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.
Glaze Dip, a “Quick Pottery” video.
This is one of my “Quick Pottery” videos to demonstrate how wax resist is used to create a pattern when brushed over a base glaze then dipped in a second glaze. The first glaze that I use is a nice medium blue matt glaze. I then paint on a wax resist pattern of leaves and vines, I let the wax resist dry, and dip it into a dark blue glaze. Take a look at the video on my You tube channel!
The urn that is pictured in the video was sold shortly after it came out of the kiln. Last week I did make a couple more like it, and just glazed them up today. See the photo below. They will go in the firing next week… just hoping they come out as good as the first one! If all comes out as planned look for them on my shop page at LucyFagella.com
It’s a long story I will make short… my website was hacked. There was some confusion when I changed my domain hosting service, so I lost my domain name last night. Within hours someone from England purchased it. If you go to my LuciaPottery domain name you are redirected to a Russian porn site. I was able to contact the new owner of my domain name and asked if I could please buy it back. He emailed me back and said yes for $6700. I said no thank you. This is just so sad, there are so many evil, money hungry people in this world that think nothing of a persons livelihood.
My new website name is www.lucyfagella.com. Lucky for me I owned my own name! I wanted to get lucyfagellapottery.com but it was owned by someone else. I could have purchased it if I wanted to for a very high price.
My apologies for anyone who has my business card or any old links with my old website name.
They get me every year, those spring colors.
The pale greens, and and the translucency of a brand new baby leaf just opened. Then there is the blue sky as the backdrop to these new leaves. Ah, spring colors, accentuated after the monochrome browns of winter.
This spring I am happy to introduce my new line of color. All of the new work will be available this coming weekend April 30th and May 1st on the Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail, and May 13-15 at the Worcester Pottery Invitational.
The Pottery Trail is almost here! If you are anywhere near Massachusetts you really should come to this great event.
The Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail is a self guided tour of 9 potter’s studios in western Massachusetts. Check our website apotterytrail.com for all the details and a downloadable map.
This event is both educational, and fun for all involved. Our many studio stops along the trail include, music, food, pottery for purchase, and demonstrations. You can try your hand at the wheel at my studio!
Aside from meeting all 9 potters, their 13 guest potters, and seeing their beautiful functional pottery, you will also have a lovely driving tour through quaint New England towns, fields, hills and farms. Please check our website for scrumptious food at the many sponsor restaurants along the way! You can even stay the weekend at one of our sponsor B&Bs!
Here are a few photos of some colorful pots for Spring!
This year I am very excited to have Robbie Lobell from Washington State, as my guest potter. Robbie owns Cook on Clay. As quoted from Robbie’s website, “Cook on Clay flameware cooking pots are made with ”flameproof” clay designed to withstand extreme temperatures. Our pots can go directly from the refrigerator to a hot oven and back again without cracking! They are perfect for the grill, and some of our pots are designed specifically for use on the stovetop. All of our pots are built for durability and performance and intended for everyday use.”
I just have to tell you why the Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail is my favorite event of the year. This event for me is kinda like waiting for Christmas as a child. I get really excited about this tour for so many reasons… the top two reasons are education, and community building. This group of professional potters have come together now for 12 years. We begin our preparations for the pottery trail six months before the actual date, getting our brochure and website ready. We pool our resources and talents together to make it all happen. We build a strong pottery community around this tour as we work together to create an exciting event! We are all so happy to open up our studios to you, and share what we have been creating for you for the past few months!
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.