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Rhetoretician -- Fiction etc.



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Crescent & Star


girlyswot asked to see some samples of my pottery.


As I mentioned at the time, I like making objects that combine two different clays that have contrasting colors.

For example:

The pattern you see is not from the glaze, which is clear, but from the clay itself.

Here's the surface pattern in close-up:

I also made some demitasse cups rather quickly while I was experimenting with these clays:

You can see the layers of clay if you look at the edge of the cup.

Finally, here's the first piece I ever made (it's made of only one kind of clay):

It's a trivet, made of braided cords of clay.  Each segment of each cord was separately glazed so that I could give the illusion that the colors were continuous:

I have a lot of fun with pottery, but I've not done any for a few years now.  The fiction is absorbing all my creativity!

  • These are beautiful, Ken. I love the marbled effect of the different clays and I can see how that would be very addicting to work with. I especially love the large bowl which shows off the patterns. I hope your family use the cups and the trivet with a suitable degree of pride.

    Thanks for sharing.
    • Thanks, Ros. We use all the pieces. Janice makes Armenian coffee (a.k.a Turkish coffee, Greek coffee, etc.) at parties, and we use the demitasse cups then. Actually there's also a one-clay teapot I didn't include in the photos, which isn't bad to look at (I used a pretty glaze) but is not very functional.
  • These are fun, Ken. Do you build them? They don't look like they're thrown... Interesting contrast, I made some at Staples with two browns.
    • Hi, Berte. Yes, they're built. Really there's no way I could do a two-clay contrast like this with a wheel; it would wind up smoothing out the patterns -- especially as the color from the black clay spreads like anything and I was constantly having to scrape away the outer layer to maintain the marbling.

      I first roll out a later of the white clay. Then I roll out a 1/4" layer of the black and put it on top of the white. Then I roll them thin again. Then I cut it in half, put the two halves on top of each other, and roll again. I do this until I have 8 or 16 layers (like a puff pastry, but not as thorough). The last layer I leave at about 1/2" thick.

      Then I cut the clay into 2" squares. I put the squares into a mold (a bowl lined with celophane), but I put them in so that their edges are facing away from the mold. Then I press them into the mold, which distorts the pattern on the edges. There follows great deal of pressing and smoothing and pressing. After it's had a chance to solidify a bit, (a day or two), I scrape a tiny bit off the interior to expose the pattern, then turn the mold out and work on the exterior. Typically the exterior has holes in it, which I then fill with excess bits of clay from the previous steps, smooth and scrape again.

      In the case of the demitasse cups, I created the layers of clay and then gouged out shallow trenches and holes in it, exposing multiple layers. Then I rolled it out to flatten it, cut circles for the base, cut rectangles to bend into the walls and handles.
      • Have you ever seen how they make damascene steel? It's kind of like your technique. It's quite wonderful, isn't it, to have a hobby that makes stuff you can actually enjoy and use?

        Does your wife make coffee in one of those open, long-handled trapeziod pots? As much as I love espresso, it's something special with what to me is Arab coffee. Boiled seven times if you do it properly, and with cardamom pods. Mhmmm. Explosive stuff - it was the way I started drinking coffee.
        • I believe the pot you're referring to is called a "Jyveh." When Janice gave one to my mother as a gift, she thought it was for melting butter. :D The Armenian version doesn't use cardomom, but does use lots of sugar. Yeah, it's like rocket fuel. Janice reads people's futures in the coffee grounds.
  • Wow! Those are amazing! I really like the braided trivet. It's so intricate and different. You're so talented!
  • Double wow. You're turning into a Renaissance Man. Right before my eyes.

    Hope you had an easy day. I smilled when I saw the word hungry. More like thirsty for me.
    • I dunno about a "Renaissance Man," but my brain seems to be unusually undifferentiated, for want of a better word. My SAT verbal scores were exactly equal to my SAT math scores, and I find myself as attracted to mathematics as to visual art. It's very strange.
  • Wow, Ken. I'm very impressed.

    I love the marbling on the bowl and cups--and from what you described above it seems as if there's quite a process involved in making each piece. How long did it take you to complete the whole set?

    I really like the trivet, though. There's something about the braided pattern that's so pleasing--and the soft variations in color. Nicely done.

    • Thanks, Meredith.

      The cups I did earlier, while I was still experimenting with the clay, and their actual building took me only a few hours, then a few more when I smoothed them out and scraped off the outer layers to reveal the pattern. But then with pottery, you know, you have to wait interminably while it cures, then wait for there to be space in a kiln, then glaze it, then wait again for the kiln -- that whole process is often a month or longer.

      The bowl, which was the project I was really working on, took much longer. Several hours per day for several days, if memory serves. Then the waiting much like the cups.

      Thanks for noticing the color variations in the trivet. You can credit my friend Rena with the subtlety -- she talked me into it. I was originally going to make the color variations much bolder, but she said that a diluted glaze would leave some tranparency and show off the "grain" of the clay. And clearly she was right.
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