Big Ceramic Store Blog

Monthly Archives: February 2016

  • With a lot of glazes, you don't really know what to expect when you open the kiln lid. It's even more surprising when you use Shino glazes! The use of soda ash in the glaze, causes carbon to be trapped, resulting in interesting spotting and runs.

    In today's post, I will show you a few examples of Shino glaze in action. You will see results when Shino is layered over and under other glazes. You might even get to see what it looks like all by itself!

    Grab your coffee and follow me to the studio. And, if you haven't already, fire up the computer and get ready to order some Shino for your inventory. I'm sure you will love the results as much as I do!

  • My daughter Amanda is an art teacher in North Carolina, so whenever I have a dilemma, I reach out to her for suggestions. I often bounce ideas off of her, or send her pictures of works in progress for critique. After all, she has an art degree, right?

    A while back, I was talking to her about some challenging pieces I had coming up, and her comment was, "Mom, your pieces are really pretty, I just think you need to be a little more "organic."

    My first thought... What in the world is "organic"? Is it the type of clay I use? Or maybe it's the designs I put on it? I really had no idea what I was looking for. Organic to me was always food grown without chemical or hormonal influence.

    I hung up the phone feeling a little frustrated! Although she tried to explain organic to me, I just didn't get it. You see, I'm kind of a perfectionist, and she was telling me that organic isn't perfection, it's natural. That was hard for me. I thought clean lines, and crisp corners, were the way to go.

  • The other day, I was using a ribbon tool, and thought about how far tools must have come over the years. I could imagine our ancestors using sticks, stones, bones, teeth, etc... to carve designs into their clay bodies.

    If you search the web for clays origin, you will find numerous answers. Some state clay vessels began in Japan around 400BC, others state it was earlier than that. I haven't got a clue who's right, because I certainly wasn't around to confirm it.

    Anyway, I was thinking about the options available on the market today, and how easy it is for us to achieve amazing results because of them. From fine lines, to intricate flowers, one type of tool I find invaluable is the ribbon sculpting tool.

    In today's post we'll go over some techniques for using ribbon tools. As always, what I show in the post is just the tip of an iceberg, so use your imagination and explore the possibilities!

  • Valentine's Day is over, and Easter is just around the corner. What better way to prepare for it than to make your own baskets? Maybe you want one for on your counter, or maybe you sell your wares and need a new item for the sales line. I think this may be the year I make one for each of my children as a family heirloom.

    There are so many possibilities when it comes to making your own basket. My youngest daughter is a beachy kinda girl, my middle daughter is more primitive, and my son is a nature buff. Using colors, techniques and shapes, I'm sure I can create unique and personalized baskets they will be proud to display.

    A little clay, engobe, underglaze, tools and a few brushes is all I will be using for this project. Ready to make a basket with your personal touches? Well, grab your coffee and follow me to the studio.

  • If you follow our blog, you may remember, the post we did a couple weeks ago on essential tools for wheel throwing. Today, we're going to talk about the tools I find essential for hand-building.

    Hand-building is my favorite method of working with clay, next to sculpting, that is. There's just something about the way you can turn a flat piece of clay into something incredible. With angles and curves, lids and feet, and texture... OMG... it's awesome!

    Anyway, in order to do those incredible things, you need certain tools. Grab your coffee and follow me to the studio so I can show you some of the ones I use.

  • I was looking for Valentine's Day projects for my grandkids, and realized, I had everything we needed right here in my studio! A couple mason jars, candles, toilet paper rolls, paint brushes, and Mayco Softees Acrylic paints.

    I've come to absolutely love the Mayco Softees line! The are one of the best acrylics I've ever used, and trust me, I've used a few. They glide off your brush, smooth and clean, leaving behind rewarding results.

    Are you still trying to figure out what to help the kids make for Valentine's Day? Well, it's only 4 days away, so we better get to it! Grab your coffee and follow me out to the studio for some quick and easy projects.

  • If you've been following our blog, or if you happened to tune in last week, you may have read our post on making slip from your clay body. The question of the day is, what to do with the slip you made?

    Hmmm... I have a few ideas! I also have a few orders to fill that I can try those ideas out on. How about you, anything special come to mind?

    Well, grab your coffee, put on your creative cap, and let's head to the studio. I'm sure we can come up with some great ideas if we put our heads together! Ps... send us pictures of your designs when you're done, we'd love to see them!

  • How awesome is it to decorate for Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter etc... with handmade vases and planters? There are some really neat ideas out there, or you can do what I did, and design your own.

    In today's post, I'm going to show you how to make a heart shaped vase, and how to modify it to make a planter! Hmmm... we may just have to re-visit this post, closer to St. Patrick's Day, and make it a shamrock.

    This is going to be a fun, easy project. One you can share with your students, kids, and friends. Or, keep the instructions to yourself, and impress the heck out of them with the finished piece! It's up to you, but either way you plan on doing it, you might just impress yourself as well.

    So, are you done reading the newspaper, and did you have your coffee? If not, put the paper aside, grab a coffee, and let's head to the studio. The news will still be there when we're done!

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