan I think. If you don’t have one others will waste not time in making one for you.

54 Bowls Done –2/20/2021

I was able to get 54 bowls done for the Spring 2012 Show. I could do another 20 but should spend time talking to my wife and petting the cats and all. I was up early and should have started at 8:00 am but goofed around on social media until 10:00 am. I need to show up for myself on time. I show up on time when working my job but not for myself.

I need to practice more with that. But overall I did get 3 primary task throwing sessions in. If I’m throwing that means I am making pots for people to enjoy and not being defined by my job at the paper factory.

If I wrote my obituary and read it every day I might remember to get off facebook and get into the studio.

Kick the winter blues for some greens here at Creek Road Pottery on The Bunny Trail 2021
March 19th -21st 9:00 A.M. -3:00 P.M.
Spring is a great time to bake a casserole or shepards pie with a warm bowl of homemade soup on the side. When these comfort foods are baked and served in authentic handmade local pottery
it’s a great way to live a lifestyle with art that’s affordable.
I am currently creating bowls & bakers here at the pottery to help you enjoy those dishes of early Spring like you saved on your pinterest board.
Stop in and say hello! I very much enjoy being your local pot dealer.
Artist/Owner
Al Wayman
Creek Road Pottery LLC