Handbuilding Week 4

Discussion of “transparent” Glazes, Slab “Wrapping”, Sprigging 

For Week 4

A discussion of glazes and group glazing

2 pitchers made of overlapping slabs

Sprigging a small pinch pot

We went into the glaze area and looked at the glazes that are and are not going to let slipped surface decorations show through. 

Here is a list of the best ones (in order somewhat ) that will let the slip show through.

1. Shaner Clear – BUT bare stoneware looks gray. Porcelain looks white. *

2. Celadon– anemic on porcelain but almost as good as clear certainly it will tinge your colors green. A fairly forgiving glaze.

3. The Shinos if they are thin- best is Shino water you can also use Soda Ash water. Stoneware goes Orange-y. You can apply it with a brush or a sponge and you can sponge it off.

4.The Josh’s– I prefer Josh Green as it’s lighter and offers a bit more contrast but every drip and double thickness will show. Josh is fussy that way.

5. Shaner White – colors will look a little pastel-ly or washed out under  this.* note that BOTH the Shaner glazes like to “eat” (absorb) iron and if you use red iron, it can disappear completely under a Shaner glaze.

Glazes from the front room: Rutuile Blue – I’ve gotten some nice results from this; and Randy’s Green **which is not food safe.

After this point, The glazes below can let slip show but it will be in a limited capacity and they should be applied thinly:

Aviva Blue and Temoku

We also talked about application. It is possible to thin your glaze coat by rinsing your pot in water briefly just before dipping it- then it absorbs less glaze.


Slab “Wrapping”

This was inspired by a couple of pieces I have that were made by  Robert Yost and I bought at Lill in the mid 1990’s.

robert yost sugar and creamer

I demonstrated by making  a  couple of vessels that involved overlapping slabs

It’s a nice aesthetic touch to thin the edges with a rolling pin or brayer (thanks Jason!)It’s easier to bond them  and they’re less likely to warp up if they are thinner.

using-a-rolling-pin-to-thin-the-edge1Then I took those slabs and just started trying them out until I got a shape I liked. then I attached them to a base and overlapped the thinned out edges.


Now, how to firmly bond these flaps together and keep that “untouched” quality as well as letting the seam show? I used the brayer against the dowel which was on the inside for support. This gave a great surface quality.


after we had a basic container, I decided to fold over the top and enclose the space more.

folded-over-to-enclose-the-form1 I ended up inserting the dowel inside the pot (where my hand wouldn’t fit) and rolling the brayer over it. It was exactly what we needed to maintain surface continuity.

brayer-to-bond-the-clay-dowel-inside-for-support1Then I folded over the back and did it again

dowel-method2This gave us a pot with tremendous attitude and posture. As its personality emerged, I realized it need some feet.

cutting-away-some-of-the-foot2Then after smoothing it some with the brayer, I tapped the foot on an immobilized dowel to emphasize those legs.

tapping-on-a-braced-dowel2Here is how it looks afterwards.

the-result-of-tapping-on-the-dowel2 Now it was time to add a handle. Again, we wanted the handle to be consistent in look and surface quality with the rest of the pot so instead of pulling a handle, I once again used the brayer.


I also wanted to show how to make a hollow handle that would have also suited this method. 

I threw out a slab and really rolled the edges thin. then I simply rolled it up-

beginning-to-roll-a-hollow-handle2and curved it. once it was curved, it was strong enough to withstand the brayer treatment to seal down the edge of the overlap.

gently-curve-it-as-you-close-it2Then  I attached it to a much less successful piece and braced up the handle to dry a little back to back with the other one.

supporting-the-handles-as-they-dry-hollow-handle-on-the-left2I have since modified the pot on the left as I thought it was proportionally ugly.




Sprigging is a traditional surface decoration and it just takes a little practice to get good at it. With a mold it’s a nice way to get a repeating raised pattern. These look good under breaking glazes like Temoku,  Celadon,Josh Green or Shino (there are other too).

I made a couple of very casual sprigging molds last week and they got bisked.

sprigging-molds2They are pretty shallow.

