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July/August 2013


Doug Peltzman’s Juice Cups Also in this issue . . . Finessing Flared Forms Loose-Leaf Teapots Fermenting Crocks

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America’s Most Trusted Glazes™

Reduction Looks At Low Fire A-66 Burnt Orange _____ O-11 White Clover


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PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

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A-66 Layering Notes: Apply two base coats of Opalescents. (Allow glaze to dry between coats.) Apply one coat of Artist’s Choice. Clay: Amaco Red Clay No. 67


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PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


July/August 2013 Volume 16 Number 4



12 Additions to Clay Bodies by Kathleen Standen Create great clay textures with everything from garden greens to crushed crockery.


17 Finessing Flared Forms by Royce Yoder Tips for throwing wider and larger bowls and platters.

22 To a Tea by Doug Peltzman Advanced surface techniques using wax and latex resists over incised lines.


29 Slipcasting with Colored Clay by Peter Pincus Color, cast, cut, repeat for deeper surface designs.

35 Loose-Leaf Teapots by Clay Cunningham Add an infuser to your teapot forms for a better cup of tea.

In the Studio 8 Crazed by Deanna Ranlett


10 By the Board by Glenn Woods 41 A World of Ideas by David Gamble

Inspiration 44 In the Kitchen Fermenting Crocks by Sumi von Dassow 48 Pottery Illustrated Flower Bricks & Tulipieres by Robin Ouellette

29 On the Cover Doug Peltzman’s juice cups, high-fire


porcelain with inlaid slip, glaze, fired in an electric kiln to cone 8, 2013, on p. 22. PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


fired up | Commentary Volume 16 • Number 4


Publisher Charles Spahr Editorial Editor Bill Jones Associate Editor Holly Goring Associate Editor Jessica Knapp Administrative Specialist Linda Stover

When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. —Walt Disney Curiosity is one of the driving forces that makes working with clay so interesting and entertaining. We basically enjoy poking, prodding, throwing, altering, glazing, and decorating clay according to a plan, but our enthusiasm builds as we find new ways to create by simply asking “what if?” or “I wonder?” These are the questions that lead us down new paths of discovery. One of the best things about curiosity is that it makes us interested in a broad range of information about clay. We enjoy looking at all kinds of ceramics from sculptures to mugs, as well as all types of techniques whether we intend to use them right away or not. It’s the joy of learning that makes us want to keep going. Here’s a sampling of some of the things you may be curious about that you’ll find in this issue: l What can you add to clay to give it texture or color? l How far can you extend a flared rim without it collapsing? l How do you get fine black lines for a decoration? Telephone: (614) 794-5869 Fax: (614) 891-8960

Graphic Design & Production Melissa Bury Production Associate Erin Pfeifer Marketing Steve Hecker Circulation Manager Sandy Moening Ceramics Arts Daily Managing Editor Jennifer Poellot Harnetty Webmaster Scott Freshour Advertising Advertising Manager Mona Thiel Advertising Services Jan Moloney Telephone: (614) 794-5834 Fax: (614) 891-8960

Subscriptions Customer Service: (800) 340-6532

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600 N. Cleveland Ave., Suite 210 Westerville, OH 43082 USA

Pottery Making Illustrated (ISSN 1096-830X) is published bimonthly by The American Ceramic Society, 600 N. Cleveland Ave., Suite 210, Westerville, OH 43082. Periodical postage paid at Westerville, Ohio, and additional mailing offices. Opinions expressed are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent those of the editors or The American Ceramic Society.

Subscription rates: 6 issues (1 yr) $24.95, 12 issues (2

yr) $39.95, 18 issues (3 yr) $59.95. In Canada: 6 issues (1 yr) US$30, 12 issues (2 yr) US$55, 18 issues (3 yr) US$80. International: 6 issues (1 yr) US$40, 12 issues (2 yr) US$70, 18 issues (3 yr) US$100. All payments must be in US$ and drawn on a U.S. bank. Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.

l What happens when you brush color on molds? l What causes a glaze to craze? l What if you used clay instead of paper for sketching?

Change of address: Visit to

l How do you make a sauerkraut jar and sauerkraut?

change your address, or call our Customer Service toll-free at (800) 340-6532. Allow six weeks advance notice.

l What’s a tulipiere?

The list could go on, but each of the questions is answered in this issue. An excerpt from Kathleen Standen’s new book Additions to Clay Bodies scratches the surface of this exciting technique, and Doug Peltzman (on the cover) literally scratches the surface with his incised lines. Royce Yoder reveals secrets for making those elegant flared rims (that don’t collapse!) and Peter Pincus satisfied his curiosity about reversing the application of colored slip decoration on slip-cast pieces. Returning contributors like Deanna Ranlett (crazing), David Gamble (sketching), Sumi von Dassow (sauerkraut and pickles), and Robin Ouellette (flower bricks and tulipieres) continue to provide an endless supply of information and inspiration. With summer now upon us, maybe you’ll find some free time to satisfy your curiosity—there are certainly enough things to discover.

Back issues: When available, back issues are $6 each, plus $3 shipping/handling; $8 for expedited shipping (UPS 2-day air); and $6 for shipping outside North America. Allow 4–6 weeks for delivery. Call (800) 340-6532 to order. Contributors: Writing and photographic guidelines are

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internal use beyond the limits of Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law is granted by The American Ceramic Society, ISSN 1096-830X, provided the appropriate fee is paid directly to Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Dr., Danvers, MA 01923; (978) 750-8400; www.copyright. com. Prior to photocopying items for educational classroom use, please contact Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. This consent does not extend to copying items for general distribution, for advertising or promotional purposes, or to republishing items in whole or in part in any work and in any format. Please direct republication or special copying permission requests to the Ceramic Publications Company, The American Ceramic Society, 600 N. Cleveland Ave., Suite 210, Westerville, OH 43082.

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trated, PO Box 15699, North Hollywood, CA 91615-5699. Form 3579 requested.

Bill Jones Editor Correction: In the May/June 2013 issue, in Johanna DeMaine’s article, The Top Layer: Working with Resinate Lusters, the correct firing range for lusters noted on p. 39 should be 1112°F (600°C)–1490°F (810°C). To clarify the firing on p. 41, the stoneware plate should then be fired to 1490°F (810°C). When lusters are fired onto stoneware or porcelain with high-temperature glazes, the temperature required to form a good bond between the two is at the higher end of the range. DeMaine chooses 1490°F for her stoneware and porcelain work because it also allows her to fire any raised enamel deocration at the same time. 6

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

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PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


in the studio | Glaze

Crazed by Deanna Ranlett

Crazing is a glaze defect where a network of cracks appear in a fired glaze surface. It raises issues of discoloration and the possibility for increased bacterial growth— something you don’t want in dinnerware you use regularly. Perhaps you have a favorite teacup that has crazed and you’ve noticed a change in glaze color over the years as a brown residue works its way through the crazed lines into the clay body. Even commercially-made dishes can grow mold when shut in a dark cabinet after a spin through the dishwasher without a heated cycle. Glaze crazing also impacts the fired strength of finished ware. I have several customers making beer growlers and the pressure of bottling beer necessitates a solid liner glaze so the vessel doesn’t explode. You may not be bottling beer, but the strength and longevity of your work is something to care about. Additionally, if you want to produce ware for the restaurant industry, food inspectors will check food storage and serving ware for this type of defect because crazed glazes can hold bacteria.

Cause and Effect There are several reasons why glazes craze and several approaches to fix it. Crazing can be aggravated by application and firing—making even a good glaze craze. If you have a glaze that crazes, try testing that involves varying your application from thinner to thicker and compare the results. This will tell you if the glaze is sensitive to thickness. I use a great clear glaze from college but when it’s applied too thick, it crazes and when applied thinly, it doesn’t. Clay bodies with high absorption rates can also contribute to crazing. Firing a cone 10 clay at cone 6 can aggravate crazing because the fired ware is still porous and can absorb water and physically swell and expand, causing the glaze to craze. Beyond just firing temperature (to avoid crazing), the coefficient of expansion (COE) must match between the glaze and clay. The most common kind of crazing involves the COE of the glaze being higher than the COE of the clay body. Firing a near empty kiln or opening the kiln too early can also aggravate crazing. We’ve all taken work out of the kiln that appears fine only later to find it crazed, or worse yet, to have a customer or friend tell us something is wrong after we’ve sent the piece on its way.

Water Blue—Original recipe cone 6

Gerstley Borate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 % Ferro Frit 3110 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 EPK Kaolin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Silica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 100 % Add: Copper Carbonate . . . . . . . . . . 2 % Bentonite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 % Results: Small, delicate crazing throughout glaze.

Water Blue with 3% Zircopax added and 10% less Ferro frit 3110. Results: Larger, more spaced out crazing.

