The creative process | Behind the scenes

We learn, we grow. This I know.

This little photo collection is from inside my studio, as I create a vase.

The first step, not even shown here, is the creating of the vessel itself on my potter’s wheel.
It takes about 8 pounds of clay, and once it is shaped, the piece is set aside until it is leather hard, and able to be

The whole process takes about 4-6 weeks…of patience.
Hope you enjoy!

Here is what I love to do. Carve.
Bases! I enjoy carving a unique ‘foot’. Typically it is a round base. I like to create a more moving and interactive platform.


Earlier in the process, I apply lines to initiate the design
I want to carve into the vessel. Normally I free-hand draw it in lightly with a pencil. This time I apply black slip, which I know will be carved away. It makes it easier to see the overall design. Typically black ink is used because it burns away, however I use what is on hand.

You can tell that the base is still in the early stages of being tapered to give a more floating feel.


The next step is carving in the grasses and tapering the base even more.


Once the vase is completely carved, it is tipped right side up, ensuring
the base is level and more refining is done to the carving.

I want to add some detailing to the top, so I incorporate some piercing. (Removing of clay)

My work is a ‘work in progress’…until I feel the design is balanced.


Making sure the top will marry into the rest of the vessel, I alter the rim design.


You can see here that I do even more alteration, to blend the top rim into the design of the base.

There is a fine line between working it….and working it too much.
I had much discussion with myself to ensure I didn’t ruin the piece by overdoing it.

The scary part is when you pierce. There is no turning back once the clay is cut away.

Here you can see a side profile of the whole design. There are elements that I bring to the top, that are not seen here. Some of the grass tips flow to the top and join with some of the piercings.

I am wanting to add some texture to the complete vessel.

So I use cheese cloth and burnish it into the body of the vessel and when the cloth is removed, there is an impression of texture that remains.

When I am done with the texture application, I wash the complete vessel
very lightly to smooth out the carving lines ever so slightly. In order to protect the texture, I cover it with shellac resist before washing.

It is time to say “done”,

I have the piece lo-fired with a number of other pieces. Here you can see the color of the clay body when lo-fired/bisque fired is a slightly creamy white. Lo-fire is cone 06.

Last, but not least. And as they say in the pottery world. You are never happy with the piece until it is high fired and in your hands. The glazing of the interior is completed, and the exterior is coated with a red iron oxide.

This oxide gives my pieces their ‘distinction’ if you will. I want people to feel the carving. If it were a glassy glaze, it would lose it’s organic nature, which is what I am after.
It is sitting on the shelf at the Art Center, waiting to be high-fired. Which for me is cone 6.

Well, the trip to the Art Center to pick up the completed piece was a success.

Here is the finished product at a local gift shop.
Bottom line…I am happy with it. 😀

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