|As ceramic artists and potters, one of the most important things to remember is that it takes time to develop your skills and voice. I confess that, after more than twelve years at this, I am still working on that voice of mine (and I think I will always be trying to perfect those skills). That’s why I was comforted by today’s post from Jeffrey Nichols. In this excerpt from the September/October 2009 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, Jeffrey explains that his beautifully crafted, expertly decorated pottery was twenty years in the making. It is so important to expose ourselves to the myriad ways of working with clay and then put those experiences through our own filters to arrive at our own voices. And that, my friends, takes time. So be patient! And check out Jeffrey’s technique below. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.|
During a teapot demo, one of my students will inevitably ask about how
As clay artists and potters, we’re always striving to express ourselves
Here I demonstrate making a teapot in my own voice, and you
For more great throwing and altering techniques, check out Three Great Pottery Wheel Throwing Techniques: Tips on Throwing Complex Pottery Forms Using Basic Throwing Skills, which is free to Ceramic Arts Daily subscribers.
|Making the Teapot Body|
|Begin by throwing a simple boxy form
with 3/8-inch thick walls and a slightly smaller top than base. The
simple shape I make reminds me of a Shaker form. Make a fairly shallow
gallery in the rim for the lid. Using a heat gun or hair dryer, dry the
teapot body to a soft leather hard then cut it off the wheel. A heat
gun is an important tool for my process, but if you use one, remember
to handle it safely and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.Mark lines for the facets as shown at left.
|Using a Surform (rasp) tool, create the facets. I use a Surform
instead of a wire faceting tool or a fettling knife because it gives me
more control over thickness and the development of line because you can
remove small amounts with each stroke.
|Next, use a rounded rasp to bevel the bottom of the teapot.|
|This helps to visually lift the teapot off the table surface, as shown at left.|
|To create the handle, roll out a coil that’s slightly thicker in the middle and tapered on the ends.|
|Form it into a C or ear shape and place it on a plaster bat to dry to leather hard. Create facets by compressing the handle with a palette knife, then attach the handle to the teapot body when it is leather hard.|
|To form the spout, roll out a tapered coil that’s about 3/8-inch
at one end and 1-1/4 inches at the base. You may want to roll out
several spouts in the beginning to get the one that works best for your
teapot body. Form the tapered coil into an S shape and allow it to set
up to leather hard. Use a palette knife to form facets. Once the spout is shaped, cut it in half laterally, then draw a line
about 3/16-inch from the edge and scoop out the interior of the spout.
Re-attach the halves and set the spout aside to set up. Trace the spout
opening onto the teapot. Create a series of holes in the teapot body
where the spout will attach. Slip, score, and attach the spout when it
is leather hard. (Note: Watch my video on this process in the Ceramic Arts Daily video archives!)
This article appeared in the September/October 2009 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated
Experts like Jeffrey provide detailed techniques in every issue of PMI.
|Make the lid in three stages. First, throw the knob on the wheel.|
|With a heat gun, dry the knob to leather hard and cut it off the
wheel. Use a palette knife to make the spiral facets. Throw the lid
right side up and attach the knob on the wheel as shown at left.
|Use a 3/16-inch hole cutter to create the steam hole in the top of the lid.|
|Developing the Surface
After years of honing my skills, I finally realized that traditional
Inspired by the concept of
After the underglazes have dried, I begin sanding through the
Safety with Spray Guns
Nichols uses a respirator and a hooded exhaust vent to manage the
|It is important to apply this surface only to the outside of vessels
or in areas that do not come in contact with food or drink. When fired,
the Velvets and other underglazes have the durability of a matt glaze,
but are not food safe. I then apply a food-safe liner glaze to the
parts that will come in contact with food and fire the vessel again.
After this firing, I coat the underglaze surface with a food-safe oil
sealant (like Salad Bowl Finish, available from home centers) and wax
used by woodworkers. This seals the outside surface and makes it fairly
durable, but check the instructions on the containers for care and use
of these products.
|Jeffrey Nichols is a studio artist and educator working and
living in Kentucky. He exhibits his studio pottery nationally and
internationally, and you can view more of his work at www.jeffreynichols.us.