Glaze Troubleshooting So, if you’ve standardized your firings and application methods and you’ve checked your clay’s firing range, now what? I recommend you keep your clay body constant and start testing glazes. Using glaze calculation software can be very helpful to keep track of results and make suggestions because some changes are very complex, especially in the case of frits and feldspars. There are many great software programs that can help you learn a lot about materials and how to make successful substitutions like Glaze Insight, HyperGlaze, GlazeMaster, etc. But, if you just want to mix up a few tests, here’s where to start:



Increase the silica. Start with 3% and increase incrementally after that. Estimating dry weights can be tricky once a glaze is already mixed, so make sure you measure carefully when testing! The addition of the silica lowers the COE of the glaze, bringing it closer to your clay body’s COE. Commercial glazes can also be altered with extra silica, just remove a small amount of glaze from the container, add the silica, and take good notes.


Decrease the feldspar. Sometimes you’ll need to adjust the ratios of fluxes, alumina, or silica when you do this—this is where glaze software can be helpful!


Decrease the sodium or potassium.

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

Water Blue with 5% silica added and 5% less Ferro frit 3110. Results: Larger, more spaced out crazing.

Water Blue with 5% Zircopax and 5% silica added. Results: Largest pattern of crazing.


Increase the boron (found in some frits, Gerstley borate, or other boron containing substitutes).


Increase the alumina or clay content, which generally improves the glaze mixture in the bucket as well. Remember that adding more alumina may change the gloss level of your glaze.


Add small amounts of Zircopax. This may cause your glaze to become more opaque, but a 5% or less addition shouldn’t impact translucency in most transparent glazes that melt well. If you’re starting with an opaque glaze, you can still add a little more Zircopax than you’re already using.

Water Blue revisiOn 1 cone 6

Gerstley Borate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 % Ferro Frit 3110 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 EPK Kaolin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Silica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Zircopax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 100 % Add: Copper Carbonate . . . . . . . . . . 2 % Bentonite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 % Results: No crazing. Slightly less transparent due to the addition of the Zircopax.

My Tests and Results I decided to test a cone 6 Water Blue glaze. Water Blue is a very popular studio glaze that has made the rounds on many online forums as well as in publications. It does, however, craze severely, but many use it anyway because of its beautiful color. For my tests, I wanted to keep the formula as close to the original as possible to preserve the intense turquoise color. In my tests, I manipulated the recipe following the same steps as above—I found that even small additions of clay,

cone 6

Gerstley Borate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 % Ferro Frit 3110 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 EPK kaolin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Silica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 100 % Add: Copper Carbonate . . . . . . . . . . 2 % Bentonite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 % Results: No crazing. The added EPK kaolin shifts the glaze to a more greenish color.

Deanna Ranlett is the owner of Atlanta Clay and MudFire Clayworks and Gallery and has been a working ceramic artist for 13 years. You may contact her at or

“My Paragon kiln practically fires itself, giving me more time to make pots” —David Hendley The Paragon kiln was already ancient when David and Karen Hendley bought it in 1995. Since then David has fired about 20,000 pieces of bisque in his electric Paragon. “For the last 20 years I have been glaze-firing all my work in a wood-fired kiln,” said David. “I enjoy the excitement of the firings, and my friends and customers like the random fire flashings and ash deposits. “What they don’t know is that every piece is first fired in my Paragon electric kiln. While accidental and chance effects can enhance a wood firing, consistency is the key to successful bisque firings.

Water Blue revisiOn 2

silica, and Zircopax or a combination of these stabilized the glaze and reduced the crazing. All test tiles were fired to cone 6 in an electric kiln, cooled slowly inside the kiln, then left at room temperature for 48 hours prior to taking photos. Time and various conditions will tell if the glazes continue to craze.

“For those firings, my Paragon has delivered reliable and consistent results year after year. It practically fires itself, giving me more time to make more pots.” The Paragons of today are even better than the early ones. The digital 12-sided TnF-27-3 shown at right is only 22 ¼” deep for easier loading. Lift the lid effortlessly with the spring counter-balance. Enjoy the accuracy

David and Karen Hendley with their ancient Paragon A-28B. It has fired about 20,000 pieces of bisque. The Hendleys run Old Farmhouse Pottery in Maydelle, Texas.

and convenience of the Orton controller. To learn more, call us or visit our website for a free catalog and the name of the Paragon dealer near you. Sign up for the Kiln Pointers newsletter. Constantly finding better ways to make kilns.

2011 South Town East Blvd. Mesquite, Texas 75149-1122 800-876-4328 / 972-288-7557 Toll Free Fax 888-222-6450 Paragon is a proud sponsor of Clayart, the pottery and ceramics email forum. PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


in the studio | Construction

By the Board by Glenn Woods

Handbuilding oval serving trays with patterns or textures that fit your style of work is an easy way to expand the types of forms you make, or just give you more options when serving food to family and friends. Start by rolling out an oval slab slightly larger than the final form you want to make. Try to keep it as uniform as you can so you don’t have to trim too much extra clay away to perfect the oval form. Use a template to create the oval, or just cut the shape out freehand. Smooth over any cut edges using a damp sponge. Position a piece of wood on the center of the oval that’s about the size you want the bottom of the tray to be, and place cut out textures on either side (I use strips of textured rubber designed for non-skid flooring). The textured mats are placed equidistant from the outside edge of the center wood piece (figure 1) so they will create a symmetrical pattern on the walls of the tray. If you prefer a more asymmetrical design, patterns and textures can be placed more randomly. Lift off the wood piece (you’ll replace it later, this placement was just to get the textures in the right spots) and use a rolling pin to press the rubber texture into the clay. Use thickness

1 Roll out an oval slab. Center a board as a guide and place textures around it. Remove the board and press in the texture.

4 Lift both cut center sections up and support them using foam or sponges.


PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

guides/boards on the outside edge to keep the slab uniform while you press the texture into the surface. Remove the rubber mats to expose the patterns. Now position the piece of wood back in the center of the oval. Make sure the wood piece is straight and has clean, smooth, sanded edges. You’ll use it as a guide and to make a soft defining line between the floor and the walls of the tray. Begin lifting both sides, smoothing them with a sponge where the clay meets the table to achieve a nice square corner (figure 2). It’s also important to support the center board during this step so that it doesn’t move while you press the clay walls up against it. Support the sides with foam. Now it’s time to put the pattern onto the longer ends, which become the handles for the tray. Use a variety of textures or even a type of appliqué—whatever design works with your aesthetic and the texture pressed into the walls of the platter. After applying textures to the handle areas, measure in about 1½ to 2 inches from the end and make two cuts along the creases created by the wood (figure 3). Repeat the process on the other end. Smooth and compress the cuts.

2 Lift the sides and press the bottom of the wall into the board to define the inner and outer edges. Smooth with a sponge.

5 Add slip to the back of the flap and to the front of the two triangular ends on either side of each flap.

3 Make two cuts on each end in the creases for the handles, starting between 1½–2 inches from the edge.

6 Curve the triangular ends around the flaps, press them together firmly, then add a stamped bead of clay to the joint.

7 Curl the handle edges, smooth all joins, then scallop the edge of the tray to minimize any warping that may occur from drying.

Lift both flaps to make a boat shape (figure 4). These handles should be soft; you may need to use additional foam to help support them. Wrap the cut sections still on the table surface around the vertical flap to support the wall for the short sides of the tray. Apply slip to the soft slab, both on the back of the vertical flap and on the front of the triangular-shaped cut edges where the two pieces will be joined. Make sure you clean any excess slip away with a brush (figure 5). After joining the two flaps, firmly press them together and add a button of clay impressed with a stamp for added strength (figure 6). Curl the flaps down and over the top of this join to create the handle. Tuck the edges out of sight, then smooth the sides and bottom edge of the handle. After the flaps have been attached and smoothed, add another clay button at the base of the handle to terminate the pattern. Clean up all edges, handles, and seams, especially on the outside where the flaps were joined together. After the piece is cleaned, add the foam supports to the sides again. While you can leave the edges of the tray straight, you can help prevent warping that may occur while the tray is drying or firing by adding scallops to the edges (figure 7).This also adds a decorative element to the entire piece. Because texture has been added to the surface, most of the pieces work out well with a transparent glaze that can be thicker or pool in the recessed areas, further enhancing the pattern. Glenn Woods runs Pottery Boys Clay Studio in Palm Harbor, Florida and Blue Island, Illinois. See more of his work at

Finished platters, Highwater Clay’s Little Loafers clay, Spearmint glaze (Mastering Cone 6 Glazes), iron saturate glaze, fired to cone 6.

