Tag Archives: stoneware pottery

Stoneware Pottery is fired to a state likened to stone. It is dense, can contain liquid, and if fired with appropriate glazes, it is suitable for functional use. For this reason, stoneware is a popular clay used in the production of dinnerware, mugs, casseroles and the like.

Mocha Diffusion Mugs

Mocha Diffusion–Magic Landscape Pottery

Mocha Diffusion is a very special technique: a process that is almost magical to watch because of the very rapid way that landscapes are formed in front of your eyes.

Whenever visitors come to the studio here at JoVic Pottery, and we have the time to engage with them and show them a few things, a mocha demonstration is often at the top of the list.

Achieving success with the process on pottery often proves very difficult. Everything has to be just right for things to work. The pots need to be almost bone dry. At that stage they will rapidly absorb the slip applied. This slip is quite alkaline. The introduction of an acid can be shown by the addition of colorants to a tea made with boiled pipe tobacco.

Drying Mocha Greenware 1
Mocha Landscape Mugs Drying

If the pots are too dry, the slip just forms ugly blotches and runs. If the pots are too wet, the slip stay wet too long and the “trees” grow well beyond our desired needs right over the edges of the rims. It’s a Goldilocks process, so if the pots are just right, we can quickly make landscape strokes and add a little extra tea in those spots where we’d like a tree to “grow.” We really have a very short window in which to do this decoration and pure concentration is required, as well as a planned approach.

Mugs and Tumblers with Mocha Landscapes Ready to Fire
Mugs and Tumblers with Mocha Landscapes Ready to Fire

But for our visitors, we have a delightful solution consisting of a piece of plastic that we dip into the slip bucket. The slip stays wet, of course, but almost always works to demonstrate the technique. We watch the trees grow and continue this growth demonstrating not only the wonder of dendrite at work, but also explaining how continued moisture is undesirable on our actual work.

White background mocha mugs
Finished Mocha Mugs with White Slip Background

Vic Duffhues has been using this technique for many decades. Yet even with all that experience, he’s not always guaranteed the results he’d like. Now he chooses to exercise this form of decoration only in the early spring, when drying conditions are most easily controlled. The result is that we never have enough mocha pieces and there is always a demand by collectors.

They truly are gorgeous mugs and tumblers and we joke that these are the fastest growing trees in British Columbia.

Glaze Chemistry and Testing to Create New Art

One of the things we love about being artists as well as artisans and also potters (and yes, the distinction is deliberate) is the fact that we are able to continue to experiment with a vision to always improving all our work. Our studio is not limited to work that creates art for art’s sake. We also create functional stoneware, and by its nature, this means a certain amount of production, in other words, repetition. Without the added joy of striving to make this work fresh by developing new glazes and styles, we’d soon reach a level of boredom and mediocrity that would make our work become a form of drudgery.

Years of experience and practice naturally also changes the work. Our own growth, starting in 1979, stems from the knowledge gleaned from many years of such practice and experience. However, our work is also a reflection of our interests, and is additionally influenced by the nature around us here on beautiful Vancouver Island. Testing glazes, developing new approaches, searching for ways to bring our vision to life helps us to bring a reality to our vision.

Former Glaze Tests
Old Test Tiles Find a Spot in the Garden, and yes, it’s time for a Spring Cleanup.

Vic has become more and more keenly interested in pushing limits when it comes to glazing, and these days he loves spraying layer after layer of glaze on some of his pots. Unlike other potters who traditionally limit techniques that might use ash or crawl glazes to decorative pottery, Vic enjoys seeking ways to incorporate these techniques into production and functional ware. His goal is to make each piece, whether it be a mug, a goblet, a bowl, an urn, a teapot, or those incredibly unique one-of-a-kind decorative items into art. Functional stoneware pottery is the bread and butter income for our studio, while the decorative work is the dessert. But since every single piece created is made by hand, it needs to fulfill us at a creative level too.

Glaze Test Tubes
Glaze tests on tubes allow us to gauge texture, flux, color, etc.

I found myself thinking about the development of our glaze technology over the years. Initially my own experiments involved learning about each of the ingredients by firing them separately onto small bowls. This let me see what worked as a flux and what worked to stiffen and so on. The next step involved combining these elements to understand what happened in synergy. My original glaze tests were all done by trial and error. I learned heaps, but the results weren’t often exciting or of use. Even the glaze chemistry courses didn’t add much to my working results. In time we learned about glaze unity and began to understand much more about the interaction between elements at different temperatures and using varying approaches to bringing our kilns to our desired temperature, or holding the work to soak at a specific temperature, or cooling the work in specific cycles. Of course many of those things weren’t really possible either before the onset of computer controlled kilns which we can set up to suit ourselves.

