Thursday, April 4, 2013

Faux Bone Texture Trick

Needle tracing tool as a texture tool

Last Fall I taught a workshop in the beautiful Oregon wine country (poor me). The venue was Fusion Headquarters owned by artists Gil and Carmen Reynolds. First of all, if you are ever in the Newburg, OR area, the Reynolds have the most adorable apartment you can rent while touring neighboring wineries and they are two of the most charming hosts you will ever meet. 

They are first and foremost, however, accomplished business owners and artists and have a passion for teaching. While I taught students different ways to incorporate their glass work into finished jewelry, Gil and Carmen explored some of the innovative ways they’ve developed for working with glass. One of my favorites was a product called liquid stringer. It can be mixed with glass powder and piped onto glass or mixed thicker and made into a clay. The versatility of this material is amazing and I immediately began playing with ways to pipe it into freeform shapes and will be experimenting much more with this material this year!

Gil and Carmen worked with Faux Bone for the first time and I am proud to say they loved it. They even made nearly identical pieces without even knowing it (he's laughing behind that dust mask)! And as always when I teach, I learned something too. Gil used a needle tracer to trace his saw pattern out on Faux Bone and I was fascinated by all the tiny dots it left. So, I rolled it around on a piece of Faux Bone and rubbed in some acrylic paint to see what would happen. It produced great, finely detailed texture (top photo). Looks like another tool I will be adding to my bench soon (poor me).

Visit Gil and Carmen on facebook!

Monday, April 1, 2013

How to Turn Your Flexshaft Into a Potter's Wheel

Last month, I took a pottery class at The Pottery Loft Studio in Everett, Washington. Evelia Sanchez (below left, with my lovely classmate Karin) took us through all of the necessary steps to throw a clay pot, from how to kneed the clay, loading the clay onto the wheel and work the clay before opening it into a pot.  That's me below, working on my pot and the pot finished and embellished a bit. I had a blast!


Of course, I immediately wanted to go out and buy a potter's wheel...but reality set in and I knew I had not the time or funds to go down this path. But, like most new techniques I learn, it haunted my brain. I really wanted to make some small forms to incorporate into my other work, but found handforming cumbersome. And then it hit me, I had everything I needed right at home!

Before I proceed, I should mention that this tutorial, although it feels like an April Fools joke is real!

Creating a Potter's Wheel Using a Flexshaft

1. Gather your supplies. You will need a round Ziploc container lid, screw mandrel and some silicone adhesive.

2. Drill a hole in the center of the lid (which is marked with a divot), place the lid on the screw mandrel with the screw on the inside of the lid, and apply silicon around the mandrel to prevent water for dripping through onto your handpiece.

3. Place your flexible shaft handpiece in a vise. I have a nylon attachment that holds my handpiece, helping me to avoid damaging the handpiece and giving it a good, firm grip. Throw a lump of kneeded clay onto the lid, centered as best you can. Make sure it is adhered to the lid. Place a bowl of water nearby.

4. Using your foot pedal, start the "wheel" spinning, very slowly. This reminded me why I need a new pedal. Mine, the standard one that comes with a Foredom, is very touchy and hard to keep at a low speed. Moisten the clay and your fingers. Position two fingers on each side of the clay, and one finger on the other side, giving it gentle pressure. On a full size wheel this would be your whole hands.

5. Keep adding water as needed by dipping your fingers in the bowl. Once the clay raises, use your finger to push it back down. You are working towards making sure the clay is truly centered, and that there is no wobble as you work the clay up and down. What I kept forgetting to do was anchor my hand by placing my thumb on top of the other thumb. This has come up in both the pottery class and a flexshaft class I took. It allows for more control.


6. Once the clay goes back down into a squat cylinder, it is time to open the pot. Gently place a finger on top of the clay,pushing downwards and then pushing the clay between your finger and the thumb on the outside (once again forgetting to anchor my thumb). I also tried opening the pot using a nail set. It worked perfectly and I had more control (below).

I still have a lot more playing (lot more = years) before I get my ceramics skills down, but the wheel worked just fine. I will, however, be seeking a slightly firmer lid with a bigger lip. My shirt, my dust collector hood and my morning coffee took the brunt of the spray when I got a little crazy with the water!

Create recklessly this week!