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Additions to

Clay Bodies Additions of hard, non-combustible materials to a clay body open up the body and reduce shrinkage, allowing artists to work on large-scale, thick-walled work with less danger of warping and cracking. Saggars and work for raku firing should also be made with clay that has a high-sand or high-grog content, to enable the clay to cope with sudden changes in temperature (thermal shock) and repeat firings. Hard additions can also be used to enhance the surface of forms, such as when clay is scraped with a metal rib, intentionally exposing rough, hard-grog particles on the surface. Suitable materials for adding to clay bodies are sold commercially, made with studio materials, and found in the environment and include home-made colored grog, colored glass, organic materials including nuts, nut shells, sea shells, and plants, crude flakes of rust scraped from found metal objects, grogs made from shards of pottery or crushed brick, sand, volcanic rock, limestone chips, gravel, silt, iron oxide, mud, recycled clay, pâte de verre (glass paste), vitreous concrete (glass and concrete), and cement.

by Kathleen Standen

Grog The most common clay body addition is found in many commercial clays, which contain tiny particles of hard, non-combustible materials in the form of grog or corderite (crushed kiln shelves). Grog is generally a buff color, making it a good choice for adding to buff-firing clays. Alternatively, white molochite, made from calcined kaolin clay, can be added to white-firing clays. Both of these can be purchased in a range of grades from fine mesh (200) to coarse mesh (16–30). Clay bodies used in large-scale work can contain as much as 40% grog.

Making Colored Grog You can make your own grog from colored clays (figure 1). In my search for a range of blue-grays, I tested several black clay recipes. The black was blended with white, in equal proportions, and this was repeated several times. After firing, one black recipe provided me with a range of colors from black to metallic gray, dark blue, and pale blue. Using these same proportions, it’s possible to make a series of grogs of different sizes. The colored clay is rolled into slabs of different thicknesses and allowed to dry. I then crush the clay

Dockpool, 15¾ in. (40 cm) in diameter, colored porcelain with organic additions, 2012. Photo: Roland Paschhoff. 12

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

1 A selection of colored clays used for forming or fired and crushed to make grog.



Firing layers of dried and crushed colored clays in order to make grog.


Once fired, colored clays are crushed, then sieved for consistent sizes.


Draw marks on the mold to act as a guide. Start filling the mold with your clay body, adding strips of colored clays for pattern and extra hard materials such as seeds for texture.

Check the thickness of the clay, it should be between 1¼–1½ in. (3–4 cm) thick. Smooth the interior surface then cover with plastic for 24 hours to firm up evenly. Remove it from the mold.

with a rolling pin (always wearing a dust mask and ensuring good ventilation). The particles are spread onto a kiln shelf and fired (figure 2). They are then sieved, sorted by particle size, and stored for later use (figure 3).

While filling the mold with clay, I work intuitively and some deviation from the plan occurs. Most of the molds have internal curves and several forms are cut and rejoined, so this has to be factored in too. Wild bird seed, nut shells, olive and prune stones, cotton linter and perlite, and body stains and oxides are added to the clay in varying combinations (figure 4). Sometimes I add the organic materials to the clay as I am filling the mold, which gives specific areas of pattern and texture. Where a more uniform texture is required, the additions are stirred into clay slip, laid out on a plaster slab until just firm enough to handle, and then used to fill the mold. Note: All seeds are baked at a low temperature in the oven first to prevent them from swelling and germinating once added to the clay. After the molded clay has firmed up, it’s carefully removed from the mold (figure 5). With large molds, this is a tricky process requiring a great deal of careful planning to ensure that the form is not placed on an edge, which could be damaged or distorted. Lots of soft padding, such as sponges and towels, and two people are needed to ensure the safe unmolding of the form.

Using Colored Clay, Grog, and Hard Additions As my work is very large, I use an open clay body for strength and to reduce cracking. The basic clay is made using coarse molochite. To this I add colored grog, recycled-glass fragments, 10% perlite, and cotton linter. These additions not only give strength, but also add color, pattern, and texture.

Using Clay with Additives Taking photographs, drawing with colored pastels and beachcombing are all forms of research when starting a new series of pieces. I often make a maquette to explore the possibilities for the form, and carry out color tests to give me the best combinations of colors. I may research glazes at this stage too. Then the form is made and cast in plaster, and I am able to plan an individual piece, make the colored clay, and choose the organic additions.

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


process | Additions to Clay Bodies | Kathleen Standen

6 After unmolding, fill in unwanted gaps or cracks with soft clay. Either fill in some voids from seeds or leave them all exposed.

7 Using a metal tool, scrape and refine the surface to reveal texture or develop patterns formed by the hard additions.



8 Mark and cut through the form with a saw. A saw is needed as the clay is mixed with cotton linter and perlite.


Remove the cut piece then join it onto another part of the form by scoring and slipping. Add soft clay to the join to re-establish a smooth internal curve.

The outside of the form shows how the patterns have been matched when the sections were joined.

Cutting and Rejoining

Refining, Polishing, Waxing

Once the form is out, any holes or gaps are filled (figure 6) and the surface is scraped back to reveal the pattern of colors (figure 7). Two forms were made in this way. I cut and broke off a section from each form (figure 8) and then attached it to the other one (figure 9). The internal curve must then be re-established and the outside repaired and refined (figure 10). Sometimes the cutting and breaking continues, although on a reduced scale. In this way, I turn a whole form into something that resembles a fragment. When I am satisfied with the piece, it’s allowed to dry gradually over several weeks then slowly bisque fired in a wellventilated electric kiln to 1742°F (950°C). Before glazing the interior, all the holes are cleaned with a brush, a wooden tool, and sandpaper, then the piece is cleaned with a vacuum cleaner to remove both the sanding dust and any residual carbon dust created from the burning of organic matter. Finally, the outside edges are covered with masking tape or other resist materials should you wish to prevent glaze from splashing onto the colored clay.

Surface refinements are carried out at the leather-hard, bisque, and final fired stages. A variety of tools are used: metal kidneys on greenware; wet and dry sandpaper, rounded, long wooden tools, and vacuum cleaner on bisque, and an electric stone polisher on some pieces after the final firing. Glaze and refire the piece at 2228°F (1220°C), with a 20–minute soak. Finally, the flat and curved surfaces on the large-end pieces are polished to expose the ‘grain’ of the clay colors. This last procedure renders the surface silky smooth, with a weathered look, as it reveals variations in surface color. Beeswax is sometimes rubbed in, too. Note: It is essential to take precautions against inhaling dust during the crushing, sieving, and handling of grogs and sanding of bisque ware. Always wear a dust mask.

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

Excerpted and adapted from Additions to Clay Bodies by Kathleen Standen. © Kathleen Standen 2013. Copublished by Bloomsbury Publishing, London and The American Ceramic Society, Westerville, Ohio. For more information, go to

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PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


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PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

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Flared Forms Finessing by Royce Yoder and Kate Bedinghaus

Making a large flared bowl (like this one, which is 17 in. in diameter) or platter on the wheel simply requires adopting the right techniques and some practice.

Throwing, trimming, and glazing large flared bowls and platters can be intimidating, but with a few tricks and careful handling, they don’t have to be. When done properly, these could become the cornerstone for your work. I’ve been making flared pieces for more than 30 years and they’ve become standard in my line of work.

Throwing the Pieces Both the bowl and the platter are made in the same way with some minor form and detail differences. I use a white stoneware clay body that has 200-mesh-size fine mullite grog added to it to make these pieces. The clay is very plastic, and I would advise against using a clay that is short as cracks are likely to occur in the rim. To make an 18-inch finished platter or 17-inch bowl, I start with approximately 10 pounds of fairly stiff clay. The pieces are differentiated by how far the centered ball is opened. The bowl should be opened to about 8 inches in diameter and the platter

to 15 inches in diameter. Start by compressing the bottom well (figure 1). Three pulls, each angled slightly out from the center, set up the wall of the bowl (figure 2). The wall will be flared out from the bottom to the top, so I leave a little extra thickness at the bottom of the wall to support the flared shape. Some of this is removed later during the trimming process. In addition, I leave the rim thicker and compress it after each pull as it will be stretched in the next few steps as the bowl reaches the final diameter. Using a large, stiff metal rib, I gradually lay out the sides of the bowl, supporting the underside with my left hand and using a rib to press lightly on the inside of the bowl, working from the center to the rim (figure 3). Make sure to keep the underside well lubricated and to compress the rim after each pass from the center to the edge with the rib. Doing this several times flares out the walls to the desired shape and diameter. The last few passes with the rib can be done without supporting the bottom, with light pressure on the rib to smooth out any throwing lines and finalize the angle PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


process | Finessing Flared Forms | Royce Yoder and Kate Bedinghaus

1 For the bowl, compress the bottom well using a stiff rib.

3 Using a stiff metal rib, flatten out the wall of the bowl, making sure to support the underside of the wall.

5 For the platter, open the ball wider and compress the bottom well using a stiff dark blue plastic Mudtools rib.

7 Flatten the rim using the stiff metal rib with the opposite hand providing support on the underside. 18

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

2 Raise the wall of the large bowl in three pulls.

4 The final few light passes with the rib smooth out any throwing lines and finalize the angle of the wall.

6 I form the wall and rim using a claw pull, with my left thumb on the outside of the bowl and middle finger on the inside.

