These pictures below are examples of the glazing challenges that potters experience when making anything with a lid on.
She also discuss the glazing challenges and shows easy techniques to prepare pots for successful glazing.
If you are a potter, how many times have you found a lid stuck to a teapot or lidded box due to the glazing? How many times have you wiped off glaze that you should not have wiped off? How many times did you loose a lovely teapot because you had to break the lid loose from the teapot?
These pictures below are examples of the glazing challenges that potters experience when making anything with a lid on.
Connie Christensen explains how to prevent some of the glazing problems that makes life difficult for potters. Her first online class at Teachinart (Faceted teapot set) was to teach pottery students how to throw a proper tea set on the wheel - using porcelain clay. She used wiggle wire as decoration tool for the faceting and demonstrated how to make you own can handle for the teapot.
She also discuss the glazing challenges and shows easy techniques to prepare pots for successful glazing.
Koos and Antoinette Badenhorst just returned from a memorable trip in Denver Colorado where they had the privilege of seeing the fall colors in the Rocky mountains with snow covering the high tops.
What is Shino glazing?
When Lester Richter wrote the first book about Shino glazes and named it “American Shino: The Glaze of a Thousand Faces”, the title indicated the variety of color and characteristics of Shino.
Being sometimes referred to as the “queen of Shinos”, Connie is ready to share her knowledge of Shinos in her online workshop. Just as Connie and many other successful Shino artists had teachers taking them on the path to success with Shinos, she wishes to bring other potters to the road where they can begin to explore and find their own way with this simple but very exciting glaze group.
This online workshop by Connie Christensen is a perfect place for anyone who wants to understand and use Shino glazes.
Below are some of the early American Shino recipes developed by Virginia Wirt and provided by her brother Tom to the Clayart pottery forum (Potters.org)
Recipe for Virginia Wirt's Shino #1 (provided by Tom Wirt to Potters.org in 2010)
Kona F4 42.2%
Soda Ash 9.6
Virginia Wirt Shino #2 (provided by Tom Wirt to Potters.org in 2010)
Nepheline Syenite 37.5
Kona F4 21.1 *
OM4 Ball 12.5
Soda Ash 4.8
Below is one of the many Shino glazes developed by Malcolm Davis and used by many individual artists and ceramic institutions.
Malcolm Davis Shino
F-4 Soda Feldspar 9.3
Nepheline Syenite 38.6
Red Art 5.7
The author of this blog is Antoinette Badenhorst, ceramic artist, porcelain teacher and writer from Saltillo Mississippi.
Photo credit Koos Badenhorst.
Centering of clay on the wheel is one of the most crucial parts of wheel throwing. This is the time to get the clay particles in the right place and to build on to the wedged clay process. If the clay is not centered correctly, then the pulling-up of the walls becomes a nightmare.
There are some potters who do not know that you can set the wheel to spin clockwise or anti-clockwise. Right handed potters should let the wheel spin anti-clockwise and left-handed throwers should switch the direction of the wheel head to a clockwise motion.
Throwing on the wheel is easier if you use technique instead of force. It is easier to get your arm locked on your upper leg and let you leg do the pushing and steadying instead of just your arms.
This is a video clip from Antoinette Badenhorst Understanding Porcelain e-course.
David Voorhees is a professional potter from North Carolina who works with porcelain. He presents an online workshop at TeachinArt online school of art and demonstrates in the e-course how to do spiral wedging.
For those of you who do not know what wedging is in clay terms, it is to remove all air bubbles or air pockets from the clay. Any air trapped in the clay, makes the centering of the clay on a potters wheel so much more difficult and if an air pocket is trapped inside clay and you fire it in the kiln, it can explode. Wedging helps to spread moisture evenly throughout the clay which helps with easier centering on the wheel. Even if you do not use a potter's wheel and only work with hand building, then wedging is just as important. Many potters have experienced the shock when they opened the electric kiln and see that one of their pots (with air trapped air inside) exploded and messed up all the surrounding pots.
The spiral wedging technique is handy when you have to wedge or knead large clay batches. It is also called the Japanese wedging or kneading. Some potters only use the spiral method. We will post later other wedging techniques.
For more information about David's online workshop or e-course click here to see the contents of the class and to register (Porcelain tips for wheel pottery)
Other interesting links on our website:
One of our online teachers, Antoinette Badenhorst presented a hands-on workshop at the Pottery Studio in Bryanston South Africa where she demonstrated the carving and altering process of porcelain.
She calls porcelain the "Diva of clay" and tells her students that they have to understand the character of the clay to really push it to it's limits.
Here are some of the characteristics of porcelain.
It was then that I chose bone china as the medium I wanted to explore. This has really been an exciting journey and bone china is the body I still work with today.
