The Lucy Fagella Pottery Blog is where I share the how the pottery is made. Pottery process is a beautiful thing… watching a pot rise up from a lump of clay at the wheel, or seeing a work table filled with freshly thrown pieces. This blog focuses on process shots, pottery videos, the work table at the end of the day, and some finished work fresh from the kiln.
Making ceramic sugar jars, with a lid, in one piece, requires some practice… make that, lots of practice. You start by making a closed form that looks like the finished piece, but taller, with a groove for where the lid will sit in the pot. When the piece becomes leather hard, you cut into the form to separate the lid from the rest of the pot. Here are a few photos of what the form looks like at the end of both steps, and the finished sugar jar complete with a spoon.
The lids are cut from the form and trimmed to sit snug in the lid gallery. I will let them dry slowly under plastic for a few days, then soften any high sharper spots before they go into the bisque kiln. The glazes will be semi-transparent and will pool into the grooves that I have created. I will use a few different color glazes for these sugar jars, some springtime colors… pale greens and blues, along with some golden amber which reminds me of honey… I guess these would make good honey jars too! Much of my work is standard ware, (meaning they all have similar features and size, making them easily repeatable for online ordering and wholesale accounts). I wanted this batch of sugar jars to be one of a kind for the up-coming shows. I have two shows coming right up in April and May, the Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail, and the Worcester Pottery Invitational!
Here is a customer favorite, a red dot sugar jar and spoon, working in my kitchen on a hot summer day.
Making oval pitchers (or any oval form) is one of the easier projects on the potters wheel. Basically every beginner student has mistakenly gone through the bottom of a pot. When you make an oval form on the potters wheel you just go through the bottom on purpose! Well, there is a little more to it than that, so here are two very quick videos to see how it is done. The first video is only 20 seconds, showing how I make a spout for the oval pitcher. The second video is a little over a minute showing how to join the oval to a cutout slab of clay for the bottom. You can see how I join a handle to this pitcher in an earlier post here.
If you would like to see all of my videos in one place visit my Youtube Channel here, where you can subscribe to keep up with the latest videos!
The finished pitcher fresh from the kiln.
I am making salt boxes! It’s been a couple of years since the last time I made them. I had so much fun meeting the challenge the last go around that I have wanted to make more since. When I say challenge, I do mean challenge. Pictured below are a couple of leftovers from the last time I made them, with some newer ones in back of them. They are all mistakes in one way or another. The first ones I made a couple of years ago have some cracking on the back, and warping with the lids (as they are made in porcelain). The new ones are also made in porcelain, but the lids this time will be made from up-cycled mahogany wood from our old Greenfield high school bleachers.
I have been making table salt cellars for quite a few years now, they are a main stay in my foodie ceramics line. A couple of years ago became intrigued with the wall salt boxes after seeing a vintage french salt box at an antique shop in Provincetown Massachusetts. The salt box I saw was made of metal (enamel). After seeing that I just starting looking at as many salt boxes as I could online. Only a few were made in ceramic, and now I know why… the degree of difficulty with all the variables that can happen in the drying process and in the kiln can be overwhelming. Still for some reason I want to do these. I love challenges in my pottery making… I love making form and function truly work together. I also like salt… all the different kinds of salt like Himalayan pink salt, black Hawaiian salt, and flavored salts such as mushroom infused (the best ever). I once had a customer purchase six different color salt cellars for all the different flavors of salt they used!
The deeper meanings of salt have always intrigued me too. As a child learning biblical stories, such as Matthew 5:13-16, the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and learning about Gandhi, and the Salt March… the power of peaceful non-violent protest.
Salt is an intrinsic part of our lives, not only for flavoring food, but salt for healing, and salt for preservation of food. You can see my collection of all things salt on my Pinterest board, “Salt of the Earth”.
I will continue to work on these salt boxes for the next couple of months, they should be done for the Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail in April. More pictures to come when they are completed!
Salt Cellars are on the work table again!
Here are some process shots of freshly thrown tops and bottoms to salt cellars… and step two… all trimmed and drying. These are best sellers for me, so they are in my cycle of throwing quite often. You can purchase these little cuties here.
Wall Salt boxes with hinged lids are next!
Some new spoons are in the making! Love making these… this go around they have a good sized hole at the top. I have some plans for them and how they will hang on a hook. Also just having a bit of fun playing with light and shadow on the beautiful white porcelain, and the white canvas work table.
Pulling handles for mugs. Here are 10 practical things to consider, (not in any particular order). These are questions I ask my students when I am working with them in class. I thought it would be good to have them written down in one place, as I am sure there are some student potters out there that may find this helpful!
1. Comfort/Fit: Does it feel good in your hands? Why is it that we reach for that certain mug each morning? It’s more than the look, it’s the comfortableness of it. Does the handle fit your hand? (This is quite subjective as every ones hands are different sizes.) Is it a one finger, two finger, three finger or four finger handle.