8 Add details to the transitions with the edge of a small metal rib. These will aid in glazing and decorating.

9 Center the piece to be trimmed on the bubble-wrap covered bat.

11 I sign my pieces with a small, fine brush using iron oxide. Care needs to be taken not to smear the mark before it’s fired.

13 The gridded guidelines for the pattern are set up using a simple cardboard template.

15 Three different oxides are brushed on in layers on top of the decorating glaze.

10 Trim the sides and foot, adding details where needed.

12 Flood the center with glaze using a squeeze bottle. This must be done quickly to avoid a spiral circle look on the piece.

14 Trail a decorating glaze over the grid using a bulb syringe, then create patterns inside the gridded areas.

16 Wipe the foot clean then flip over and finish spraying the rim. Wipe off any beaded up overspray on the waxed area. PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


hold the piece in place. It’s important to cushion the stiff rims so they don’t crack due to uneven pressure points. I define the outer diameter of the foot, then trim away any excess thickness from the sides of the bowl (figure 10). Next, a simple foot is trimmed with a recessed groove incorporated. This allows me to add a hanging wire after firing. After trimming is complete, the pieces are signed on the bottom with iron oxide (figure 11).

Glazing the Pieces Glazing and decorating both pieces is very similar. I start by flooding the center of the platter with glaze from a plastic squeeze bottle while the piece rotates on a banding wheel (figure 12). The excess is poured off and the rim wiped clean. Using the registration lines I added when I threw the piece, a circle is drawn lightly with a pencil. A grid is set up inside the Platter, 18 in. (46 cm) in diameter, white stoneware, Stephen Hill’s mock ash glaze on the circle using a cardboard template and rim, Turner’s Beauty Glaze on the center with a trailing glaze containing copper and rutile pencil (figure 13). A decorating glaze as colorants, fired to cone 10 in reduction, 2013. is trailed from a bulb syringe over the graphite lines (figure 14). The squares are of the wall (figure 4). Details for glazing are added, including a filled with a repeating pattern. Oxides are then brushed on top of groove for the transition point from the floor to the walls where the glaze lines (figure 15). Tip: Mix the oxides with a bit of clear two different glazes will meet, and registration rings for the cen- glaze, which helps to melt the oxides and avoids the dry “metallic” ter pattern that’s applied after the bisque firing (see figure 8). look that can occur, especially at the beginning and end of a brush The platter is thrown in a similar way. After opening and stroke where the oxides are deposited more heavily. compressing the bottom, using one hand to hold the rib while After applying the layers of oxides, brush a water-based wax the other anchors against my leg to provide stability and sup- over the entire decoration. This keeps any overspray from marring port (figure 5), two claw pulls using the thumb and middle fin- the pattern. Tip: Dilute the wax by half with water. It brushes easger of my left hand get the rim to the correct diameter (figure ier, works just as well, and doubles your wax supply. Once the wax 6). My thumb is acting as the support here, with more pressure resist is dry, spray a contrasting glaze on the rim. I start spraying applied using my middle finger in order to make the wall flare the rim with the platter upside down and supported on a chuck out as it is pulled. As with the bowl, the base of the pot and the on a large banding wheel. By spraying, I can vary the thickness of rim are left thicker for support and stability. Again, using the the glaze application and accent the rim as I desire. Flip the platstiff metal rib, I lay out the rim, supporting the underside with ter over and spray the front (figure 16). Glaze overspray will bead my left hand (figure 7). The same details that I use for the flared up on the waxed center and wipes off easily. After the glaze dries, bowl are added at this point to help with the glaze transitions clean the foot off and the piece is ready to be fired to cone 10 in a later (figure 8). Both pieces are cut free from their bats after the reduction atmosphere. rims have set up, usually the following morning.

Drying and Trimming Both forms are dried slowly prior to trimming. I let them dry for several days in the damp room, then cover them lightly with plastic and leave them for several more days. The rims need to be very stiff to support the weight of the pieces when they are flipped over to trim. To make trimming easier, I put a pre-cut piece of bubble wrap (smooth side down) onto a wet plastic or Formica-covered bat before placing the pot on top (figure 9). The bubble wrap sticks to the wet bat and the bubbles cushion and 20

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

Royce Yoder is a studio potter living and working near Lederach, Pennsylvania. He became interested in making pots while attending Hesston College in Kansas and graduated from Goshen College in 1976. After he graduated, he began making pots full-time and established his own studio in 1983. His work can be found in galleries and shops all over the US. Visit his website at and find him on Facebook. Kate Bedinghaus is Royce’s daughter. She graduated with a degree in communication studies from Taylor University in 2007. She is currently a freelance editor living in Bloomington, Indiana. She has many fond memories of “playing clay” in her dad’s studio as a child.

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To a Tea by Doug Peltzman

Tea Service for Eight, to approximately 12 in. (30 cm) in height, wheel-thrown porcelain, fired to cone 8 in oxidation.

The teapot form has always been the most challenging and enjoyable pot for me to make. It gives the maker and user so many things to look at and interact with. The challenge essentially is to make all of the parts somehow work, both physically and aesthetically. The spout, handle, body, foot, lid, knob, and surface provide infinite possibilities for play. I’ve happily struggled with those possibilities for almost ten years, and looking back, my teapot investigations have informed everything I’ve made in clay.

Teapot Body Begin by thoroughly wedging the clay, even if it’s been processed through a pug mill. For each teapot, prepare two balls of a throwing clay, one ball that is 1½ pounds (for the spout and lid) and another that is 3 pounds (for the body). Note: I use a Grolleg porcelain—since a smooth clean clay body is essential to my process, because impurities obstruct the fluidity of the surface decoration. Center the 3-pound ball using slip-like slurry rather than water, which is ideal for throwing 22

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

with porcelain, as it adds less water to the clay, helping maintain strength and plasticity. Form a cylinder, define the floor of the teapot with a sponge, and then compress it with a rib. Leave about a half inch of clay at the bottom to allow for trimming a deep foot. Throw the walls upward until they are about an 1⁄8 of an inch thick, leaving a thicker mass of clay at the rim for the lid flange. Form the volume of the teapot and remove throwing lines using a flexible metal rib. Compress from the inside by applying pressure into the rib held on the outside, this simultaneously shapes the teapot and removes unwanted throwing lines. Begin to form the gallery/flange that the lid will sit in. Use your left index finger to apply downward pressure to the inner half of the rim area, and your left middle finger to provide resistance, hence squeezing out the flange (figure 1). Next, add decorative rings to the pot. This is a good time to decide how you want to break up the form; in this case it will be three rings. I use a modified rib with a half circle ground out, and

1 Throw and form the body. Leave a thick rim to create the flange for the lid.

4 Start the spout by throwing a 3–4 inch collared, bottomless cylinder off the hump.



Using a modified rib, create horizontal decorative rings.



Apply decorative rings, and add a kink to the spout by lightly touching the tip.

7 Trim the lid and apply a handle or knob. Use clay to fill in where the handle attaches to the lid.

Using another modified rib, remove any throwing marks. Clean up the rim and foot.

Place the teapot body into a chuck with pieces of cut foam to cushion the pot.

8 Use a drill bit to manually make holes in the area where the spout will cover. Score and slip the two parts before joining. PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


process | To a Tea | Doug Peltzman

9 Attach the spout to the teapot body and secure the join with a soft coil of clay.

11 Use a small brush to carefully inlay black slip into all the incised lines. Bisque fire the piece.

13 Once the latex dries, apply the first coat of glaze. After it dries, wax those areas, then remove the latex. 24

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

10 Separate the piece into sections by incising lines using a ruler and a needle tool.

12 After firing, apply liquid latex to mask off specific areas for multiple glaze application.

14 Dip the teapot into the second glaze. The glaze will only adhere to areas where the latex had been. Wipe off excess glaze drips.

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Teapot, 8¼ in. (21 cm) in height, wheel-thrown porcelain, fired to cone 8 in oxidation.

apply equal pressure from the inside and the outside to create horizontal rings (figure 2). Using another custom-shaped metal rib, remove marks made from applying the rings and clean up the rim and foot area (figure 3). Use the tip of a modified butter knife to refine the gallery, which creates a clean rounded space for the lid to sit into. Then use a small piece of plastic or chamois and a cosmetic sponge to compress and clean up the flange and the foot. Lastly, take a measurement of the inside of the flange with calipers. Cut the pot off the wheel, and allow the body to dry evenly until it’s ready for trimming.

