Friday, January 7, 2011

Challenges, sigh

Being a newish Year, it seems a good time to take aim at some new pottery challenges!

Definition of a challenge: problem you haven't yet given up on.

The first one is that #$%$##@# rectangular butter dish. Super Helper really thinks we should make these as she gets regular requests for them (she owns a shop), and I have to admit, I have had requests too. We made a stab at them last year, but didn't get very far. So we're trying it again. I made a mold for the upper part (a comedy of errors involving a too-large master shape, a sharp saw and much sanding) and she made a template for the clay. You can see one of the dishes she made this week on the table in the picture below. Now if we all cross our fingers, maybe they will shrink to the right size.

The other challenge is Bonsai pots. I have a friend who keeps asking me for pots for his bonsai. Trouble is, hand-building is not my long suit and I can't see any other way to make straight-sided rectangular pots. So it's learning time around here! High time I learned to make a square pot, right? Anyway, here are the first efforts:

(Note the butter dish hiding behind the bonsai pot in the foreground.)

(Note also the efficient, scientifically precise and highly detailed engineering drawing ....)

So far they seem to be working, but they aren't quite dry yet so there is still the possibility of cracking, especially at the corners, and of the feet falling off, which is what I seem to recall is what feet  mostly want to do.

Once they are bisqued, I then get the nice challenge of glazing them..... here I really need to do some serious testing of colour/glaze combinations. Not to mention figuring out how to handle oddball shapes with holes in the bottom, and, later, really large shapes. The ones above are only about a foot square, but a lot of bonsai pots are much larger. How the heck will I glaze a pot 24" by 18"??

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