Making Birdie Bowls

While I’m taking some time off, to heal my shoulder and get over a stubborn sinus infection, I thought I’d catch up on some blog posts.

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My birdie bowls started from a sketch I drew a long time ago. I thought it would make a really cute bowl. So, I cut out the original bird and transferred it onto some graph paper, so I could enlarged it. But I ended up taking it to Office Max and had them make it for me. I decided to make three different sizes, one for a birdie bowl, one for a bird ornament, and one for a smaller birdie bowl. Once I had the sizes I needed, I cut them out, and traced them onto a piece of poster board. I made a bunch of them and cut them out so I could have a template…good thing I was good at cutting out paper dolls. And here they are! The only thing is, they don’t last very long. After I use it a few times, it gets messed up, so I have to make more templates. I need to find a better way to do this, so I don’t have to keep cutting out paper birds! In the meantime though, it works great!

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I’ve only used B-mix 5 for my birdie bowls, but I have tried a stoneware clay called #60 on some of my bird ornaments, but I haven’t glazed them yet, so I don’t know how they will come out! If they come out great, I’ll try it on my birdie bowls too.

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After I slice off large chunks of clay with my wire tool, I put them on my slab roller.

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I absolutely love my North Star Slab Roller, it was the best investment I’ve ever made. She is my work horse…I call her Willow Northstar!

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Okay, all the clay I need is on my slab roller. I always, always use an old sheet over the canvas…for two reasons. One, it keeps my canvas nice and clean and two, I have a nice smooth surface. I always overlap the clay and then punch it with my fist. I kind of like punching it, it’s a nice way to get out your frustrations. After I punch it, I cover the clay with another sheet and cover the sheet with my canvas.

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It’s already to roll!

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And here it is…my slab!

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I place the bird template on my slab and trace around the edge with my pin tool.

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After I trace it, I carefully remove the template…hopefully without getting any finger prints or marks on my bird. Then I remove the excess clay around the bird before picking it up.

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Like this! Now I can lift it gently off my slab roller and shape it into a bowl.

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This is what they look like after I shape them into bowls. I let them stiffen up a little before cleaning them, so they hold they’re shape.

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This is what they look like after they’ve been all cleaned up and are completely dry and ready to be bisque fired.

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These are the smaller birdie bowls, they’re really cute too!

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I made some with a pointy tail. What do you think? Should I make more of these?

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And here it is…all finished! I think these were the first birdie bowls that I glazed.

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These are some of the textures and colors I’ve used…Orange, Scarlet Red and Chartreuse. Not sure if I’ll continue to use these glazes? I love the colors but, this glaze is a pain in the butt! It’s never consistent and gives me problems with pinholes…I don’t like that!

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Coyote Light Blue Shino on plain birdie bowls and Scarlet Red on texture.

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And one of my favorite glazes…Indigo Float by Potters Choice. Now this glaze is amazing, not only is it beautiful, it always, always comes out great! Now that’s the kind of glaze I like! Always consistent and perfect!

I’m definitely going to try more Potters Choice glazes, maybe even do some glaze combinations and see how they come out.

making birdie bowls by melinda marie alexander ravenhillpottery.etsy.com

And I’d like to try more Coyote glazes too, especially with some texture. These will definitely be more rustic, I think they’ll look fantastic!

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These will look great too!

Hopefully my shoulder will heal soon and my sinus headaches will go away, so I can start making some pottery. I think this is the fourth week…with a constant sinus headache…I honestly can’t remember now, it’s been so long! It’s day eleven on antibiotics. In the meantime, I’m just hoping I can start concentrating on my writing, so I can work on my book.

No Pottery for a While!

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I injured my shoulder last month.
I rested it for a few days, but as soon as I made something, it flared up again. This happened over and over again. So, I decided to put my Etsy Shop on vacation, but I had to wait until my orders were processed. These are the last two sales I had, before putting my shop on vacation. My shoulder was actually feeling a little better, so I thought …Hmmm, maybe I can still keep it open. But then I packed these orders and it flared up again. I have to rest my shoulder, no pottery, and no packing! Thankfully it’s my left shoulder and not my right.
I’ll still be blogging when I get a chance. Maybe I’ll be able to catch up on all the blog posts I’ve been wanting to do, and hadn’t had the time!
So, now I can work on my book!
If you’d like to see what I’m doing, check out my other blog, Facebook Page and follow me on Twitter. Thanks!
See you soon!

