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Sculpt a Textured Clay Watering Pitcher

James Wolberg creates a watering pitcher by joining two clay pots together.

Materials and Tools:

high-fire clay — preferably one with medium tooth for sculptural applications
metal or plastic sculpting tools: needle tool, knife, paddle, flexible ribs
sureform tool for wood
burnishing tool
high-fire blue and tan stoneware glazes
low-fire crackle texture glaze
spray gun for glazing
potter's wheel
respirator
electric kiln
bucket of water
sponges
paintbrush

1. On the wheel, throw two bottles of similar size with a body that is about 5" to 6" in diameter. The necks should be about 2 inches in diameter and 2" to 3" tall. Make sure to leave the walls thick enough (1/4" to 3/8") to allow for trimming and strength while distorting the form.

2. When the bottles are a little more than cheese hard, use a paddle to gently rough out the form.

3. Form a bridge for the water to pass between the two bottles by cutting a slit into one side of each bottle.

4. Make sure to slip and score thoroughly, reinforcing the joint with a coil on the inside and outside.

5. Join the neck of one to the upper body of the other with a cylinder of clay.

6. Continue building the form with slabs and coils, shaping the form gradually with a metal rib and your hands. With a slab of clay, form a cylindrical spout. Pull a handle for the piece and attach the spout and handle to the top of the piece.

7. When the watering pitcher is almost leather hard, refine the form, removing material with the sureform tool. Make sure the walls become thin enough so the piece is of a useable weight, but thick enough for stability.

8. Burnish the textured pitcher and let it dry thoroughly.

9. Apply raw glaze to the pitcher using a sprayer. Wear a respirator while using the sprayer. Spray the glazes on directionally, using the tan glaze to highlight "bellied" areas of the form. The glaze should be applied in light layers so as not to saturate the clay body with moisture.

10. Allow the watering pitcher to dry thoroughly. Fire the pitcher very slowly in the electric kiln to cone 9-10 for about 19 hours. The firing should be taken very slowly up to bisque temperature, about 1900 F, after which the firing may proceed at a normal pace.

11. After the pitcher has been fired to vitrification, apply the texture glaze with a brush. The glaze is applied according to the desired amount of crackling in a given area, ranging from normal glaze thickness to 1/8 inch.

12. The textured watering pitcher is fired once again at cone 06-05 and is then finished.

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