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Last fall I started experimenting with bas relief (low relief) design on pots and hand built forms. This style of carving and design seemed to me a natural progression/extension of the designed raku pieces I already do.

Unfired Designed platter

I had a number of pieces ready to glaze, but when we started having serious issues last fall with our raw materials that consequently, left our old standby glazes unusable, I put the pieces safely away until some of the technical issues were resolved. With all that work, I was reluctant to commit them to the fire.

With some long needed changes to the kiln this spring, and a fresh full bucket of celadon glaze, I finally felt brave enough to commit them to the fire.

Carving a relief design and knowing how the glaze will play with it, has its learning curve like everything else. I am anxious to see how this process evolves.

Relief Designed Platter with celadon glaze

Here is that same platter after it came out of the kiln last Friday. It was glazed with celadon then fired to Cone 10 (2400 F) in a gas kiln.:

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The only pictures of designed raku pottery I’ve had up on the blog have been finished ones. I thought it might be kinda cool to see what these pots look like in their raw state.

Here are a few I’ve been working on that are still very much in progress. One has an iris design and the other, bay magnolia. After studying a subject, whether it be a peacock feather or a particular flower, and making my sketches, I visualize the design layout then carefully carve it into the surface of the “leather hard” clay.
Green Webb Pot with Incised Iris design
Carving a design into clay is much different than drawing or painting it. The positioning of the tool initially can be tricky and carving, like anything else with pottery, takes practice. After you spend all that time and effort making that pot — throwing, trimming, and waiting for the clay to be just the right consistency– you have a lot invested and you don’t want to mess up. Once you lay your tool into the clay and make a cut, there is no going back or correcting it, so extra care needs to be taken.

Incised Bay Magnolia Design - raw clayAfter the carving is complete, the pot is left to dry usually for about a week or until it is “bone dry”. It is then bisque fired, glazed, then fired raku kiln. (Please see my post from July 18th for a description of the raku process).

I will try and post pictures of these pots again once they have been glazed and fired.

Anne Webb Pottery Stoneware Pitcher with Stylized Iris Brushwork Design
A big part of the appeal of pottery for me has always been the ongoing learning curve; no matter how “advanced” you get there is always some new avenue to explore, experiment, and discover.

I’ve been experimenting with brushwork for a while now, trying different styles, brushes, pigment, and subject matter. The brushes that I like best for the designs I’m doing are ones that Lowell has made from local bamboo and deer/dog tail hair. Each brush has its own personality and make for a nice spontaneous bold brush stroke.

Anne Webb Stoneware Pottery Pitcher with Stylized Iris Design, 2004Today as I was cleaning up my computer hard drive, I came upon some photos from over the last few years. I was intrigued at how much some pots and designs have changed or evolved in a relatively short period of time. A natural progression I suppose. I had been told that the more you do an image, the more it seems to take on a life of its own.

It never hurts to go back every so often and revisit and reflect upon your work from the past. It can be a good point of reference or even source of inspiration.

My name is Anne Webb and I'm a studio potter living and working just outside of Magnolia Springs, on Alabama's beautiful Gulf Coast. Please leave comments!
Drawing Day 2008
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