 

Potters Choice – Indigo Float

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I think it’s about time I do a blog post about one of my favorite glazes…

Indigo Float

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I’m usually too impatient to make test tiles. It seems like a waste of time to me. It’s not like you can do anything with them, and they take up space in my workshop. So, I usually test a glaze on something small, like ornaments. If it doesn’t come out good, no big deal, if it does, then I have something to sell. 

These leaves were made from a stoneware clay called #50

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After I test the glaze out on an ornament. I try it on something a little bigger, like these leaves. They were made with B-Mix 5

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Then I like to try something with some texture, like these birds.

Which was made with B-Mix 5

This glaze works well with texture, it’s not completely transparent, but at least it doesn’t cover up the texture like some glazes.

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It definitely works well on this texture!

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Then I try it out on some small bowls. These came out cute!

I love this glaze! It’s so easy to work with, so nice to brush on, and it’s so reliable and consistent. Everything always comes out great, and the color is beautiful too. What more could you ask for?

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Then I combined Indigo Float with Blue Midnight

I applied one coat of Blue Midnight and two coats of Indigo Float on top. It came out great! As a matter of fact, this bowl was on Etsy’s Front Page!

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This bowl was also glazed with one coat of Blue Midnight and two coats of Indigo Float. I did some photo editing on this photo, so the color is slightly off. It looks like the bowl above. After it sold, I turned it into a food photography photo for my Etsy Shop, but I totally forgot about it, until I did this blog post. I need to list this! Even if no one buys it, it makes a great photo for treasuries.

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I made these plain heart dishes not that long ago, they came out cute! 

I just realized that I haven’t tried this glaze on any of my dinnerware. I think it’s time I do that. Hmmm, now I have to decide on which one. Should I use it on some plain plates or plates with texture? Let me know what you think!

A Flock of Birds

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I have a flock of birds…waiting to be glazed.

I love these little birds!

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I made some with a little extra texture.

I can’t wait to see how the glazes react with the texture!

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I made a few in a darker clay body, that has lots of specks.

Hmmm…not sure what glaze to try?

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This little guy is special! He was featured in the…

Arts Business Institute

2nd Annual Great Handmade Holiday Gift Guide – Under $50

http://www.artsbusinessinstitute.org/blog/2nd-annual-great-handmade-holiday-gift-guide-under-50/#utm_source=feed&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feed

He’s been tweeting about it ever since.

I think the other little birds are a little jealous! lol!

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Here are a few of his friends

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These blue birds were glazed with Duncan…Vintage Blue

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Love these glazes!

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The green birds were glazed with Duncan…Antique Celadon Green

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This one was glazed with Duncan…Shino Cream

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And these were glazed with Potters Choice…Deep Sienna Speckle

Potters Chioce Glaze Deep Sienna Speckle

I guess, I’ll just try a bunch of different colors and see what happens!

Since I have a Coyote Glaze firing next, I’ll try those first!

Mansfield Park

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I’m calling this Dinnerware…Mansfield Park

Because
#1 My father was born in Mansfield, Massachusetts
#2 I love Jane Austen books and movies
#3 Every time I look at it…it’s all I can think of!
I’m not sure why?
This design was floating around in my head for 2-3 years before I even made it. I’m not sure what took me so long? I guess, I just have too many ideas floating around in there, not to mention book ideas. I think there’s 5 or 6 book ideas in there somewhere. My mind creates designs way faster than my body can keep up with them. They even keep me from sleeping sometimes.
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Mansfield Park began when I called the ceramic supply company to order some clay. I had an order to fill, and needed some B-Mix clay. I figured, I might as well get some #50 too, but they didn’t have any. I was told that #60 was similar (it’s the clay with the white leaves on the bag), so I purchased a box. When it arrived, I was like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t wait to try it, couldn’t wait to touch it, and work with it. I was too impatient to make test tiles first. So, I rolled out a slab, added texture and made some tapas plates. I made six of them, and with the little pieces of clay that was leftover, I made bird ornaments. 
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The clay was nice and soft…But!
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It has a lot of grog, as you can see. Grog is like tiny little rocks, that’s added to clay, it reduces shrinkage and aids in drying. It also prevents defects like cracking and gives it structural strength for hand-building and throwing.  
Which normally I don’t like. That’s why I use B-Mix.
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Because I didn’t make any test tiles, I went ahead and glazed all six plates, without knowing how they were going to react with my glazes. I had no idea what they would look like, or even if my glazes were compatible with this clay (which probably would have been a really bad idea, if they hadn’t come out good!) Not only that, I had to pick a glaze from the huge glaze inventory I have. I could have used six different colors, but I decided on just one color. Thankfully, I picked the right one!
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Duncan…Shino Cream!
I love these glazes! They’re so easy to use. They brush on so nicely, and they always come out great. I love glazes like that! I think I’m getting really spoiled.   
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Wow! Was I lucky or what? They came out great!
I only have five left. I gave one to my Mom, because the most important reason for naming them Mansfield Park, was to honor my Dad. I wish he could have seen them!
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So, what do you think?