You make a small coil of clay and smear it down into the mold. It’s key to leave a small part fat so you have something to grasp to pull it out.

smear-the-clay-down-into-the-mold-leaving-a-thickness-to-grasp2as soon as it’s pressed in there, pull it up again- the mold will dry it out if you leave it in there and it needs to be flexible to come out in one piece and also to curve to fit the surface of your pot.

pull-it-out-while-its-flexible2once it’s out you can clean it up a little but the back surface should be thin enough to just blend on to the surface of the pot.

this-is-fine2with such fine pieces, you needn’t score- just wet the surface. 

wet-the-surface-and-then-use-a-brush-to-blend-it-onto-the-surface2I’ll try to insert a photo of this piece when it’s finished.


I also wanted to show Leah’s Jug-in-progress- maybe we can watch it as it develops.

She’s made the base out of coils and is going to let it firm up a bit before adding on top of that. It’s quite difficult to make a large coil pot all at one go. The coils at the bottom need to firm up in order to support the weight of the coils above.


and Roya’s really cool vase! Isn’t that a neat idea? and the flowers can be supported in the various openings.

royas-piece2See how she “faked” it to look like there is a ribbon of clay threading out through the vase wall? I see possibilities for a series here as she explores this idea.

Handbuilding Week 2

Throwing a foot onto a piece and boxes

For week 2 of Handbuilding I demonstrated:

Throwing a foot onto a handbuilt piece

Making a Butter dish- folded clay method

Making a box with a lid- pieced method


Thanks again to Leah who makes recording this class seem effortless!

I attached a low profile plaster bat to a wheel.

attaching-bat-to-wheelclay-dots-to-hold-plate-to-batYou can see I’ve put three dots of clay on there to hold the piece I chose.

I took a plate that I made last week using the Eric Jenson method and I put it on the plaster form and centered it as much as I could (it’s an asymmetrical form)

Then I used a wire brush tool while the wheel was moving to scratch a circle the size I wanted the foot to be  in  the surface of the plate.

scoring-a-circle-on-the-plateI further scored it with a needle tool and wetted it .wetting-the-circleI then rolled a coil and laid it on the circle, cutting off excess so that it fit.


Then I firmly smeared the entire outside and inside of the ring to attach it to the plate bottom. attaching-the-coil

Once it was completely attached I turned on the wheel again and  used a medium wet sponge to smooth the irregularities created by the smearing of the clay and then I shaped the foot.

throwing-the-coilHere is the finished foot.



Next we started on basic ways to make a box. I started with a folded form.

Draw a pattern that is all one piece, the top (or bottom) and sides. Make sure all the sides are the same height.



Cut around the pattern and then push down on the lines you do not cut to make crease lines.  I used a needle tool but you could use a pointy wooden tool or a fettling knife

adding-creasesI also chose to add  “tabs” to the sides to strengthen the corners of my butter dish.


Fold up the sides of your form now.


After scoring and wetting the points at which the edges will touch,

scoring-points-of-contact(note that I have thinned the tabs)

attach the sides to each other and fold and attach the tabs around the corners.


Here, I’ve flipped it over now and I am smoothing the corner with a rib  to define the corners or joints to be more square (or you could use the rib to make them be more rounded if you like.)


To make a lid, use the butter dish lid as a template and give ample space as you trace around it.


I used a loop tool to make a subtle indent in the base.



For the other box, I cut all the pieces separately then joined them the same way, scoring and wetting them before using firm pressure to join them together.

If you want to reinforce those corner joints you can always add  a thin coil and blend it in. I  think it’s easiest to blend in a triangular coil as it fits nicely against the walls.

reinforcing-the-joinThis is only partially smeared so that you can see it. It also does not go the full length of the wall as it should. The upper left vertical corner also is fully reinforced and the coil is completely blended. For contrast you can look at the right side which does not have a reinforcing coil.

For the lid, I put an inside flange or lip to keep the lid from sliding off. You can be very precise about this and measure and mark it  or just guess and have a loose fitting lid (as I did).


I scored the area and then took rectangular coils and bevelled them at the corners to fit.

adding-inner-lip-1adding-a-lipI then used a flat piece of wood to straiten the edges


Then I paddled them to make sure they stuck to the scored and wetted area.


The drying box and lid. You’ll note I added feet to the box- these were just rounded flat triangles bent and attached at each corner with water, scoring and pressure again.finished-box-and-lid