Sunday, 13 April 2014


I've started making 3 or 4 smaller crescent type bonsai pots for someone recently.  Thought I share some pics of them as they are drying. 

 They will have to be bisque fired before they are oxided to a light brown colour and then fired again to 1260-1270 degrees celcius.

Normally when I make a pot for someone I dont just make 1, I always make at least 2, preferably 3.  The chances are that one will suit, and the other two can be used by someone else.

The overhanging piece on these crescents is quite hard to get right without it sagging or wanting to drop backwards. Especially when the clay is quite soft.

I cheat by helping it firm up with a $3 hairdryer from the second hand shop.  I wasnt too popular when I pinched the teenagers hairdryer and managed to get it covered in clay!

The white looking sandy stuff on the bats is a bit of coarse grog.  It just helps the feet from sticking to the bat, I also use it on some pots for texture.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Some New Shelves and Bonsai Pots

I was getting a bit sick of squishing up my pots together onto the two shelves in the husbands man cave.
Splashed out a whole $19.85 each at the Warehouse and got myself 2 sets of aluminium shelves.  The other two were screwed to the garage wall and the workbench so it was only a matter of screwing the two new shelves to them as well.   You just never know when an earthquake might strike and rattle these pots to a sad ending on the concrete floor.
Its much easier to see exactly what you've got, instead of lifting up/moving over and shuffling them around. 
It was all good for me, but the realisation that his garage space was being decreased a little more, made me feel a tiny bit guilty.
In an act of defiance or marking his territory, I noticed a mower in pieces plonked fairly and squarely in what was once his parking space.  Almost as if to say no more space for you....THIS IS MINE!   Oh well..... perhaps when he's at work I might just give his mower a tiny wee nudge further over, after all I need room to move about. 

The big plan was to make quite a few more pots so I could get rid of my old plastic containers that are floating around my bonsai area....yes, I was going to keep more for myself this year.  I made a few large ovals and round bonsai pots.  However it doesn't seem to be enough and I have plenty of gaps once again.  The beauty of it is that I can always make another.

I seem to be accumulating a few of the smaller pots.  Some are made to test out glaze experiments and others are to try out new shapes and textures.  I know I wont use them myself as our annual shortage of water makes keeping too many small potted bonsai a risky business.  However, they are lots of fun to make.

These wee cascade pots I made turned out to be quite a revelation.   The glaze on them had lots of room to move down.  It gives them a bit of life and character instead of a plain block of lifeless single colour.

I seem to be having a bit of a run on the textured dark brown pots.  I've tried using a couple of different oxides and have found that some react quite differently when a glaze is put over the top.   Others look good with out anything, the texture speaks for itself.

The kiwi style pots seem to face a bit of opposition.  I can guarantee that if I'd put a Chinese or Japanese marking on them they would more popular.  Yes I know that bonsai originated from these countries and that tradition has alot to do with what people think is acceptable as far as pot styles etc go, but what is so wrong with trying to create your own style?  Are we all too scared of being told that "that's wrong you shouldn't be doing that"  Frankly, I don't enter in serious shows or conventions, its my garden, my trees, so whats wrong with using something that I like. 

Anyway, I'd better think about what I'm going to make tomorrow.  After all, if I don't fill up these new shelves I might go out one day and find them filled up with HIS tools - the battle over garage dominance continues!!

Sunday, 2 March 2014


The kiln was unloaded a few days ago, and a couple of pots caught my eye for different reasons.

I love glaze colours that run into each other and mix and mingle.  Single block glaze colours would be my worst nightmare.  But thats just personal preference....everyone's different.

The pot below has a glaze that I added iron spangles too.  Just for a bit of an experiment to see what would happen. Iron spangles although quite fine, tend to sink to the bottom of the glaze bucket, so if you want them in your glaze, be prepared to stir it alot.

You can almost see the iron spangles melting and flowing down the sides.  I scraped the sides of the glaze bucket and brushed some "extra" along the top rim.

Another pot that I really love is a "kiwi style" oval.  Yes, I know that plain and subdued is the way that many like their pots, but sometimes I like to do something a little different.  I've made a few smaller ones of this same style, so decided to sit down and concentrate for half an hour and carve out this pattern around the rim.

The Japanese and Chinese have beautifully painted and decorated pots showing their past history and culture.  Perhaps little old New Zealand should start tinkering with their own style too......just a thought.