 

 

 

Glazing The Moon!

 

How I glaze…The Moon!

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When I first started making this dinnerware, I hadn’t planned on calling it…The Moon. I was actually thinking of a beachy-coastal theme, especially since I use a sea urchin to produce this texture. But when my husband first saw it, he said. “It looks like the moon.” So I went with it. It didn’t take very long to come up with some names like…New Moon, Full Moon, Moon Dust, Harvest Moon, Moon Shadow and Once Upon a Blue Moon. And I didn’t even have to buy new glazes, I already had everything I needed.

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All the underglazes and glazes I need for this firing, are lined up for easy access. My brushes, and everything else I need is at my fingers tips.

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I place old towels on my table to protect my pottery, it gives it a little cushion, and I don’t want to get wax on my table. It’s so much easier to clean up too. I just roll up the towels and throw them in the washing machine when I have a load. Now I’m ready to wash my plates.

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I use distilled water for washing all of my pottery and for glazing. The reason I use distilled water, is because we have well water. There’s a lot of iron and lime in our water, and I don’t want it to affect my glazes.

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The plates are all washed and drying. Once they dry, I’ll apply black underglaze to the bottom of the plates.

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I use a small brush to apply the underglaze, so I can get inside all the cracks and crevices.

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One coat is done, two more to go!

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After all three coats are applied, I let them dry really well.

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This is the part I’m not to crazy about! Washing (scrubbing) the black underglaze off and leaving it only in the cracks and crevices. I can’t even tell you how many times I need to change the water, or how long it takes! Lets just say, it’s a lot of work.

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One more to go…Yay!

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After all that scrubbing, here they are! All cleaned up and ready for waxing!

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Once the wax is applied to the bottom of the plates, and they are completely dry. They’re ready for glaze. I use a fan brush to apply the glaze on the top of the plates, and a round sable brush for the rim.

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And after three coats of glossy black glaze, they’re ready to load in my kiln.

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This is what the bottom of the plates look like after they are fired. I love the way they look and feel!

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And here they are…all finished!

I’ve been thinking about doing these in the beachy-coastal theme I was telling you about before. Creamy off white clay with beachy colors. What do you think?

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Loading My Skutt Kiln

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This is Charlotte Skutt…my kiln. I’m not exactly sure why I named my kiln, but I did and I think it’s cute!

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I think this is the first time in almost 24 years, that I’ve actually taken photos while loading my kiln. These items are going on the bottom shelf of my kiln. I’m doing a bisque firing, so I can get a whole lot more stuff in this load, then if it was a glaze firing. I can actually stack pottery on top of each other, unlike a glaze firing…they would fuse together.

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The kiln posts are in place, and I’m ready to start loading the bottom shelf.

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The bottom row is loaded, now the next row.

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The next row of items, ready to load.

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I usually start with the larger items, and then fill in the rest of the space with smaller pieces.

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This row is done, now onto the next row.

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Items ready for the next row.

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Oooops! I dropped a leaf and it broke.

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This row is all done, two more to go!

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Some new ornaments!

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The next row is done, one more to go and then I can turn it on.

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Top row is done…Yay! Now I can rest and let Charlotte do her job!

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And approximately 36 -38 hours later. Everything is bisque fired, unloaded and in my workshop.

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Now it’s time to put all these goodies away.

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But before I do that, I need to decide which pieces are getting glazed first.

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Yay! Everything is put away, now it’s time to start waxing and glazing.

 

 

From My Sketchbook – part one!

 

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I was looking through some of my old sketchbooks, and decided…it’s time to make these again.

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I love making sassy handles! I can’t wait to make them, but first I have to finish up some orders.

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I have lots of ideas, on making these fresh and new! So, follow along and see how they come out!

Coyote Glaze Test – part five!

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Light Shino on cone 5 B-Mix Clay!

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Three coats brushed on with a fan brush!

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The plate has one coat of Saturated Iron on the leaves and branches, and three coats of Light Shino. It came out great, but I think it might look even better with two coats of Saturated Iron on the leaves and branches. I’ll have to try it!

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And Light Shino on Dark Brown Clay! I love these!

Coyote Glaze Test – part four!

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Light Blue Shino on cone 5 B-Mix Clay! 

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Three coats brushed on with a  fan brush!

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 They came out great! Can’t wait to try it on pieces with more texture!