Big Ceramic Store Blog

Monthly Archives: October 2015

  • Hand-building is on the rise! There are thousands of awesome projects you can do with a nice slab of clay. It's not only great for the beginning potter, it's amazing how many professional potters use this method.

    I personally use slabs for roughly 50% of my work, and offering workshops and lessons, hand-building generates the majority of the studios revenue. With only one wheel, it's difficult to do throwing projects with a group, so slabs have become my biggest friend!

    In our post on Wednesday, we talked about preparing clay for the slab roller. Today, we are going to go over some tips on using a slab roller. From rolling out the "perfect" slab, to adding texture, we'll touch on a little of both.

  • For a few years, I used a rolling pin, thick dowel rod, cardboard tubes... anything I could find that would roll a nice slab of clay. Trying to get the "perfect" slab, was really frustrating, until I purchased a slab roller.

    What a difference that made! I no longer had to pound clay, lay out sticks as guides, or even work up a sweat. It took a little pre-planning, building and setting up a "rolling" table, and a system for cutting the clay, but it was well worth it!

    In this post, I will show you some tricks I use for cutting, stretching, and rolling, to get consistent results from each bag of clay. Laguna WC-392, buff sculpting clay, is great for sculpting, tiles, and hand building.

  • Most ceramists don't think they are artists, they believe they just have a skill, that allows them to create beautiful pots. Let me just start by saying, "BULL! If you have the talent to create beautiful pots, you have talent to create amazing art!"

    You see, not just anyone can turn a lump of clay into a beautiful piece of pottery. It takes imagination, creativity, vision, ability to combine colors and textures. There are so many things that go into a pot that define you as an "artist."

    Webster defines Artist as;

    • a person who creates art : a person who is skilled at drawing, painting, etc.
    • a skilled performer
    • a person who is very good at something

  • Fall is such a BEAUTIFUL time of year in Northeast Pennsylvania! I absolutely love walking in the woods, looking at the amazing colors, feeling the sun and the breeze on my face, and smelling all the scents that fall brings.

    I always take a plastic shopping bag along on these walks though, so I can "shop" for texture and design. You just never know what is going to inspire you, and what kind of goodies you will find.

    I took a walk in our woods yesterday, and here are some of the treasures I found!

    • Roberto Baggio |

      Wow because this is extremely greatexcellent job! Congrats and keep it up

  • In our last post, we talked about some commercial glaze colors/techniques that work well for me. In this post, we are going to discuss some that haven't always worked so well.

    First off, let me say... It is critical that you test your glazes and clays together! Recently, I was preparing for a large show, and used a glaze I hadn't tried before. I was in a hurry, and didn't test the glaze with my clay before smothering a few pieces in it.

    Not only was it s a huge mistake, it was a very disappointing outcome. The lanterns I had expected to be beautiful, well... Keep reading for some pictures and combinations that I won't use again!

  • Several of our readers have asked us to go over glaze colors and layering. This post is primarily about some of the glazes I use, and how I use them.

    Glazing has always been my least favorite part of pottery! You have an amazing idea in your head, plan it out, brush, dip and layer the glazes just perfectly on the piece in front of you... Everything is going to be exactly as planned right? Well, not always...

    Below are some of the glaze methods that have worked for me. I will go over some that haven't worked so well in a future post.

  • Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house... The tree is lit, stockings are hung, the decorations look great, the kids are ready to be tucked in, and excitement is in the air!

    All of a sudden, Timmy says, "Mom, we forgot to put cookies out for Santa!" So, you grab a plate from the cupboard and start putting cookies on it. Timmy tugs on your sleeve and asks, "Can we please use one of our good plates, cuz Santa is really special, and I want the plate to be special too."

    Lucky for you, you've seen this post and made the project. Timmy is going to be so excited  to see just how special that plate is!

    Not only is this plate super easy to make, it's adorable! Remember though, spice it up with your own ideas. The plates in this post were made to fit the "Primitive" look. You can use bright colors, and rosy red cheeks if you want!

  • Have you ever made a really special piece, but when you pull it out of the kiln, it's warped, cracked or has glaze defects? You were so excited to see the finished product, but that excitement quickly turned into disappointment!

    What happened? Well, there are a lot of reasons it didn't go well, however; most often, it's the early drying stage that causes the end effects.

    In this post, we will go over some drying tips. I'm not big on "technical" explanations, I like simple, easy to understand information, so that's what you will get here.

    • grace | http://-

      i am currently using stoneware clay to make cups and ashtrays for friends and family i'm wondering if leaving my finished pieces to dry for a week or two before firing (i do not own a kiln so i have to wait until i have enough pieces to fire) will ruin the clay causing it to crack?
      thank you

    • miguel polsbroek | #

      how can i dray may porcelain for the first time

    • Gem | #

      I was wondering what you might do in the situation I've found myself in. I went to a local store that does self-glazing of premade, order in bisque pieces and just happened to convince the owner into letter me sculpt out of some clay she had sitting around the shop. I made a sculpture that is about 3 inches thick (some weird swamp monster thing, bear with me) from bottom to top along the length of his spine that decreases down the length of his body with is about 11 inches long. He has shingled scales that protrude like poeny petals getting quiet thin as spots and a solid rat like tail that is about an inch thick as it's widest before it decreases. there is also an apple of solid clay about 3 inches in diameter. It's been drying (first loosely covered with a plastic bag for about a week and a half then left to the mercy of the shop seeing as it was on a counter and everyone apparently kept visiting him at free will until the cover was left off completely. That was about a month ago and I was wondering, well two things i guess; first, what you think my odds of surviving the kiln would be and if you have any suggestions. I may be screwed, you may not even want to touch with email, but it's a risk I'm willing to take for Burt. (friend's son named him.)

      Thank you for you're time if you've taken it to consider my situation, which if you have I feel I should say sorry and good luck.

      Waiting with Burt and hoping to hear from you,

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