Wednesday, November 12, 2014

a pottery collaboration (now in the shop)

I am super happy to announce that the first batch of collaborative pottery is now in THE SHOP

For those of you new to the blog of if you missed my previous pottery posts (HEREHERE and HERE)- my parents are potters and I've spent my entire life around clay.  I was introduced to clay long before painting and spent a great deal of time dabbling in pottery as a kid. Growing up my mom and dad ran a successful pottery business from their home studio- I spent my childhood watching my dad throw pots on the wheel and my mom run a wholesale tile business. For the last couple of years I've been tossing around some ideas about collaborating with my parents on some fun clay pieces and FINALLY I have time in my schedule to make it happen. 

The first batch of pottery is cups. I love unique glasses and cups- I use them for storing paint brushes, supplies, for flowers and for beverages. So I enlisted my dad to make some really simple, tall, skinny cups without handles that I could then paint with my designs. Since I am crazy passionate about handmade products and about sharing the creative process I thought it would be fun to share our process, the time and the love that went into this first batch.

This is my dad- he has been throwing pots since his early 20's and is crazy good at it! I've been watching him transform a lump of clay into something beautiful since I was a kid and I am always in awe of how amazing the process is!

         throw from Alisa Burke on Vimeo.


After the cups were finished they needed to be trimmed this happens when the clay is firm enough to be handled without damage but not quite dry.

Trimming removes the excess clay typically on lower part of the pot and helps to refine and clean up the shape. Once the pots are trimmed they are ready to dry (here is Oregon it takes a couple of days for pots to dry- even longer during the wet cold winter months).

After the cup dried, they were ready for the first firing in the kiln called a bisque firing. A bisque firing is what transforms that clay into ceramic material. It is also (typically) a necessary step in the glazing process.

Then was time to glaze everything- I used what is called an underglaze for this process (Duncan E-Z Stroke in jet black).  This process was really time consuming for me since it involved lots of brushwork. And since I have a crazy busy schedule during the day, the only way I could fit this project in was to work on it in small chunks of time each evening after Lucy went to bed or early in the morning.

In the last few years, I have spent most of my time on sharing inspiration and teaching so it felt really nice to just sit and create something new. It was totally worth the late nights, stiff neck and cramped hand muscles :)

After everything was glazed, it was time to wax the bottom of the cups! For those new to pottery, you are probably thinking...Another step?! How many steps does it take to make a pretty cup? I'm here to tell you it takes a lot of steps! 

Applying wax to the bottom of pottery is often necessary to keep liquid glaze off the bottom of the cup. Since we dip the cups into a clear shiny glaze, we want to keep that glaze off the bottom otherwise it will stick to the kiln shelves. The wax resist keeps the clear glaze off the cup and then burns away in the kiln. Yes, even Lucy got in on the action waxing a couple of bowls that she glazed!

And then each cup gets dipped into a big bucket of clear glaze and yes it is green but it fires clear.

The last step was to fire the cups again and then unload the kiln. This has always been my favorite part of the entire process- there is nothing better than seeing the final transformation!

And there you have it friends! A peek inside the the pot making process. This was so much fun for me and really special to get to work with my dad. I've got another batch of pots coming soon- this time around it will be bowls made by my mom and glazed by me so stay tuned for more of our family collaborations. In the meantime all pottery is now in the shop HERE.


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