Spout and Lid Throw both the lid and the spout off the hump from the same 1½ pound ball of clay (figure 4). Start the spout by throwing a 3–4 inch collared cylinder about an 1⁄8 of an inch thick. Swell out the bottom and slowly collar into a cone shape. Allow enough space to get a finger in the spout. Once formed, repeat the steps for making the rings on the body. After the rings are applied, bend the tip by inserting a wooden tool that is smaller than a finger into the spout and pulling gently downward. Lightly touch the tip of the spout so it holds its form when pressure is applied (figure 5). Cut the spout off the hump and set aside to stiffen up. With the remaining clay, make the lid. Throw the lid upside down in the shape of a small dish. Use your calipers to measure the lid so it conforms to the flange on the body. Consider the profile of the teapot body, and how it transitions with the profile of the lid. While waiting for the thrown parts to stiffen, pull the handles for the lid and body, and pull a few extras to get a desired fit.

Bend the handle for the lid into a circle shape. Allow these to stiffen evenly with the rest of the parts.

Trimming Place the teapot body into a chuck centered on a foam bat, and use additional pieces of cut foam to center and cushion the pot upside down in the chuck (figure 6). This setup allows the piece to be trimmed without having to fasten it to the bat. Once fully centered, trim out the foot and shape the outside of the pot until all of the excess clay has been removed and the body is consistently about an eighth of an inch thick. Next, trim the lid on the foam bat, applying pressure so it doesn’t move. Follow the inside shape and trim a ring at the top, so you can later attach the knob. Check and make sure the lid fits snuggly, it’s better to be a little tight then loose, you can trim it to fit as needed.

Construction Score and slip the handle to the lid—use a small piece of clay to fill in the circle where the handle attaches to create a fluid connection (figure 7). Next, cut the spout at an angle to fit the body, I use a knife and a Surform rasp to get the fit just right. Make sure the tip of the spout is close to the height of the body so the teapot can be fully filled with tea. Place the spout on the body and outline its placement. Use a drill bit to manually drill holes in the body to allow for flow and tea infusion. Score, slip, and attach the spout to the teapot body (figure 8). Add a small coil to smooth the transition from the spout to the body and to secure the join (figure 9). PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


Next, determine the position of the handle, and outline its placement. Prepare the pulled handle prior to attachment by adding and smoothing coils to the top and bottom. This adds mass to the connection areas and allows for a tapered ergonomic handle. Similar to the spout, add a coil or two to define the negative space and create a smooth transition between the two parts. With a rubber tipped tool and cosmetic sponge, clean up connections and blemishes made during construction.

Decoration My decorating technique requires incised lines inlaid with a black slip. When the teapot becomes leather hard, brush wax on the entire piece. Note: The added moisture from the wax can soften the piece, so be careful when handling. Once the wax dries, the piece is ready to be incised with lines, patterns, or drawings. I divide my piece into equal vertical sections using a ruler and a needle tool and incise horizontal lines by using the contours of the horizontal clay rings as a guide (figure 10). Now that the piece has been broken up into sections, I start by filling in every other square with a pattern. When all of the incisions are complete, begin to inlay black slip. Using a small brush, carefully paint slip into each line. You’ll find that because of the wax layer on the clay, the slip beads right into the incision (figure 11). The wax also helps with the clean up. Use a lightly dampened sponge to remove any excess black slip. The wax creates a barrier and doesn’t allow the sponge to remove clay or let the black slip muddy up the white porcelain. The last step in the greenware stage is to apply texture if desired. I use the teeth of a cut-up hacksaw blade to apply texture to all of the areas that aren’t incised and inlaid.

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Grolleg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 % F-4 or Minspar Feldspar . . . . . . . . . . 15 Silica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Pyrax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Veegum T . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Alumina . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 100 %

Teapot, 83⁄4 in. (22 cm) in height, wheel-thrown porcelain, fired to cone 8 in oxidation. 26

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

Finishing Bisque fire the teapot to at least cone 04, to ensure the clay body isn’t too porous and doesn’t absorb too much glaze, wash the piece to remove dust and allow it to fully dry. To mask off areas for applying multiple glazes, I use liquid latex. The latex is ammonia based, so use it in a well-ventilated area. Tip: To prolong the life of your brushes, designate a few to use with latex only. The latex is quite thick and fairly controllable to brush (figure 12). If you get some on the wrong area, wait for it to dry and peel it up. Once all the latex has dried, you can glaze the inside of the teapot. To glaze the outside, plug up the spout with a small piece of clay so glaze does not flood the inside of the teapot. Hold the teapot from the foot and submerge it into the bucket of glaze. Repeat the same steps for the lid, leaving the bottom edge where it will rest on the kiln shelf unglazed. Once the glaze has dried, apply a coat of wax over the glazed areas to ensure the second glaze coat doesn’t adhere to or mix with the first. When the wax is dry, you can peel off the latex (figure 13). Apply a second coat of a different colored glaze (figure 14). The glaze will only stick to the areas where you removed the latex. Beads of glaze may stick to the waxed layer of glaze; just use a clean, lightly damp sponge to wipe off the excess prior to firing. When preparing to fire porcelain, apply alumina wax to the foot and lid so they do not stick to the shelf during the firing. Fire the piece to the recommended temperature for your clay and glaze. Doug Peltzman works as a full-time studio potter out of his home studio in the Hudson Valley area of New York. He is actively exhibiting and selling his work nationally. To see more of his work go to

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PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


the by Peter Pincus

Peter Pincus creates the patterns on his work with colored slips, a plaster mold, and a master plan.

As my artistic goals matured and evolved, so did my processes. I never planned to be a slip-caster, but there came a time when my ideas for surface composition grew beyond the scope of what I could do with bisque ware, painter’s tape, glaze, and wax resist. Through a great deal of experimentation in the studio, I found that only casting porcelain using plaster molds offered the precision I was after. So I developed a hybrid throwing and slip casting process that worked in the way I needed it to. What had been initially a step in an awkward direction—full of plaster disasters and ugly forms—eventually became a comfortable process that completely transformed my work. I aspire to make crisp porcelain forms with lines and panels of bright color, impeccably executed, and free from glaze flaws. The process I’ve developed achieves those aspirations.

Plaster Mold tiPs each plaster mold is specifically fabricated without keys on the vertical seams for two reasons—one being form/development and the other slip/surface. First, to get the shape i want, the plaster mold is cut on a band saw, altered, and reassembled after the form is originally cast. the altered mold needs to be registered and held together, so i cast two pieces of plaster, one that sits on top, and the other that forms a base for the mold, below the foot, and create keys in both of these sections (figure a). When applying slip, it’s beneficial that the sides are flat and smooth. any protrusions like keys in the plaster become speed bumps when cleaning the mold. since the mold is cleaned regularly throughout this process, it’s best to make it as smooth as possible. Plaster molds are tools, and in this process, an x-acto knife frequently cuts through casting slip and into the mold itself, scoring the surface and leaving it in rough condition. after eight castings, the mold needs a facelift. to remove the lines cut into the surface, soak it in water until it’s saturated. using 320-grit wet sandpaper, rub the surface in all directions to remove the top layer of plaster. the process is complete when all divots and scratches are gone. allow the mold to dry completely. PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


Colored slip Preparation Begin with a porcelain casting slip and commercial stain (e.g. Mason stains). The porcelain slip responds well to colorant additions and makes everything bright. Mix 45 grams of dry stain to 590 grams wet casting slip. Place stain on top of the slip and then pour a tablespoon of water on top of the stain immediately before mixing to help de-clump the stain. The slip is ready for use when it spreads consistently between your fingers without revealing any concentrated pockets of color (figure 1). It’s best to wear gloves when checking the colored slip.

Painting and Cutting Using a 1½-inch Royal & Langnickel Series 788 Hake brush (available at art supply stores), brush casting slip on the plaster mold (figure 2). Thicker is better, because if applied sparingly, the brush sticks to the plaster and leaves behind a pitted surface that’s very difficult to remove. Rotate the piece around to avoid slip pooling in one area, which creates inconsistency in thickness. When the slip is leather hard (about 30–60 seconds) gently cut lines through it with a sharp knife point (figure 3). Note: Excessive pressure will cut deep into the mold, making it difficult to sand out later. Then, simply peel the unwanted slip up from the mold (figure 4) and wipe away any remnants with a sponge.

layering Repeat the above steps, this time using colored slips, as many times as necessary. With each cut and removal of sections of unwanted slip and successive application of a different colored slip, a new layer forms on the exposed plaster and on top of the previous layer of slip (figures 5 and 6). When finished, the final layer sits on top of the rest of the colored slips, partially or mostly obscuring some of them.

