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About My Process

Each creation goes through several steps before becoming a finished piece:

First the clay is Wedged. Wedging is kneading the clay in a specific way to make it more pliable, ensure a uniform consistency, and  to remove air pockets as well as small hard spots. This is especially important with "Reclaimed"(recycled) clay.
Since I recycle 95% of my clay scraps this is a very important step in my process when using reclaimed clay.

The next step is  to Throw the piece on my pottery wheel. No, I don't mean I'm pitching hunks of clay at my wheel! (Although, the urge does hit me on especially bad days!)
Throwing is a ceramics term for forming a piece on a pottery wheel.
This term comes from the Old English word Thrawan meaning to twist or turn. This process can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours depending on the complexity of the piece, type of clay being used, and frankly how good a day I'm having.

(It can also depend on how many times my 5 year old grandson comes to the studio asking to "play with clay")

The next step is to remove the piece to a safe area and allow it to dry a bit before returning it to the wheel to be trimmed. During this phase I carefully trim away the excess clay and smooth out any rough spots. This is also when I will attach handles to mugs, add other decorations, and sign my work. 
My signature, 
パンダ, means "Panda Bear" in Japanese. 

After this the piece is placed with the other Greenware (clay forms that have not been fired yet, very fragile!) to either dry a bit more before being carved or to finish drying completely. Carving a piece can take a while depending on the intricacy of the design. 

After a piece is completely dry it is Bisque fired, slowly fired to cone 06 (around 1800 degrees), to harden so it can withstand the painting and/or glazing process. This takes around 8-10 hours. It usually takes double the firing time for the kiln to cool enough for the pieces to be removed.

When the pieces are cool they are then painted and/or glazed, dried, and fired again, this time at a higher tempurature depending on which clay I'm using. Mid-fire clay, cone 5 or 6, will fire to somewhere between 2118 and 2232 degrees. High-fire clay of cone 10 will fire to around 2350 degrees. This firing takes anywhere from 10 to 15 hours (times 2 to allow for cooling) depending on a variety of factors. This is called the glaze firing. This final firing turns the glaze from a mixure of various chemicals into a beautiful (hopefully) coating of glass. The glaze soaks into and flows over the the piece like molten lava and adheres to the clay body to form a permanent bond between the two.   

 

 

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