As potters, we have to think in multilevel ways. Not only are we striving to find unique decorative surfaces, but we are also thinking about creating the perfect three-dimensional form that can enhance that decoration. What that means for me is that I am constantly experimenting with new alterations in my construction process to create the best canvas for my underglaze paintings.
In this case, I was experimenting with my new hand extruder tools. I started to create appliques to attach to the outside of some of my forms, but it occurred to me to try and attach them to the inside of the pot. What I came up with were these elegant facets that created a dynamic rim but also literally pointed my eye down to my decorative surface.
Freshly thrown vase
Diamond Core Tools R2 Triangle Hand Held Clay Extruder
Diamond Core Tools Trimming Spinner with division hash marks around the rim.
Small piece of poster board
Small flat eraser (or similar shaped object)
Throw a vase with a slightly recessed, long neck (1). Place your vase in the center of the wheel head. Then, center a Diamond Core Tools Trimming Spinner across the rim of the vase. The purple hash marks around the perimeter demarcate the spinner into fifths as noted by the “¹⁄₅” circled in purple. Using the purple lines, divide the rim of the vase into fifths (2).
Next, create five triangular, tapered appliques. Using a Diamond Core Tools Triangle Extruder, cut 2-inch clay appliques from a solid block of clay so there are five in all (3). Now, measure the height of the neck of the vase—measuring from the rim to the shoulder (4).
Creating a Template
The next step is to create a triangular template used to taper the applique and mark the height of the facet cut. Fold a piece of poster board in half and measure along the fold so it is the same measurement as the vase neck (5). Measure the height of the applique and keep the length of the poster-board template short enough so that it does not touch the bottom edge. Connect the two points to form a triangle, and then cut out the template (6).
Fine Tuning and Attaching the Appliques
Elevate the appliques by setting each on a flat eraser, so they are easier to cut. Then, place the template over the applique. Using a cheese cutter, cut down and around the edges of the template (7). Repeat this process for each of the five appliques.
Score, apply slip, and attach each clay applique on the inside of the vase along each mark, making sure to attach each firmly and seal them completely to the inner surface (8).
On the outside of the vase, line up the center of the template to each ¹⁄₅ mark on the rim, then mark the bottom edge at the point. This denotes the bottom of each of the inner appliques (9).
Cutting the V-cut Facets
Let the vase dry to a leather-hard state. With the Triangle Extruder, center the V blade along the point created earlier. Cut into the clay very shallowly and pull the tool upward into the clay toward the rim, cutting a little deeper as you move upward. Stop halfway to the top of the rim and pull the tool out (10).
Center the tool along the top of the rim over one of the V shapes and begin to cut through the clay, so there is at least ¼ inch of clay on either side of the tool’s blade. As the tool moves downward, pull the tool in an outward direction until you meet up with the lower cut. Remove the excess clay (11). Use a wet paint brush along the inner facet to seal and smooth the clay.
Repeat this step for the remaining V-cut facets (12). Let the vase dry slowly. When it is bone dry, bisque fire it to cone 04. Then, glaze it and fire to temperature.
Ann Ruel owns and operates Little Street Pottery in Ocala, Florida, and is a frequent contributor to Pottery Making Illustrated. She offers video workshops at www.youtube.com/channel/UC_SKkRHSNpQbDaLoMaBTr5Q. You can also find her at https://annruelpottery.com and on Facebook at Little Street Pottery.