The entire process, from creating and cutting away layers of color to casting white slip on top of these layers needs to happen all in one work session. The longest I’ve been able to work on creating the colored pattern is 3 hours, though most compositions take between 45 minutes and 1½ hours. Most cups take about an hour to complete. What’s challenging about this process is that since you’re working inside the mold, it’s impossible to see what’s being produced because each new layer hides the previous one. It’s helpful to draw a blueprint of the composition on a separate piece of paper and refer to it while layering each colored slip (figure 7). Remember, you are working inside the mold, therefore any compositional structure shows in reverse on the final product.

Casting When finished, you’ll have a lumpy, multi-colored veneer of leather-hard porcelain approximately 1/16–1/8-inch thick coating each casting surface. Using a plastic knife, scrape all colored porcelain from the sides, bottom, top, and back of the mold sections, then clean them with a sponge (figure 8). Strap the mold together and fill it with casting slip using the same recipe or base slip used to create the colored slips. Wet casting slip re-hydrates the veneer of colored slip, causing the two to fuse together. My cups generally cast for 20 minutes while larger molds take an hour (times vary depending on the slip recipe used, the size, thickness, and dryness of the plaster mold, and the desired thickness of the cast). When the desired wall thickness is achieved, pour out the excess casting slip.

Greenware Within two hours, the piece detaches from the mold, taking the veneer of colored slip with it, as well as all X-Acto scratches and divots from the plaster (figure 9). When the piece is bone dry, lightly scrape the surface with a metal rib and use steel wool or other kitchen scrubbing pad to round over all sharp edges. Don’t expect a finished product at this time, just a slightly less nicked up piece of greenware. Bisque fire the piece.


A Each plaster mold is made without keys on the vertical seams. To register the sections together, I cast two pieces of plaster—one is a ring that sits on top, and the other forms a base for the mold—and create keys in both sections. 30

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

After bisque firing, the piece is strong enough for wet sanding. Submerge it in water until it’s completely saturated. Tape a dampened piece of wet/dry silicon carbide sandpaper to a flat surface, and rub the foot of the piece across the sandpaper to smooth and polish the bottom. Working on a wet form with damp sandpaper prevents dust from being created. If you do create any dust while sanding, be sure to wear the appropriate dust mask to protect yourself. Sand away all surface imperfections from lip to foot with 320-grit wet/dry sandpaper (figure 10). Using a fine-grit sandpaper allows for a smoother and more polished surface. If your surface is heavily marred, work from a coarser grit (180) first, then move to an intermediate grit (220), and finish with 320-grit or finer sandpaper. Rinse the piece off when finished and allow it to dry completely.

tape, Glaze, and Wax resist To create a piece that is only partially glazed, which accentuates the colored slip patterns in different ways, you’ll need to glaze

process | Between the Lines | Peter Pincus

1 Slip is ready when it spreads across finger without exposing clumps of Mason stain.

4 Casting slip easily peels off the mold at the leather-hard stage.



Painting first layer of casting slip on plaster mold.


5 Apply a second coat of casting slip. This time it is a value of gray.

7 A blueprint of the basic composition helps to keep the process of applying colored slips from getting too confusing.

Cut lines into leather-hard casting slip with a sharp X-Acto knife.

Cutting into leather-hard slip to add the 9th slip layer, which will be a light blue.

8 Clean excess clay from the sides, top, bottom, and back of each section, then assemble the mold to cast a final white slip interior. PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


9 Demold the cup after an hour of drying. Clean the surface with a metal rib, allow the piece to dry fully, then bisque fire.

10 Sand all pits, divots, craters, and incised lines off the surface with wet/dry sandpaper and water. Clean and soften the lip.

the inside first, then section off the exterior so that parts of it resist the glaze. Pour a liner glaze into the interior of the form then pour out the excess, and apply a glaze inside the foot ring if you have one. When the glaze is dry, brush wax resist on the foot ring and under the foot and clean all excess glaze drips. When the wax is completely dry, use painter’s tape to section off one half of the outside of the piece. For this piece, I’ve chosen to tape off along the vertical facets. Holding the form upside down, pour clear glaze over the form, starting at the bottom, moving up one piece of tape, across the foot, down the second piece of tape. Immediately repeat the process in reverse (figure 11). 32

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

11 After sanding, rinse and dry the cup. Pour first panel of glaze. When dry, brush wax resist over the glaze, let dry, then finish glazing.

When the glaze is dry, apply wax resist over the glazed area and remove the painter’s tape. Allow the wax to harden for an hour (using a fan helps). Repeat the glazing process on the second side of the piece. Sponge any additional glaze off the waxed surface and you’re done! By sharing this process with you, I hope to help you not only imagine what you wish to make, but also motivate you to invent a means to achieve it. Peter Pincus is an artist and instructor living in Penfield, New York. He received an MFA in ceramics and a BFA in ceramics and metal fabrication from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. To see more of his work, visit

8 designs

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


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PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

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TeapoTs by Clay Cunningham

Finished majolica-glazed earthenware teapot with infuser.

Over the last year, I’ve spent a great deal of time at The Tea Smith in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s here where I read or sketch, occasionally write, and enjoy endless varieties of loose-leaf teas from around the world. Loose-leaf, or whole-leaf teas, keep intact all of the essential oils that make teas flavorful and aromatic. They offer a much richer experience of tea than tea bags, which are often made of tea dust or fannings, age quickly, and lose much of the original zest that makes for a great cup of tea. While enjoying my tea, I began to ponder the problems inherent in creating a teapot meant for serving loose-leaf teas. Usually when making a teapot, I simply cut a large hole where the spout will be added. This is all well and good if a tea bag is used to corral the tea, but with loose-leaf, all of the leaves would either collect in the spout, cutting off flow, or would wiggle their way through and end up in my tea cup. I spoke with the shop owner, Tim Smith, about the subtleties and nuances of a great teapot and we decided that I should

make some loose-leaf versions that include an infuser to be used in the shop.

Throwing the Body One of my most deeply held tenets in the studio is to begin with the end in mind. In keeping with that mantra, I chose earthenware as my clay body for creating these teapots. Its high-iron content helps a pre-warmed teapot hold its heat much longer than a stoneware or porcelain teapot. Begin by using a three-pound ball of clay and throw a cylinder. Lift and refine the wall to an ideal thickness of ¼ inch and leave extra thickness at the top ½ inch to create the gallery for the infuser. Before creating the gallery, belly out the teapot by pressing outward from inside the pot while supporting the wall with the opposite hand on the outside. When doing this, it’s important not to apply pressure to the lip of the teapot as that will make the opening too wide. PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


process | Loose-Leaf Teapots | Clay Cunningham

1 Throw a round, belly-shaped pot. Create a gallery for the infuser to sit in.

4 Measure the infuser’s gallery where the lid will sit.

7 Trim the bottom of the teapot body. Compress and smooth the surface with a rib. 36

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

2 Compress, refine, and smooth the shape. Measure the gallery for the infuser.

5 Throw a very shallow bowl to be the lid. Measure it to fit the infuser.

8 Trim the infuser and the lid and check them for a good fit, then add a handle.

3 Throw a cup for the infuser. Leave extra clay at the rim to make a gallery for the lid.

6 Throw a hollow, bottomless cone shape for the spout, then curve it with a pencil.

9 Use a needle tool to create holes in the infuser. Smooth the clay with a chamois.



Cut off the spout. Lightly pinch the edges to soften the transition to the pot. Before attaching, check the fit and trim as needed.


Trace around the spout with a knife then cut out a hole, score and slip the spout and body, then attach and smooth the joint.


Pull a handle to about 12 inches. Leave a little extra clay at the ends. Drape it over a cardboard tube until it can hold its shape.

Measure the handle for a proper fit—it must be tall enough for the infuser to be removed and inserted. Score, slip, and attach.

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14 Coat the interior and exterior with a white majolica glaze, then glaze the lid.

15 Use paper stencils and a pencil to trace a surface decoration pattern on the glaze.

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16 Add underglaze dots to the body, handle, and lid, following the pencil lines.

Add a transparent colored glaze over the majolica glaze and any underglaze decoration if needed. All photos: Jordanne Jensen.

To create the gallery, place your hands just below the lip, about ½ inch from the top, as if you were going to pull the clay taller. Instead of lifting the wall, use your fingers as supports for the clay as you press your left thumb straight down the middle of the lip, separating it into lower and higher halves (figure 1). Immediately take a measurement of the gallery opening with calipers (figure 2).

but a frequently used pot is better with a quiet, understated spout. Additionally, a larger spout means more weight. Since teapots have many added parts (spout, lid, handle, infuser), and are picked up and poured often, a lighter weight is better. Let the spout dry for a few minutes; just enough for the glistening surface to dull. In order to create an organic curve, slide a pencil into the spout while cupping the outside and carefully coax a slight curve (figure 6). The trick to achieving a curve is to create multiple small bends in many places as you pull the pencil out, rather than one big bend in one place. Let the spout dry a little more until slightly firm to the touch.