Picasso, one of the most prolific artists of all time, started out by following the rules before intentionally breaking them and developing his unique style. Likewise, authors like James Joyce, intentionally breaking all the norms of English, stands out for us as a literary giant. Sometimes people who read such works are confused, as are those people who just don’t get cubism, or abstract art. I would say that the artist who not only understands and can follow the rules of art is also the artist who can choose to break those rules. Isn’t that actually the mark of true art–a way to move forward and find a new expression for your work?

Cylindrical Glaze Tests
Our final glaze tests look at impact of layering glazes on a cylindrical form.

The joy of creating is fraught with failure–at least in terms of work that we can sell and earn from. But there is no failure at all when the work teaches us so much, and when it both teaches and delights us, it keeps us interested. We continue to strive for ways to break the rules and find new expression.

 

Dinnerware Order–A Reminiscence at JoVic Pottery

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Sgraffito Carved Platter
Platter with Sgraffito Carving

Over time we obviously develop. Our skills have improved over the last 3 decades, and we’ve continued to develop new and exciting glazes and decorating techniques. However, we have a customer who had purchased a full dinnerware set about 20 years ago–thankfully, it’s a set they and their extended family members continue to love.

Sgraffito Butter Dish
Butter Dish

Last year, this couple came to visit and discussed the possibility of giving their parents a similar set. We had to revisit techniques we rarely employ. But the idea of a son wanting to give his parents dinnerware for Christmas proved irresistible. They modernized by requesting hexagon rather than wheel-thrown plates for a set that included 8 dinner plates, 8 dessert plates, 8 soup bowls, a butter dish and a platter.

Sgraffito Carved Hexagon Plates
Hexagon Plate by Jo Duffhues

Vic’s now packing this set. We’ve been able to send pictures along the way sharing the progress with the son and his lovely wife. They live in India. Their parents are in Alberta.

Soup Bowls by Vic, Carvings by Jo
Caribbean Beach Soup Bowls

We were so happy with the final results, and we know that these lovely pieces will grace the table and bring the family a deep sense of joy and connection–even with the tremendous geographical distance. This stoneware dinnerware set will remind both families of many great celebrations, and this Christmas will be a special first shared sense of celebration using our wonderful JoVic Pottery.

 

Vic Duffhues, Potter from 1979 to Today.

This post is just a fun way to share some pictures I took of my favorite potter the other day. He’s gearing up for our annual studio tour. I’m so glad he continues to love working this way and he’s been making pots since 1979, and has certainly honed his skills at our amazing Ladysmith, Vancouver Island studio: JoVic Pottery. Come visit.

Wheel-throwing
Throwing on the Wheel
Vic's centering clay
Centering the Clay
Smiling Vic at Wheel
The Happy Potter

2014 Christmas Artisans’ Tour starts at JoVic Pottery

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Colorful Pottery by Jo and Vic Duffhues

This year, the annual Cedar and Yellow Point Artisans’ Christmas Tour will start at JoVic Pottery. The tour starts on November 19th and runs for a full five days through to and including Sunday, November 23rd.  We’ll have lots of extra brochures for those of you who have yet to get your hands on one. It’s an exciting tour, and the brochure provides a terrific map to assist you on this self-guided foray into the studios and gift shops of the members of this arts association.

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Another JoVic Pottery Showroom View

Whether you’re looking for art to add to your own collection or some gifts for those lucky recipients on your Christmas gift list, you’re bound to find something special. There’s fabulous variety available too: amazing First Nations art by Noel Brown, whose artistry can be found in galleries around the globe and includes hand carved copper, silver, gold and platinum jewelry as well as traditional cedar carvings; glass work created by Ted Jolda, including his collectible Christmas: paintings, prints and more by the talented Kathy Barnson; and more paintings by Lauren Kent; furniture and wood works painted by the award winning Claudia Lohmann; furniture and jewellery from Yonder Wood; up-cycled funky functional furniture and natural art at the Fern and Feather. But that’s not all, there are wonderful studios that specialize in plants, seeds, herbs and herbal products for your home and garden, including: Hazelwood Herb Farm, Fern Gully Garden, and Seeds of Victoria. Foodies will find special gifts and delicious ingredients at Fredrich’s Honey and Yellow Point Cranberries. There are some quilts, and special Christmas temptations at some of the other locations as well from quilts to iron works, and of course you’ll find our stunning functional and decorative stoneware and raku pottery here at JoVic Pottery, and more pottery at the Blue Ox too.