If I want to make a decorated pot like this, I have to think ahead a little as my normal clay has a little more grog which tends to snag and tear if you try and carve out a design. It's a bit of a catch 22, as the finer the clay is, the higher the likelyhood of cracks appearing during firing, especially on large pieces.

Any way, back to the garage, I've got another oval half done.  Just waiting for it to firm up a little before tidying up the bottom and feet.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Bonsai Pot YouTube Videos

Just for the curious, I've done a couple of Youtube videos showing a few of the bonsai pots that have been made over the last month or two -  unloading the kiln, my workspace (um...actually my husbands man cave, but I've taken half of it over!)  

I apologise for the quality, as I just use a cheap wee camera, and haven't quite got the hang of the editing just yet. Hmm...perhaps I should just stick to making pots.

Here's the links


Thursday, 23 January 2014


Really pleased with the textured fissured effect on this one, it's one of my favourites.
This one started out with a brown wash on it, but with a layer of clear glaze over the top it fired to a very dark green colour in the crackled fissures, so it pays to experiment a little.

This was a surprise as well as the clay mixture (experiment) went quite buff with the clear glaze over it.  Once again the brown was in the cracks went a black colour in the final glaze firing

This was another experiment mixing different clays together at different percentages to see if I could change the fired colour.  With a clear glaze over it, it fired to a chocolate brown.  The pot also has a bit of a "chattered" texture to it, something else that I'm experimenting with at the moment.

Friday, 3 January 2014


The bottoms and feet have been put on the two larger ovals....quite time consuming and fiddly as I didnt want to disturb the "crackling" along the sides as I was joining the bottom on and compressing the join.  They turned out quite well, a little more silicate could have been used closer to the bottom, but other than that I'm pleased with them.

Once again they are drying slowly in layers of paper and black rubbish bags. Opened to take photos.

I found the most amazing piece of bark off a tree that came with some firewood back a few months ago.  I'd put it aside and decided to try making a slab pot with it.....attempt to anyway.

I've left it inverted, drying over a bag of rags, with any luck it wont crack as the clay depth varied as it was pushed into the bark.  It had to be done firmly, as the clay was reasonably firm as well..............................

Really quite chuffed with how it turned out.  The clay was quite groggy, but it picked up most of the barky texture though.  It'll be interesting to see how it looks after firing and an oxide wash put on it.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014



I've just spent the morning out in the garage making some different looking bonsai pots.  A great way to start the year.

Maybe a couple of years ago I tried this, but when it didnt work out too well I decided not to try again....not until this morning.

I love the cracked textured look the clay makes as its pushed out from the inside of pot on the wheel.

For those who havent tried this its quite easy with a little practice.

The first step is to make a pot with walls a little thicker than normal.  Make sure that the shape is quite curved inwards ( almost triangle shaped).  Compress and finish the top lip as it cant really be done afterwards.  Also tidy up the bottom as this cant be played with too much once the cracking has happened.  Make the pot tidy now.

You'll need some sodium silicate and a brush.  As the wheel is revolving, just brush on some silicate where you want there to be cracks.  Just a thin layer will do.

Go inside and pinch your sons hairdryer (or not?) and as the wheel is spinning hold the dryer up to the pot and dry the silicate off.  Usually only takes a minute or two.

Then with a couple of wet fingers, gently push the clay on the inside of the pot outwards.  Very gently and slowly, trying to keep the walls even.  All you can do at this stage is stop every now and then and check to see how much cracking has happened.

When you're happy with it, just stop and take the bat off the wheel and leave until leatherhard before attempting to trim the bottom and make feet.

I've made 2 large bottomless pots this way and have shaped them into ovals. The tricky part will be adding the bottoms on and making sure the join is good, without disturbing the cracking along the side part....will be interesting.

Here are some picture of the pots just off the wheel...

 I managed to muck up the top on this one, so it ended up with a rustic jagged one.  Just love the textured look (one of my favourites)

 The foot will need quite a bit of trimming up, hopefully it wont disturb the hard sodium silicate on the crackles

 I managed to pull up some clay from the soft inside on this one, made an extra smooth double rim.

 It kind of reminds me of the bark on an old pine tree splitting as each new yearly layer of bark makes it expand.

This was my first attempt this morning at a cascade pot.  It was really quite hard to get the shape even as I pushed it out from the inside.  Usually you use the hand on the outside of the pot to keep the thickness even, but being unable to touch the outside makes it a little more difficult....still quite happy with it though.

I'll take some photos of the large ovals being constructed at the next stage if I remember....never want to rush away and get a camera when my hands are covered in wet clay.

Saturday, 23 November 2013