Throwing the Infuser The two biggest concerns to consider when making the infuser are that it fits snugly in the teapot’s gallery, and that the gallery on the infuser is deep enough to accommodate a well-fitting and secure lid. To create the infuser, open and shape a one-pound ball of clay into a cup shape. Leave a little extra clay at the top to create both the lip that will sit in the teapot’s gallery, and a gallery built into the infuser for the lid to sit on, getting the sizing right for this part of the infuser takes some careful measuring and a little finesse. Create the gallery (figure 3) and take caliper measurements of the outside top edge where it will fit into the teapot and where the lid will sit in the infuser (figure 4).

Lid Throw the lid as you would a small shallow bowl. The diameter of the lid should be the same size as the gallery on the infuser (figure 5). Use a 3⁄4-pound ball of clay, making the lid as wide as the gallery on the infuser and only about 3⁄4 of an inch tall. Keeping the curve shallow helps the lid to have just the right arch so as to visually continue the curve in the form of the pot.

Spout Create the spout with a 3⁄4-pound ball of clay opened into a bottomless cone shape, with the wide point at the bottom and the slender end at the top. Shaping both hands into the ‘pinching’ position, collar the clay to resemble an upside-down funnel. A long, flamboyant spout is great for a purely decorative teapot, 38


PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

Bringing It All Together After all the pieces are leather hard, it’s time to trim the bottom of the teapot, the infuser, and the spout to give them all a graceful curve. Refine the surfaces with a rubber rib to create a smooth surface (figures 7). Because the lid is inset, it needs a handle. I create a leaf-shaped handle that pairs well with my decoration. Set the handle aside until it slightly stiffens and then score, add slip, and attach the handle onto the lid (figure 8). To create the holes in the infuser so the water can circulate through the tea leaves, use a needle tool or a small drill bit to pierce the wall and the bottom. Use a chamois to smooth up any rough edges around the holes (figure 9). Use an X-Acto knife to cut the spout at an angle, taking off a majority of the upper half. I prefer to cut with the blade perpendicular to the clay, slicing around the wall, instead of cutting straight through. This ensures that the spout holds its shape and doesn’t collapse. Hold the freshly cut spout up to the teapot body and position it so that the bottom of the spout is high enough on the pot so that when entirely filled, the tea won’t spill out of the spout

InFUSer TIPS You can adjust the height of your infuser depending on the type of tea you are using. Most teas only need to steep for 2–5 minutes. Certain teas, such as Oolong and Puerh, will progress in flavor as the tea is steeped, some up to twenty minutes, offering a different experience each time the teapot is poured. Therefore, the teapots I make for Oolong and Puerh teas have taller infusers, ensuring steeping all the way until the last cup.

while at rest (figure 10). Trace around the spout with your knife so you know where to connect the spout to the teapot. Before adding the spout, be sure to cut an opening for the tea to exit the pot. Because the tea leaves will be contained in the infuser, the opening can be of any shape or size. Attach the spout by scoring the joining surfaces and coat both sides with a hearty amount of slip (figure 11). Smooth the seam using a chamois.

Get a Handle There are endless ways to make handles. I prefer to pull mine from a two-pound ball of well-wedged clay. Begin by forming the ball of clay into a cone shape using the heel of your hands. Using a bucket of water over an area you do not mind getting messy, such as a sink, wet both your hand and the clay and get ready to pull. With your hand held in an okay sign around the cone, lightly pull down on the clay, coaxing it slowly into a long thin strap, leaving a little extra clay at the top and bottom of the strap to provide a little extra surface area when attaching the handle to the teapot. Drape the strap handle over a cylindrical form until it can hold its shape (figure 12). Note: Be sure the handle is tall enough to fit the placement and removal of the infuser (figure 13). Attach the handle then let the entire piece dry slowly and bisque fire it to cone 06.

Firing and Decoration I use Andersen Majolica to glaze my teapots because it’s opaque, resistant to stains, and the cool white color beautifully compli-

ments the orange clay body. Glaze the interior by keeping your thumb over the spout, swirling the glaze around the inside, and then releasing the glaze out of the spout. Next, pour glaze over the outside so that the circular edges of the glaze lead the viewer’s eye around the form of the pot (figure 14). Dip the lid as well, then clean off the bottom edge where it will touch the kiln shelf. Leave the entire infuser unglazed to ensure proper flow of the water through the tea leaves when in use. After allowing the glaze to dry for 24 hours, use a pencil and paper stencils to add decoration (figure 15). The graphite burns away in the glaze firing. Amaco Velvet Underglazes work wonderfully on top of Andersen Majolica glaze. Apply them with a brush (figure 16), and don’t forget to extend the decoration around the pot, such as on the lid, handle, or even inside the vessel. Brush a second, bright, transparent glaze onto the pot’s form to add an extra layer to the decoration—I’m using Icy Blue Glaze, adapted from Pete Pinnell’s Easy Clear. Frame the newly glazed area with additional underglaze decoration (figure 17). Glaze fire the pot to cone 04. Try your new creation with some fresh loose-leaf tea to experience what true tea is all about. Enjoy! Clay Cunningham is a potter and teacher living in Council Bluffs, Iowa. His work can be found year-round at The TeaSmith and the Omaha Healing Arts Center, in Omaha, Nebraska. Contact him by email at clay657@ or visit his website at PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


AlternAtive Firing SurFAceS Minneapolis, MN October 11th–13th

Ken Turner

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in the studio | Inspiration

a World of Ideas by David L. Gamble

As both a painter and a clay artist, I enjoy using clay as a canvas to render my ideas. While participating in a clay symposium in Finland, I was using a sketchbook to record the countryside, etc. After about the fifth sketch, I thought wouldn’t it be more fun to create sketches on clay (figure 1). Most of my pieces are bisque fired at cone 03 and glaze fired to cone 04. Firing a little higher can make a matte glaze a bit shinier, and firing lower can make a gloss glaze a little more



A handbuilt “clay canvas” is about 11x14 inches—close to sketchbook size—with a 1-inch frame to give it a little height and dimension. Lugs with holes for attaching hanging wire are added for displaying the finished piece on the wall.

3 This red glazing technique was intended for large platters but also works well on bisqued wall tiles.

matte. Firing higher or lower can also change how layered glazes melt and break into each other. I use wide variety of commercial glazes, Velvet Underglazes, majolica, mattes, gloss glazes, etc., that I layer, mix, and apply in various sequences to achieve different surfaces. Many pieces are multi-fired because there’s always one more area that could be made more interesting with a little more or a different glaze and another firing.

When glazing in threes, the first slab is dry enough for the next coat of glaze by the time you finish the third slab. And when you look at three similar pieces, one always looks better than the others. I then take that idea and make three more.

4 rather than painting, imprint clay slabs— these tiles were made from cropping impressions of manhole covers in Lithuania.

5 While in estonia, Ingrid Allik told me about her son’s fantasy rocket factory. I loved the story and drew one of my own. PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


People often ask what inspires me and why certain pieces were created. My ideas come from many different directions and I try to embrace whatever appears. I’ve found that the best way for me to work is in threes (figure 2). The flow of ideas isn’t always in a straight path; mine always jump around, depending on what the day brings. I travel a lot and that breaks up my studio time in

a way that some ideas never get made and I just move on the current one that is the most interesting (figures 3–7) Working on variations of an idea goes beyond clay sketches on slabs. Your variations can be what you make—cups, sculptures, figures, etc. I’m always attempting to create more interesting and better pieces, so the series variations are endless and always changing.

One of the funniest things I heard from a clay professor was that he saw graduate students sitting and talking, and when he asked what they were doing, they said they were critiquing pieces they were thinking about making! Wow! My suggestion would have been to get up, get into to the studio, and just put your ideas into clay. Most of the time it’s perspiration more than inspiration.

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PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

7 For now, most of my clay sketches are landscapes from traveling. Starting with winter scenes, I moved onto diptychs and triptychs, and over the last years or so have concentrated on seascapes from Key West.


PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


the potters kitchen | Food and Clay

A Fermenting Crock by Sumi von Dassow

Throw two cylinders of equal diameter and let them firm up. Join them by scoring and slipping to create a large crock.

After joining and smoothing the two sections together, measure the gallery for the lid with calipers.

