Pottery Ingrained With Leaves
Pamela Kohler-Camp infuses her love of nature and art by collecting leaves and ingraining them into her pottery creations.
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Thanks to Pamela Kohler-Camp from Lilburn, Georgia for this project.
Materials and Tools:
heavy-duty aluminum pie plate
7 pounds of stoneware range clay
canvas to cover work space
non-stick cooking spray
3 fresh small pretty leaves
stoneware glaze that fires to cone 5-6 or 2190 F degrees
dark brown underglaze
small paint brush
white cosmetic sponge wedge
needle tool or large darning needle
1. Lay out your canvas on a level surface and smooth the canvas evenly. Slice a slab of clay from your bag of clay about 3 inches thick, evenly across the top of your clay. Lightly slap the clay across the canvas, allowing the clay to smooth out and elongate. Continue slapping it down in both directions until the clay has the look of a pie pastry ready to be rolled out.
2. Using a rolling pin, roll out the mass of clay in a rough circle, turning the clay as you would a pie pastry, until the entire thickness is no less than 1/4 inch.
3. Dip your fingers in water and, using your fingertips, smooth the clay, feeling for bubbles which can cause your pie plate to explode in the first firing. Carefully loosen the edges and pull the sheet of clay off the canvas, being careful not to tear it. Flip the sheet of clay and repeat the same smoothing process on the other side, checking for further bubbles. If found, prick with a needle and smooth the bubble flat. Loosen the edges and gently lift the clay sheet off the canvas to prepare it for inserting in the pan.
4. Spray your heavy-duty metal pie plate with non-stick cooking spray to allow the clay to release easily from the pan once it is stiff.
5. Lift your sheet of clay off the canvas and ease the pie plate under the clay. Gently fit and start to smooth the center into place with water-damp fingertips.
6. After achieving a good fit into the pie plate, start cutting around the outside edge (figure A). First cut at least 2 inches out, and then as the weight from the edge is removed, cut closer to the lip to get an excellent fit. Crimp the edges if desired.
7. Roll the larger scraps of clay into a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Lift up clay slab and separate from the canvas. Lay the three fresh leaves onto the clay. Using your fingertips, gently press the leaves into the clay.
8. Cut about 1/8 inch larger around the outside edge of the leaves to leave room for attaching that clay to the pie plate. Place the leaves on the edge of your clay pie plate, arranging them decoratively (figure B).
9. Using your pin tool or a darning needle, trace the outline of the clay surrounding your leaves (figure C). Lift the leaves and score the area that is to be attached with the same pin tool to create a rough surface on the body of the pie plate only.
10. Using a small amount of water, mix up the rough area of the clay and create a tacky, almost muddy surface. Reapply the leaves to clay of pie plate, being careful to smooth from the center of each leaf and avoid air pockets. Smooth the edges so that the leaves look as though they were growing out of the clay.
11. Allow the piece to dry in the pan until bone dry or totally inflexible when removed from pan (figure D). Now is the time that you can flip the pie plate over and inscribe your name or any other thoughtful message like, "We wish you many happy years in your marriage."
12. Using a damp cosmetic sponge, smooth all edges until they feel good to the touch.
13. When the piece is bone dry, fire in kiln to witness cone 04, or 1945 degrees farenheit.
14. On the now bisque piece, using the brush, apply a layer of liquid wax to the bottom of the pie plate, extending the line of wax up about 1/4 inch to keep the glaze from sticking in this area, and allow the wax to dry (about 20 minutes) until it is no longer tacky.
15. Apply a wash of brown underglaze to the leaves (figure E) and, using a damp sponge, remove most of the underglaze, leaving some in the veins and cracks.
Then paint the leaves only with a layer of liquid wax (figure F). Be careful to not spill any wax where you don't want it, because the clay is so porous that it may not be removed except by another firing.
16. After the wax is totally dry and not tacky to the touch, dip the whole piece into a bucket of mid- to high-fire glaze the color you like (figure G). Use a damp sponge to remove any drops of glaze that may have beaded up on the waxed areas.
17. Fire your pie plate in a kiln to witness cone 5 or whatever temperature that your glaze calls for to allow it to "fit" your clay body and allow the clay to vitrify and make a tight seal.
18. Remove from kiln. Test with your favorite pie recipe and save a piece for me!
Ryan McKerley shares his wax-resist carving process on this pottery bowl.