The body is traditionally fluxed with bone ash and feldspar and stabilised with Kaolin. Fired to 1250C it produces a body of extreme whiteness and excellent translucency.
As a ceramist living in South Africa where the choice of raw materials is more limited and the quality is less regulated than in many other countries, I was determined to make a translucent body with local materials. This is where my choice to work with bone china really paid off. What I discovered is that the bone ash in the body acts as a bleach on any traces of iron present in the kaolin in the body. As the local kaolins are far from the extremely white kaolins available overseas this proved to be a real bonus.
I started with the usual recipe of 50% bone ash, 25% Feldspar and 25% Kaolin which I made into a casting slip, as bone china is almost impossible to throw. Although my first results were not ideal they were very promising and I adjusted this first test. I tried many different kaolins. I changed from bone ash to tri-calcium phosphate which is synthetically produced. And within a few months arrived at a recipe that produced the results I was aiming for. With a few tweaks from time to time this is the recipe I still use today.
The body has a high shrinkage and a tendency to warp in the firing and although I have tried several ways to stabilize the body in the firing with various setters, I now accept the gentle warping produced by the firing as a part of the process.
Choosing to work with bone china for my work is I feel something that has worked really well for me and the work I produce with this body is quite different to any work I would have produced using the porcelain body I was using before.
After 37 years in clay I still fix pots that I love! Yes yes yes, I know some of you will pull out the hammer, but some will want to fix it.
The most important thing any potter can do, is to find out why the piece cracked and then prevent the problem in future. However, there are ways to fix cracking.
Another important thing to consider is if it is at all worth it to fix the crack. If it will take you longer to fix the piece than it would take you to make a new one, then it will be penny-wise-pound-foolish to fix it. It is also good to learn when a crack is really not worth the effort and when it may make a real difference. Some cracks are more worthy to fix than others.
A piece that is strictly for decoration and will not get confused for a utilitarian piece, is a perfect piece to fix, both artificially and structurally; that is with or without ceramic materials. In fact, a crack that distract from the beauty, should be fixed. However, when the utilitarian strength of a piece, for instance the handle of a teapot, is weakened by the fixing process, it is not worth it to put your reputation as a ceramic artist on the line.
All potters must at least fix one crack in their lifetime, or else they have not had the “full clay experience” - I say that tongue-in-the-cheek. However, there was one potter known, not only for fixing cracks, but she changed the whole perspective on American porcelain as she was recognized as the most important United States ceramic artist in the 20th century (Arts and Antiques magazine - March 2000).
Adelaïde Alsop Robineau was born during the last remnants of the industrial revolution in the United States and growing up, she became a painting artist. But as it often went with artists during these times, she worked also as a china painter on ceramics to help support her family.
One of very few women in the USA to study and practice pottery at the time, she worked primarily in porcelain, experimenting with American clay to create a true high-fire porcelain.
Intended as her contribution to a program of The People's University in University City, in 1910 to make "grand, public statements in clay", the “Scarab Vase” won the Grand Prize in pottery at the Turin International Exhibition one year later. At the time American ceramics was not much acclaimed in the world, but Adelaide’s persistence to make the vase successful, changed that completely.
It took her over 1,000 hours to make, but as it often happens with porcelain, there were small cracks when it came from the kiln. Taxile Doat, her teacher advised her to trash the piece, as it appeared to be irreparable. She did not give it up and spent hours grinding bisque to powder, mixing it with some powdered glaze, and filled the cracks. After re-glazing and re-firing, the piece was pulled from the kiln with no signs of cracks or reparation.
Here is how I fix cracks: Mix up some paper clay from your clay body. Add a few drops of clear glaze and some finely grounded bisque from the same clay as the mug. Clean any dust away and add some clear glaze on the chip. As it dries, it may open up some cracks again, but keep filling it with more paper clay. Remember paper clay must still shrink to catch up with the rest of the body, so it needs enough filler that will not shrink that much.
When you put it back in the kiln, put some silica on the shelf under the piece to prevent possible sticking. If it is a foot rim, you may have to sand it when it comes out.
This article was written by Antoinette Badenhorst, ceramic artist and writer from Saltillo Mississippi. (www.porcelainbyAntoinette.com)
Many potters dream about having their own wood fired kiln, but what exactly goes on behind the scenes. We asked David Voorhees, one of our online teachers who has his own wood fire kiln in North Carolina to answer some of the most common questions about wood firing.
How long does it take to fire the kiln? How long does it take to pack and unpack the kiln? How much wood do you use? How long do you normally fire the kiln?
