Built some bird houses, made some molds.


I’ve been asked about my pottery work…”so, what have you been up to now that you have some time to yourself?” My usual answer was, “I’ve been taking some time off to hang out with my boys for the summer”…more for the sake of not having to go through a myriad of excuses for the lack of ceramic work that I have not produced. Well, finally I have something to talk about.

I’ve been taking pottery class in San Mateo, hooked up my wheel in the garage and started throwing some forms and registered for a mold making workshop in San Jose!

Adventures in Plaster Mold Making!

Presented by OVCAG (Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild), I participated a hands-on mold making workshop with Jamie Meador, hosted by Jeannine Meidinger in her beautiful home in in the hills of San Jose. Jamie started with a demonstration followed by a detailed, independent hands-on work session where we were expected to make molds, compute water to plaster ratio using calculators to find the volume, pour plaster into forms, textures and bowls. In the photo above, the fruits of my labor–except for the small round bowl and square bowl forms that I purchased. I did have a failure of the bigger bowl…the bottom fell out…too thin. The stamps in the lower left hand side is showing brown…that’s because I haven’t cleaned the clay off of the plaster yet. Once I give it a good sponge rub, it will be nice and white like the others. Great experience…can’t wait to make more molds!

It’s for the Birds!

As I mentioned, I have started working at the San Mateo Park District Clay Studio. With the end of the summer session, I will be participating in a sandy beach pit firing. Our instructor recommended a closed form for best success and so I decided to make bird houses. As part of the process, the pots are made and before going into the bisque firing, we burnished the surface once at the leather hard stage and also at bone dry stage. The two on the right have been burnished twice while the one on the left is still unpolished…can you tell the difference? You can see a slight reflection on the surface. It feels like marble!

So what happens now?

These will be cooked once in the kiln to cone 04, to bisque. We will be going to a beach, digging a pit, placing the pots inside with firewood and sawdust, lighting it on fire. Once the bonfire has burned itself out and pots cooled enough to handle, we will wipe it clean for the surprises that the fire and ash left us.   I will post after effects photos to show the results.

For more reading on Pit Fired Pottery and Potters, check out these potters…a very short list of many.
Robert Compton Pottery
Matt Hoogland
Alex Mandli

If you are interested in the bird houses, let me know…I will be offering the finished pieces on my Etsy shop at $40 each. After theses three pit fired pots, I will be making traditional kiln fired ones with underglaze or glaze colors. I will also take custom orders too: colors and sizes.