What Do Ya Get When You Mix Clay, Chocolate, and Snow?

I’m back in my studio after what seems like a long absence. With Thanksgiving, the early December holiday sale, Christmas travel, and New Year’s Eve now at hand, I have only made very few pots. Something I did get completed was a lil’ commission. Literally a “lil’ ” commission as it was for Trell at Lill’s on 17th.
And I learned something while I made the cups…watch this:




Poke out a lil’ (today’s word) bulge for the bottom of the handle to rest on.

(mmm…Potter loves fire.)

I got so excited thinking about some chocolate that was sitting on my sketch book that I forgot to take a picture of the cups with the handles on…

And so…

“Night, night.” A potter knows that this is when things are left enclosed in plastic over night to, well…rest. The moisture content throughout is inconsistent. Top is dryer than the bottom, handle is softer than the cup. Not a good time to dip in slip. Tuck it in for a good night’s “sleep” and tomorrow the clay object will be all evened out. Typically, ceramic things are not made, altered, decorated, and left to dry out all in one day. There are exceptions, of course…especially those of you who work in dry climates. (A non-potter does not know this. This is why you are amused when you ask a potter, “How long did it take to make that?”, and the potter answers, “Uh…well, uh…”)

The next day is when I learned something:

These are made with red terracotta clay. Look…two of them have white slip on the interior as well as the exterior. I did these two first…I poured white slip inside and poured it out. Next, they were dipped down into the liquid slip to cover the entire cup except the very bottom. Then I set them aside and walked away. This is something I learned a long time ago. It is a lesson that, at the very least, toys with all potters. It is: When you do something, anything, different…don’t go doing it to a whole bunch of stuff until you figure out if something bad is going to happen. It is a lesson that is oft learned by the accompaniment of, hmmm…shall we say, “words spoken out loud”.

When I came back to check on the cups (at Red Star Studios, there is always a side attraction), I noticed that both cups had ovaled out a bit. Oh, and here is a “side attraction” for you. I am noticing now with Spell Check that oval can’t be made into a verb. Instead of changing this to the proper state… say, “moved from the original circular shape into an undesired oval shape”, I am going to invent a new word. It is “ovaled”. It is a verb…in the past tense, of course. Anyway, this happening was not entirely unexpected. It occurs occasionally when I make my Chicken Truck cups.

You could have your very own Chicken Truck Cup, by the way. It’s not just a cup…it’s Performance Art”. (I’d have to demonstrate for you.) The plate…the Chicken Track plate… it’s just a plate.)

OK, back to the ovaling. Look! I did it again! I invented a new word! It is “ovaling”. This is also a verb. I don’t know if my new verbs are transitive or intransitive. Do you know? I will need to decide this before I submit my new verbs to the dictionary people so that you, too, may use my new verbs. I love Spell Check.

When the cup is dipped into a liquid, the clay rehydrates. As the rim becomes softer it allows the weight of the handle to pull it out of shape. Wasn’t a big problem with the C.T. cups as they are quite short and the handles smaller. Makes sense that this can happen with more frequency concerning taller cup that has a heavier handle.

What to do? I figured that if I dipped the exterior first, the interior would not hydrate… be stronger and not allow the handle to “have its way”. Turns out…true. So I did the exteriors and waited until the end of the day to pour the interiors. (My problems are not usually solved this easily.)

After a bit of sgraffiti, the happy cups were bisqued, dipped in a clear glaze, and fired to cone 03.

Perhaps, at this moment, a Lill’s family member (they just don’t seem like “employees”) is enjoying a cup of hot something in their holiday gift from Trell.

Thank you regular readers! I know you are out there because my “blog mistress” shows me the number of clicks for every day. (You are only a number if don’t click and make a comment…just sayin’.) I hope you enjoy my ruminations. Whenever I update my blog, I post on facebook. If you become my facebook buddy, you will know when this happens! I have nightmares of people clicking on my blog and being disappointed by an “old post”. Uh, that last sentence is not true. Actually this is all a nefarious plot on my part. I figure that if you read my blog you will, at some point in time (hopefully before my rent is due), click on my website, www.taradawley.com and happen upon the “Buy It Now” page. Nefarious, yet altruistic because I know that if you have my pottery in your home, you will live happily ever after. Rather sweet of me, don’t you think?

To readers and non readers (you “non readers” will never know this) of this blog… on this, the last day of 2009, I wish you a very Happy New Year!



4 Responses

  1. Hey Tara,
    I look forward to your posts updating us all on your current studio and non studio happenings. Have a great New Year. I think that i may be interested in the performance chicken and truck cup performance art.

    • Thanks and a Happy New Year to you, too Brock! I’m surprised you have not already seen the performance!

  2. Your work deserves a standing ovalation.

    • “Ovalation” I love it! Shannon, you may stand in line with me at the dictionary people’s cubicle.

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