2. Visual Intent: Don’t be wishy washy! If you intend to make the handle look like it is stuck on the form then be clear about that. If you intend to make it flow from the form, smooth out the transition between mug, and handle… to allow for a more fluid motion from the form.
3. Who is your intended user: Not all people want the same size mug or handle that fits the makers hand. Think about number 1, comfort/fit while you are pulling and attaching the handle.
4. Relationship of the size of the handle to the form: Is it too small or too large for the form? Is it too low, or too high on the form?
5. Balance: Does the mug feel balanced when it is lifted, or does it tip to the opposite side because the handle is too small, or to thin, or to high on the mug?
6. Negative space: What does the space between the handle look like? Is it too wide, too narrow, too short?
7. Shrink rate: How much does the clay body shrink? Always take this into consideration when making a handle, make it a tiny bit bigger than you intend the finished piece to be, but don’t overcompensate. Go back to number 6 if you think you are going too large… really look at that negative space, it will tell you if there is too much of it.
8. Attachment to the mug: Does the handle look too thin/weak where it attaches to the body of the pot? Or is it too clunky where it is attached? Are there dents on the handle from finger marks at the attachment?
9. Consistency: Is the handle consistent throughout the whole handle, or are there thinner undulations in parts of the handle? Look at it closely, the handle should flow, without any wavy, thin, thick variations from top to bottom.
10. Craftsmanship: Is the handle well crafted… are the attachments solid, or are there slight gaps at the attachment? Have you cleaned it up properly, making sure there are no rough areas of the clay that would make it sharp or uncomfortable to hold?
I have given you 10 things to consider when making a mug, but it is so hard to tell if you have a good end product at this stage of attaching handles. You really don’t know how the mug looks, or if it is comfortable until after it is fired and used… only then you can truly tell if you have done a good job, both functionally, and aesthetically. Basically, what I am saying is this: Make more… over, and over again.
Here are some views from the work table of freshly pulled handles.
Making a pulled handle on a pitcher or a mug is a challenge, sometimes I don’t think the consumer/user of a mug or pitcher understands what goes into the making of a handle. So here is a little video to get just a quick one minute glimpse of pulling a handle for a pitcher. If you want to see more of my teaching videos subscribe on my Youtube channel Here.
Covered Cheese Dish… Butter Dish, Cupcake Surprise Dish… name it what you will. I think it works best for serving an array of cheese for the holidays and other special occasions. My farmer friend Carolyn of Hillman Farm who makes goat cheese keeps it out on her table all the time to have room temperature cheese. She says it’s a goat cheese lover, foodie thing to do. This covered dish can be found this weekend at my Open Studio/Holiday Sale!
I have been making pots for months now to for this coming weekend. I really look forward to this Open Studio/Sale each year. The studio is transformed into a beautiful shop for the weekend… beginning this Friday afternoon at 4:00 till 8:00. Saturday and Sunday I am open at 10:00 and will end both days at 5:00. Please stop by for a visit, have some hot cider and homemade cookies. There will be plenty of great holiday gifts, from inexpensive bargains at the discontinued/seconds table to brand new work coming out of the kilns this week!
Mugs… seems a potter can never make enough of them.
I thought I’d share my thoughts about mugs, and give you a sampling of some of the mugs that will be available at my Holiday Open Studio Sale this December 11-12-13.
Mugs are one of those items that we all become very familiar with. We hold them lovely each morning in our hands as we drink our coffee or tea. We place them to our lips, and we feel some comfort from this daily routine. I don’t know about you but I need a certain mug for different beverages. I’m not a coffee drinker but I do love my tea, many different kinds! I have my mugs for my favorite Chai, for my Earl Grey, my Lady Grey, and my herbal teas. Some teas require the four finger hold of a large mug, and some just one or two fingers in the handle… why is this I wonder. Why is it that we reach for a certain mug, a favorite mug? Is it the look, the feel, the size of the handle, a memory. Is it the shape… maybe wider, to cool your tea off quicker, or taller, with a narrow top to keep the tea warmer? As a maker I try to accommodate these preferences… because I want happy customers, and because like working with certain limitations. The form of a one finger mug is going to be quite different from a four finger mug. It keeps it all interesting and fresh for me.
So come by the studio and pick out a new favorite mug, and if you are too far away check the shop page. Not all the mugs are there, as I am saving some for the Holiday Sale, but just contact me and I’ll see what I can do!
Making an apple baker on the potters wheel… just another little one minute, “Quick Pottery” video.
I live in an area that has some of the most wonderful apple orchards, and it was a very good year for apples! In addition to the top quality apples from the farms, we have an old Cortland apple tree on our land which over flowed with apples. I think Cortlands make the best baked apples, they have been a regular as dessert at our table this past month.
Here is a glimpse of the apple bakers in process… love the look of them freshly thrown all lined up. These will be available at my Holiday Open Studio Sale! December 11-12-13!