Fermentation is quite trendy these days. Naturally fermented foods contain probiotics which help digestion; they are raw, so raw foods enthusiasts love them; and they taste good. Fermenting vegetables is a great way to preserve a glut for future use (the two classics being pickles and sauerkraut, which are a delicious way to preserve cucumbers and cabbages for winter consumption). Fermenting is also quite easy to do—just mix vegetables with salt or brine and maybe some herbs and garlic, pack them into a crock, put a weight on top of the vegetables to hold them under the brine, and let the crock sit at room temperature. You can start out fermenting in a quart-size mason jar; however, if you get into it, soon you’ll want bigger containers, and since they have to sit for days or weeks doing their thing, you need several jars. A fermenting crock is pretty easy to make; it’s just a cylinder with a lid and a weight. And, this is a perfect project for a potter, since fermenting crocks can be hard to find and quite expensive. Most fermenting enthusiasts use plastic buckets and use a suitably sized plate and a clean rock on top for a weight. However, plastic can leach toxins such as BPA into your food, and besides, pottery is much nicer-looking. If you want to make a relatively small crock, say just a couple of quarts, use 4–6 pounds of clay to throw a cylinder with a flat bottom (no need to trim a foot). Make a simple gallery for the lid by widening the top ½ inch with a rib then pressing down on the inside half of the rim to create the gallery for the lid to rest on. The lid can be thrown flat, with a knob, nothing fancy. In fact, a lid is more or less optional—many fermenters simply tie a cloth over the rim of the crock to keep out dust and insects. 44

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

A finished crock. The weight is set inside and used to press the vegetable mixture down and hold it under the brine.

You need to make sure the gallery doesn’t constrict the mouth of the crock, because you have to make a weight to fit inside. The weight essentially looks just like the lid; it’s a disc of clay with a smaller diameter and a knob on it. I make my crocks slightly flared, and I measure the diameter about half-way down on the inside and use that as the diameter of the weight. This way, it can be used to press down on the vegetables as you pack them into the crock.

Throwing in Sections A large crock, a gallon or more in size, is a perfect project to throw in sections. Start with 4–5 pounds of clay and throw a wide cylinder on a bat. Cut the rim at a 45° angle, holding your needle tool so it points down toward the inside of the cylinder. Measure the outside of the rim with calipers. To throw the second section, start with 3–4 pounds of clay. Open all the way to the bat, and make a cylinder about the same diameter as the first section. Measure the outside diameter of the rim with the calipers to make it exactly the same as the rim of the first section. Cut the rim of this section at a 45° angle, to fit into the rim of the first section. You’ll want to let both sections dry a bit, wrapping the rims with plastic to keep them moist. When the bottom section has stiffened up enough to hold the extra weight, put it back on the wheel and score and slip both sections. Now turn the second section upside down, holding it by the bat, and fit it onto the first section. The rims should ideally match exactly in diameter, in thickness, and in the angle you cut the rims at, but if they’re not perfect, and the clay is still pliable enough, you can probably work the edges together

anyway. Once you’ve smoothed over this seam on the outside, use a needle tool to cut the second section away from the bat. Now all you have to do is smooth the seam on the inside, pull the wall up a bit more, and shape the rim. If you want an even bigger crock, add a third section using the same technique. Make a lid and a weight using 1–2 pounds of clay for each. The weight should be thrown smaller in diameter than the lid so that it can sit deeper into the crock, pushing the vegetables below the brine. When measuring the gallery for the lid, simply pull the lip out just enough to support a lid. This allows the weight to fit snugly inside the crock.

Notes on Glazing It’s very important to glaze your crock with a stable liner glaze. That means you must use a glaze that doesn’t leach toxins, such as cobalt or copper, into acidic foods. The process of fermenting creates lactic acid, which preserves the vegetables and gives them their distinctive flavor, since this acidic liquid will be in contact with the glaze surface for a long time while the vegetables ferment, you should use a glaze that is properly melted at your chosen temperature, and preferably one that has no colorants in it or perhaps only a small amount of iron oxide. I use a celadon inside my crocks, because it’s colored with only a small amount of iron oxide, it’s glossy and easy to clean, and I like the way the pale green color looks with sauerkraut and pickles. You should also be sure to use fully vitrified stoneware clay, since you certainly don’t want your crock slowly leaking as it sits!

Tips on Using the Crock To make sauerkraut in your new crock, mix 1½ pounds of shredded cabbage with 1 tablespoon of salt (this makes about a quart). Let the mixture stand for a couple of hours to allow the salt to extract water from the cabbage. You can knead the salted cabbage with your hands or pound it with a meat tenderizer to speed up the process. The extracted water from the cabbage mixes with the salt to form a brine that preserves the cabbage while it ferments. Pack the mixture tightly into the crock, place the weight on top of the mixture, and press it down until liquid rises above the weight. You may have to add even more weight to keep the cabbage under the brine; use a heavy object such as a clean rock or a can of food. If you can’t get the lid on, cover it with a napkin just until it can be pushed down. Keep your crock below 80°F. Check your ferment periodically. If the brine evaporates and exposes the fermenting cabbage, you can add filtered water. You can taste the ferment after a few days, but many ferments develop their best flavor after several weeks. Often the vegetables at the bottom of the crock develop flavor faster than those at the top of the crock, so you can stir the contents from time to time. When the ferment tastes good, remove it from the crock, pack it into clean jars, and refrigerate. For more information about fermenting, recipes, and instructions, go to Sumi von Dassow is an artist, instructor, and regular contributor to Pottery Making Illustrated. She lives in Golden, Colorado.


Nashville, TN September 13th–15th

Susan Filley

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PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013




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Custom Ceramic Molds—For nearly 20 years, Petro Mold Company has been designing molds for some of the world’s most renowned ceramic artists and potters. Our innovative molds will help you improve productivity with your popular designs. We set the highest American quality standards with our sculpting, mold manufacturing and design services. Visit us today at or (800) 404-5521.

Master Kiln Builders . . . . . . . . . . . 47

Series 2013—Summer Arts School—Painting, drawing, ceramics, fibre art, sculpture, jewelry, hot glass and more—take your art to the next level! Renew, regrow, reconnect.; (403) 356-4900. Great New Handbuilding Templates! Developed by Sandi Pierantozzi. A set of 24 durable, flexible, laminated templates to create circular and conical forms. Perfect for potters or teachers! “HANDBUILT” Philadelphia, PA—Demonstration, Inspiration, Conversation. A Handbuilding Conference to Benefit the Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+). Demonstrators: Lana Wilson, Vince Pitelka, Chandra DeBuse, Mitch Lyons, Sandi Pierantozzi. September 20–22, 2013. Organized by Sandi Pierantozzi. Info and registration:

Great Lakes Clay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Herring Designs/SlabMat . . . . . . . . 46 Highwater Clays . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 L & L Kiln Mfg . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover 4 Larkin Refractory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Mayco . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover 3 MKM Pottery Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Mudtools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Oak Ridge Art Ctr . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Olympic Kilns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Paper Clay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Paragon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Peter Pugger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Potters Council . . . . . . . . . . . . 40, 45 Sheffield Pottery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Skutt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Smith-Sharpe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Spectrum Glazes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Touchstone Ctr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Tucker’s Pottery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 U .S . Pigment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 van Gilder Pottery . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Xiem Gallery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013


KleinReid Hybrid vase mid 18th-century French faience Shoko Teruyama

Martha Grover

Henriot faience, Quimper, France 17th-century Delft

Deb Schwartzkopf

Margaret Bohls Martina Lantin

Laurens van Wieringen

lotus shape with crane decoration, Chinese English Delft Chinoiserie c. 1760

flower bricks & tulipieres 48

PotteryMaking Illustrated | July/August 2013

eQuad-Pro The eQuad-Pro sets the new standard in Production Kilns

12-Key DynaTrol with Dynamic Zone Control • 3” brick • Quad element system (four rows of super heavy gauge elements per 9” high section) • Extra power with branch fusing for high production work • Type K 8 gauge thermocouples with ceramic protection tubes • Full support 14 gauge aluminized steel stand • Solid peephole plugs with full 1” view (no tapering) • Hard ceramic element holders • Proprietary reflective brick coating that protects brick and keeps dusting down • “Easy-Lift, Easy-Load” stainless steel spring hinge system with full-support when door is up and tilted back (there are no support bars to get in the way of loading) • Mercury-free relays • Direct wired • Three-year Limited Warranty

The Quad element system has been proven to extend element life dramatically in over a year of field work in crystalline glaze firing in our JH Series kilns.


Number of Shelves

Inside Diam

Inside Height

Cubic Feet

Exterior Dimensions











20” (2 full & 4 half shelves)




31W x 42H x 42D 13.4 (240V), 11.6 (208V)

56 ~70





25-1/2” (8 half shelves)




37W x 42H x 48D







25-1/2” (10 half shelves)




37W x 51H x 48D






*Note: Special model eQ2836-X-208-1P is available with 16.6 K.W., 208 Volt/1 Phase, 80 amps for a 100 amp fuse. Furniture Kit: includes the shelves listed above plus six (6) each of 1/2”, 1”, 2”, 4”, 6” and 8” high square posts, plus insulated gloves for unloading, and 5 lbs of Cone 10 kiln wash. Cone Rating: Cone 10 More: See for more information. See and for information about the control system.

Toll Free: 888.684.3232 Swedesboro, NJ 08085

L&L Kiln’s patented hard ceramic element holders protect your kiln.

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