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.