Big Pots, Shellac Resist, and the Flu

Why did I make big pots the first day of the flu?  Well I knew I was only going to get sicker, so while I could, I made ten little pitchers, five large urns for resist work, and three other large urns.  The second day of the flu I made lids, and slept. The third day I trimmed all the pots, and slept.  The fourth day I slept, trimmed lids, joined knobs, and carved urns.  The remaining ten days I’ve slept, carved urns, took photo’s and slept…  and vowed to get a flu shot next year!

Here are some nice shots of the urns in process.  It’s a very long process, between the throwing, trimming, and carving the feet and rim.  Once the pot dries completely liquid wax resist is brushed on to create the floral pattern.  (This process is known as shellac resist or hydro abrasion).  Then comes the long process of rubbing away the clay with a sponge, (which I thought would be a nice sitting down job while not having much energy).  Where there is no resist the clay slowly gets etched away.

willow watching tall urns freshly thrown

Just finished carving_lucy fagella Tall Urns Drying_Lucy Fagella

The carving process_lucy fagella details_lucy fagella Large Urns Drying_lucy fagella

Here is a finished mini version of the large urn… a little keepsake in my son Andrew’s hands. To see more of these and other urns visit my website and or LuciaUrns on etsy.

White on White Petite Keepsake_Lucy Fagella 

If you want to see a nice little video on this method, check out Ron Philbeck  , “Hydro Abrasion”  He explains it very well!  http://youtu.be/d_HHrNdPGIk

 

Carving Pots

When I make my urns I tend to do a lot of carving into them, it may be as simple as carved leaves or as complex as a four-footed form.

I have been very busy the past couple of months just trying to keep up with the many orders for urns.  Every now and then I’ll get a commission for a personalized urn.   Here are a couple of photos of a footed urn being carved for a dog name Winslow, and a carved leaf urn for cat named Ruphus!

Tiny Lidded Pots… Keepsakes

Have you ever tried making really tiny lidded pots?  It ain’t easy.  I remember when I was in high school, seeing a Ceramics Monthly magazine with an article about a woman who made teeny, tiny little pots for doll houses.  I couldn’t believe anyone could work that small, I still can’t.  The images of those pots just stick in my mind.  Well these pots of mine are not that small, but are tiny… approximately 2.5″. 

You would think, the smaller the pot, the easier it would be to make, and it should probably be very inexpensive.  I have been making these tiny keepsakes the past few months and have realized the effort and loss factor in trimming a pot and lid that is less than a 1/4 lb is very time-consuming! 

These little cuties are named Petite Keepsakes and are listed on my urns page of my website.  (I hope to get these new photos on the website soon).   These are made with the intention of  holding a precious memory, like a piece of jewelry, a poem, a love note, or storing a tiny bit of ashes from a loved one who has passed on.

 

Making and Marketing… Etsy to Urns

So my etsy shop is open, with just eight things so far, hopefully more to come this week.  I’m overwhelmed.  You start one new thing and your focus goes totally there…  everything else drops off.  It happened when I started blogging, then facebook, now etsy.  Etsy is a good thing, but takes so much time to photograph everything well, and to network well.  And it’s only going to be a good thing if you do all these things well.  I’m finding it to be like all other marketing… it all takes time… time that I never seem to have enough of!

On top of trying to get the etsy shop started last week, the making of pottery couldn’t stop.  I shipped out four cremation urns in two days, that rarely happens, and it made me realize how low my stock of urns is.  So I made quite a few urns last week, some are quite large… it is physically very tiring.  Then there is the whole emotional aspect of making urns, I will have another whole post on that soon.

Resist Design on Porcelain

The last couple of posts I talked about the tall urn forms I am making, and the many steps involved.  This next step is what I consider just plain boring! ( I think I need a book on CD to listen to).  This is the part where I sit for hours rubbing away the clay which is not covered by the resist design. I cannot do them all in one day, I’ll go crazy. ( Maybe I should think of it as meditation instead).  I take many breaks, as I have seven of these urns to complete, plus six little ones.   I”ll take about a week to finish them, doing one a day, in between all my other work.  Here are some photos of this part of the process.  You can see the finished piece on my website.

Resist Design

Piece on the left with clay wiped away

Ready for the Bisque Firing

 

 

Clover Leaf Urn

Back in March I talked about tiles, patterns, and sketches for larger pieces.  I showed a picture of a new clover leaf pattern urn drying… well here is the finished product!   This is a pattern I have been using for years is various ways on clay.  The repetitive stamped pattern has always intrigued me in the way it creates an optical illusion between positive and negative space. 

 

This piece and lots of other goodies will be on the new website coming soon! 

White on White Pottery/Snow Falling

Maybe I’m influenced by my surroundings… ya think?  I have lots of shades of green pottery, and shades of white.  Everytime I look out my studio window I see the field, and woods… that’s either green or white!  Ok sometimes brown… and I do have a few brown pots!   The latest forms from this  winter are a new series of white on white urns.  The pieces are approx. a foot in height, thrown on the wheel, trimmed, dried, then the pattern painted on with a resist (like shellac, or wax).  Once the shellac dries the exposed clay is rubbed away with a wet sponge.  It is a long and laborious process, giving beautiful results. 

White on White Vine, Lucia Pottery

 

  

One of my Sketches in Clay

When ever I make a new form it starts in the sketchbook, then goes to a “sketch in clay”.  This is especially true for making very large urns.  The first thing I’ll do is make a small prototype, with a lid or handle that is quickly pinched or rolled.  I may do this several times to see what type of handle/lid fits with the form.  I then make a another small more finished looking piece.  This piece will go through to the glaze firing.  At this point I can really see if the glaze I had in mind from my sketchbook drawing will work with the form.  It is here that I make my decision to go for the larger form, or to scrap the idea.   Here is one of the finished sketches.  I have decided to move forward with this idea, and to make a variation of it which you can see in the last post in the greenware stage. 

Clover Leaf Pattern

I have been using metal stamps for years on my pottery.  They are from an old Tap and Die factory here in Greenfield Ma.  I love the fact then when you use a stamp, another whole pattern appears other than the stamp itself.  With this particular cross like stamp the negative space becomes a clover leaf  image.  It starts to play with your eyes creating an optical illusion.  These are tiles I make with this pattern.  I’ve always loved them and wanted to more with this pattern on a larger surface. 

 

I had mentioned in an earlier post that January was the time I catch up on making new urn forms.  Here is one with the clover leaf pattern, drying by my sunny window. 

The Covered Container

As a utilitarian potter I seem to make a lot of covered containers.  I really enjoy making them, yet I remember as a student they were the dreaded project.  (Just as they seem to be for my current students!)  They are definitely one of the more challenging forms.  I remember back to my Junior Pots class at Alfred with Val Cushing; he had us focus on making those lids become one with the form underneath it, and it’s his voice that I remember so often as I am fitting those lids.

Below are a few of my cremation urns drying for this weeks bisque.  These urns are approximately 12″ tall.  Along side these urns are my teeny, tiny covered salt cellars, about 2″ tall.  These are new little forms which I’m having some fun with.