This is one time when even cooked rice added to my paperclay did not survive the bisque fire. Large chucks from the sides of my hand pinched bowl blew out during the bisque fire. I cannot figure out what is causing this as the piece was bone dry when it entered the kiln. It had also been drying in my studio for several weeks prior to the bisque fire. These kind of failures happen once in a while (about 5 - 10% of the time) and I'm still trying to find out the common underlying factor.
I use left over cooked rice and sometimes I let the rice dry out for several days. When I leave the rice out for too long, they start to dry out and get hard and crusty. Then I rehydrate them to soften them up again so I can wedge them with my paperclay. Could this affect the outcome? Perhaps some moisture still remains within the clumps of rice causing the blow out.
This method of making my hand-formed bowls and cups takes so much longer to make than if it had been thrown on a wheel. The successful end product, however, it worth the effort.
I've used several type of inclusions with my paperclay. They range from sawdust, wood chips, straw, rice hulls, and cooked rice. Recently I had a chance to try perlite mixed with my paperclay. Perlite is an inorganic material that is used as a conditioner to improve the aeration and water retention properties of soil. I got my bag of Perlite from Home Depot in the garden department. In this test, I was curious to see what the voids look like after the bisque fire.
The picture on the left shows a simple pinch form made from paperclay mixed with perlite. The amount of perlite used is just an estimate; enough to give some kind of texture. It survives the bisque fire without any problems. The form is extremely light. After sanding the outside surface of the form with a metal rasp, the random voids can be seen.
Compare this with the sphere on the right side (it's part of a sculpture I'm currently working on). It this piece, I used paperclay mixed with cooked rice. The mixture was applied as a thin coat (about 3/8" thick) over a bone dry paperclay sphere using paperclay slip as "glue." Many more regular shaped voids can been seen all over the bisqued surface of the sphere after sanding.
I was hoping to see more irregular voids from the perlite. I do see that some of the perlite still remains trapped in the bisque ware. I find the perlite from the bag is more varied in size, some ranging from size of coarse sands to around 1/4" in diameter.
I want to take both of these to high fire (cone 10 reduction) and am curious to see how the perlite behaves. I know how the paperclay mixed with cooked rice will behave as I have been using this technique for several years. I'll post another entry in the blog once I have completed this test.
This sculptural vase set started from 3 very humble pinch pots that I demonstrated for my paperclay class at the Irvine Fine Arts Center.
After the 3 individual pinch forms were bone dry, they were joined using dry to dry techniques. Additional textural elements at the base of the forms were also added, using the same technique.
Outside glaze is Tenmoku. The Tenmoku glaze breaks to a very nice brown color where the glaze is thinner. I opted for this glaze instead of Coleman's Gloss Black to give an aspect of texture and dimensionality to the composite form. Inside was glazed wax white. These glazes are part of the standard set of glazes available at the Irvine Fine Arts Center.
The paperclay is Aardvark IMCO Ivory sculpture paperclay. High Fire Cone 10 reduction.
I enjoy making my pinch pots. It's a time to slow down and enjoy the relationship between you and the clay. It is you trying to make something definite out of the clay and the clay teaching you how it wants to behave.
There are many things this humble low-tech form can teach us if we take the time to find out. Many new comers to clay rush past this "technique" to go on to other things, be it wheel throwing, slab construction, hand building, etc. In the paperclay class I teach, I have students make 3 pinch forms in the first class, set aside to dry completely and then later on use them for the dry-to-dry joining techniques.
It takes skill to make a beautiful pinch form. I still find myself limited to a symmetry that I'm trying to break out of.
Here are some simple pinch forms I made (from clay samples given out) during the paperclay workshop I attended earlier this month. You can tell which one I spent the most time on. The clay is Aardvark Papel Cone 6 porcelain. They are bone dry greenware, not fired yet.
This is a picture of my hand pinched Black Mountain sculpture clay bowl that was involved in a "mini explosion" inside the glaze kiln. It was the largest pinch bowl I made so far; 9"Dia x 6.5"H. The shards from the exploded pot landed inside my bowl and fused with the glaze.
Part and parcel of the going ons in a community kiln. Most of the time my pieces come out fine out of the Cone 10 reduction firing.
To quote my instructor, Julia Klemek, "Don't fall in love with your piece until it comes out of the kiln."
I think this will make a great Ikebana flower bowl!
This opening paragraph is from Steven Montomery, New York, New York. His sculptures and article is in the January 2010 issue of Ceramics Monthly.
"An intense and unwavering commitment to my work preceded any idea of generating income from art. Any idea, or body of work, worthy of the honor of being purchased by a collector or museum is usually made presuming it will not generate a dime, but must be made nonetheless."
This is EXACTLY how I feel about my work. I was so thrilled to know someone else feels this way. To create a piece of work that is driven by one's passion and not by the thought of how much one can charge for it.
I have to admit that at times I hear and feel the latter thought in the back of my mind wanting to come out; wanting to be entertained. I feel this is a dangerous road to take because the reason for creating my work begins to shift. Then, I am no longer true to myself.