Every wood-fired kiln is different as they are all site built and of varying dimensions. Firing lengths can vary for effect as well with many potters reaching cone 10 or 2300F then holding it there for a day or more to accumulate melting wood ash. My kiln is pretty straight forward with a rise to cone 10, then spraying a few pounds of soda ash solution followed by slowly shutting it down as the last of the firebox wood gets consumed. My kiln holds about 250 pots and takes 26-28 hours to fire and 3 days to cool down. I usually have 3 to 6 potters join me with a few pots and some firing duties. Since it also a car kiln it is easy to load taking only two to three hours to load and get started. Unloading takes less than an hour. I try to fire 4 times a year using about 1 1/2 cords of sawmill scrap wood for each firing. Wood preparation is a big job requiring helpers. Plentiful seasoned and dry wood is a must. Wood firing is an amazing community building effort and quite different from much studio pottery work time alone in a studio. To help with that aspect I have incorporated a pizza oven into the kiln design. When the firing is done, we make and eat pizzas! Hard work but very rewarding.
The trolley just after pulling it out. Note the twist bottle leaning with the brown topped jar; these two fused together during the firing. The jar was on the trolley near the center post with drip, the twist bottle was on the bag wall and they got too close, fusing up. To extricate them without losing other pots I had to reach in through a 6" gap, using my iPhone to "see" what was going on. I then removed smaller pots through the gap and made room to move larger pots off of the top kiln shelf so I could lift up the fused pair onto the shelf where they now sit. Fortunately, the only pot lost was the twist bottle which gave up a chunk when pulled from the jar. A small price for an important lesson with car kilns: leave lots of clearance!
David presents a 6 weeks online workshop at TeachinArt (porcelain tips for wheel pottery).
He shows potters how to push the limits of porcelain and demonstrates the easy way to get the best out of wheel throwing.
There are some interesting books about wood firing.
Antoinette Badenhorst and David Voorhees, both professional potters and teachers at TeachinArt shows how to make your own plaster wheel for the pottery wheel. This demonstration was presented during the recording of David's e-course Porcelain Tips For Wheel Pottery at the studio of Antoinette in Saltillo Mississippi.
How to make a plaster bat by Mima Boskov from South Africa
Mima Boskov is a South African potter who completed the Understanding Porcelain e-course of Antoinette Badenhorst at Teachinart.
She learned in the online workshop how to make a plaster bat for her pottery wheel and then she decided to create her own version of the plaster bat. That is why TeachinArt is a platform for Artists who teach Artists. Mima is a typical example of one of the success stories of online teaching.
Here is Mima's explanation in her own words.
I took up pottery a few years ago, in an attempt to discover my Creative Self, liberate the Inner Child, find the Artist Within - ah, you've heard it all before: mid-life crisis and how to solve it...
I've been wedging, throwing, despairing, buying books, Googling and reading articles with genuine passion ever since.
I'm still waiting for the Artist, but I've revealed a determined Artisan Within, and sure have hatched an Inner Gyro Gearloose (for the younger among us, that's the whacky inventor from Donald Duck cartoons). The hatchling grew out of my frustration with relatively poor choice of pottery tools in South Africa: no Mudtools, no Griffin Grip, no Strongarm centering tool, no plaster bat mold systems... So many tempting goodies that one can glimpse on internet pages, but can't source locally. Ordering online involves shipping and import duties, and the price becomes extravagant.
There is an Afrikaans saying in my country: 'n Boer maak 'n plan.
It literally means "the farmer makes a plan", but is used when lateral thinking helps one find a novel and ingenious way of surmounting an obstacle.
I realized that being the Boer with 'n plan and making my own pottery tools gives me almost as much pleasure and sense of achievement as making pots.
We needed plaster bats for the Understanding Porcelain course. I had been trying to develop a plaster bat system for my wheel for a while, and a detail from Antoinette's drawing made everything click together.
I hope that my bat-making report can inspire and entertain other TeachinArt students, so I'm sharing it here with all of you:
I have a Shimpo Aspire wheel, which comes with pins on the wheel head and two plastic bats. I don't like the bats for throwing, but they came in handy for this project:
For my plaster bats, I used two pieces of dowel (10 mm diameter dowel - matching the diameter of wheel pins - cut to 15 mm length), and a lucky find from a hardware store, electrical department, called "rubber grommet". I have no clue what is it actually meant to be used for, but I browse hardware stores with enthusiasm that normal females reserve for shoe shops, always on a lookout for useful parts for my various projects.
Before assembling it, I attached a clay coil to the edge of plastic bat, and built it into a thin wall (that came from Antoinette's drawing).
Sunlight dishwashing liquid is a good mold release
I inserted wooden dowels in the plastic bat holes, and put grommets on them
For my 25 cm plastic bat, I used 500 ml of water, and as much plaster as water would hold, and poured it on the bat
After half an hour, the clay wall can be taken off, and the plaster smoothed out with a metal ruler. The sides can be tidied up with a Sureform blade and green scouring pad.
