Friday, August 8, 2014

Making an Oval Bonsai Pot

After the "kiln gods" had a bad day, I was left with 2 cracked pots from the last firing.

Its the larger pots that cause the problems.  Judging by the sharp edge of the crack I would say that its occurring as the kiln is cooling down as the glaze hadn't melted over it.  Being unable to control the rate and temperature of the cool down doesn't help in the least.  Once again its in the hands of those "kiln gods".   Perhaps one day we'll get a new kiln with fancy electronic controllers etc and be able to eliminate most of the firing problems that occur.

Anyway, back to the replacement pots.

As usual, I forgot to take photos of the first stage of throwing the outer pot.
This is the pot after the sides have been shaped into an oval and the bottom joined on.  Its quite hard to get a perfect shaped oval as the clay still has to be pliable/soft enough to move into shape, and firm enough to pick up without distorting the shape.  Leather hard is sometimes too hard, so its ideal to do this just a bit before this stage.
 The pot is then filled with rags until its level with the top rim.  This is to support the pot bottom when its turned over.  If there wasn't support of some sort, the bottom would sag.  Some potters use columns of clay placed around the inside of the pot, but I find this easier and less messy.
 
 An oval board (wood for mothers day) is placed over the top of this.  Checking to make sure that it sits on the edge evenly.  Sometimes the odd rag will get caught  and it leaves unwanted marks around the edge. 
Now comes the tricky part........ flipping it over.

It's easy with two people doing it, one on each end.  But with hubby being at work and the kids at school I do it on my own. Hence the need for light boards.  It's easy enough to handle the weight of the clay and boards together, its just ackward!
I'd already cut out some feet .  The oval boards are really handy for getting the shape approximately correct.  They are trimmed up to the correct size before being put on the bottom.  Once again there is a bit of guess work as each pot is a different size and shape.
  The feet have been trimmed up to the correct size.  I find it easier to add a smaller length in the middle area of an oval pot, it just gives it a little more support during firing.

The feet are all smoothed off.  My name etc is added.

Small pieces of leftover clay from the foot making are cut and placed evenly around the bottom.  These help support the bottom of the pot when its flipped over again.  Its stops sagging as its drying.  Two or three of these are also placed under the pot during the bisque and glaze firing as well. 

It's flipped over to the right side again.  Covered in newspaper and plastic and left to dry slowly.  Drying slowly isnt an issue at the moment though, it's winter.

 Off topic in a big way.......this is what we woke up to this morning.
Yesterday afternoon I was "mucking about" getting a few cuttings etc, once again I hadn't tidied up, thinking perhaps I'd have another go today.  Hmmm....not likely!