In another half hour, plaster can be taken off the plastic bat, using a thin spatula. After removing the dowels, the rubber grommets stay safely embedded in the underside of the bat, so the whole thing can be attached to the wheel head pins, and reused many times without damaging the plaster
A thin rubber mat on the wheel head helps secure the bat
Today I made four plaster bats, and have no more excuses to postpone this week's assignment - tomorrow I'll start throwing porcelain, however intimidating it is...
What is TeachinArt?
TeachinArt is an online school of art that was founded by Koos and Antoinette Badenhorst in 2015 in Saltillo Mississippi. Teachin is the way the Mississippians pronounce teaching and was a good starting point for a online school that originated in the South.
In 2015, the couple were teaching only Antoinette's porcelain e-courses from their website PorcelainByAntoinette. Antoinette's international students requested a greater variety of online workshops and suggested adding multiple professional artists to the school.
What triggered the creation of the school?
In 2013 Koos and Antoinette moved back from Chicago to Saltillo Mississippi, the first place they called home after moving to the United States in 1999. They looked at each other one day while still in Chicago, asking themselves what is the most important thing that Americans may need. They came to the conclusion that 3-dimentional (critical) thinking is in a serious decline. In a world in which Walmart and Home Depot with ready made products rule, it becomes harder to think creatively. They decided to explore online teaching of the arts.
When they started with the idea of creating an online class, they did not know where to begin and did not know if it may work; clay is such a tactile activity.
What is the objective of teaching an online school?
The couple wanted a platform where students can learn at their own place and their own time from a computer of their choice, while having direct access to the instructor for expert answers to student questions. They wanted to offer non-credit classes, with the content and substance of a college curriculum.
Antoinette's first e-class was Understanding Porcelain. This e-learning idea was very successful and they followed up with more pottery classes, some of which are not related to porcelain. Soon they received requests from their international art students for more specific workshops.
They realized then that there is big demand for professional online training where students can afford the teaching and do it from the comfort of their own place. No travel costs, no expensive workshop fees, being close at home and they can do it on their own time without sacrificing any of their existing project at home. They were on their way to an Online School of Art.
With Antoinette as the only instructor, they had wide open opportunities to bring in more instructors.
David Voorhees from North Carolina joined the team with his 40 years of ceramics and teaching experience and in February of 2016 his workshop Porcelain tips for wheel pottery was recorded in Antoinette's porcelain studio in Saltillo Mississippi. David brought an interesting new challenge to the porcelain potters and shared with them different projects that really challenged their skills.
The re-known Marcia Selsor who taught art at the Montana State University as well as the University of Texas became part of the teaching team when her Alternative Firing workshop was recorded in June 2016 in Antoinette's studio.
Marcia shows students how to make their own raku kiln and use it then to do obvara, raku, ceramic and foil sagger firings.
To close a very good year, Connie Christensen from Colorado came to the recording studio in October 2016 and presented her Faceted Teapots class that opened for registration in early 2017.
During the past 2 years they offered almost 400 classes to 250 international students.
How are classes presented to the students?
The classes are presented as videos that are supplemented with reviews, sketches and images. Questions from students are answered by the teachers and shared with all the students. Each week of an e-course represents about one day of a traditional hands-on workshop. They recommend students to follow all the steps and projects of the instructions and to create the projects in the convenience of their own workplace at their own pace. Students can choose to do the projects or just follow the demonstrations.
During the recordings of the classes, instructors and videographer pay special attention to details. Students can see hand positions and actions close-up and from all angles. TeachinArt online classes differ from YouTube videos and DVD’s because students have direct access to the teachers for the duration of the workshop. Students can ask questions about any part of the videos, in the same way they would in a regular workshop.
Students may present images of their work or share personal problems regarding the work for commentary to the instructor. All students have the opportunity to mingle with other students while the class is running and have access to the group for as long as they choose.
Antoinette said "We are still in our infant shoes, with so much to learn, but this way of distant learning benefit students who work full time or who cannot attend a traditional workshop for some or other reason."
There is a gap of education between college trained artists and hobby artists. Therefor TeachinArt pay painless attention to creating quality courses for students who are interested in expanding their knowledge and expertise in the visual arts, without having to work through an extensive college curriculum.
With the first 2 years behind, 2017 is the first year that the school started overlapping classes in an effort to offer continuity in the programs. If everything works out according to the plan, they will produce between 6-10 new classes this year and hope to start adding jewelers, painting artists, sculptors and other fine arts and crafts in the near future.
Webmaster: Koos Badenhorst (KoosPhotos.com)