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And Some Special Decorative Pottery by Vic Duffhues

Plan to make the tour into a few fun days. With some terrific dining choices, from the Crow and Gate, the Wheatsheaf Pub, The CoCo Cafe,  to The Cottonwood Golf Club, and some outstanding Bed & Breakfast choices in our area, you’ll be on a holiday getting ready for the holidays to follow. Check the map for yourself, and enjoy a great stay in our beautiful community on Vancouver Island. JoVic Showroom Lit Shelves

 

The Art of Fire 2

It’s a little late, but with luck, not too late. There’s a terrific pottery sale in Parksville tomorrow. It’s at the Parksville Community Centre, 132 Jensen Avenue, from 11 AM ’till 5:00 PM. (click on the highlighted address to access the map)Layout 1

The Art Of The Fire holds it’s annual holiday pottery show and sale this Saturday, October 11, 2014 – Some of Vancouver Islands best potters will have work for sale. Come and watch how it’s done. LIVE DEMOS – Throwing and Hand-Building demo’s, great food, a raffle of wonderful pots by several potters and … Oh yeah, bring something if you could, for the local food bank.

Regular members of this group of potters include Gordon Hutchens, Jane Murray Smith, Al Bubnys, Anne Marie Veale, Sue Taylor, Gordon James, Martha James, Cori Sandler of Cori Sandler Pottery, Dee Aguilar, Larry Aguilar, Shirley Phillips,Richard Lonsdale, and Janet Moe. This year’s guest artists, delighted to join this fun event are: Vic Duffhues from JoVic Pottery, Al Knutsen, Neil and Anita Lawrence, Hanna Lewandowski, Shirley Phillips, Ellen Statz, John Robertson, and Harriet Hiemstra.

Vancouver Island potters create some of the most outstanding vessels, from the purely artistic and decorative, through to truly exciting and beautiful functional pottery. There will be refreshments served by Grandmothers to Grandmothers. Be sure to enjoy a lovely day–We hope to see you there.2014-08-19 11.53.50

The Joy of Wheel Work at JoVic Pottery

Jo Duffhues rarely finds herself able to work on the potter’s wheel anymore. There are multiple reasons for that. Perhaps foremost is the arthritis in her hands. But the switch from a wheel to hand-built or slab work actually began when she was doing her graduate studies and found that she just could not get back into the studio for the follow-up that wheel-thrown pottery usually requires. Making pots is a process. Checking Jo's BowlThere are so many steps required before something is finished. Preparing the clay, throwing on the wheel, trimming and handling on subsequent days, decorating at various stages… all these steps require a commitment to return to the studio in a timely manner. That isn’t always possible when you’re also doing other things on a full-time basis. Jo found that she could wrap hand-built work and return to it at her own pace, and she gradually gave up regular wheel throwing.

Over the years it became natural for Vic to make practically all of the wheel-thrown work that comes from JoVic Pottery in Ladysmith–a terrific studio on Vancouver Island. However, every so often, Jo feels the urge to center herself at the wheel. She can’t deny the impact of this amazing zen approach to clay, nor would she want to deny herself the joy she’s capable of finding in it.Happy Throwing Session Jo

There’s no doubt that constant practice is required for exceptional functional pottery, and Vic Duffhues is definitely a master potter capable of tremendous production. But Josee (Jo Duffhues) isn’t worried about production. She’s delighted by the fact that she has the freedom to take the clay, not bothering to weigh it, and to make whatever the ball she’s thrown onto the wheel allows. It’s a freedom and joy. Each of these bowls will end up being a one-of-a-kind vessel that someone will delight in using, just as she’s found immense delight in enjoying the rhythm and peace she’s experienced creating them.

Laughter in StudioThese rare occasions generally result in perhaps a few dozen bowls finding their way onto showroom shelves in time for the annual Cedar and Yellow Point Artisans’ Christmas Studio Tour, which this year will run from November 19 through to the 23rd.

JoVic Pottery–New Work for Arts on the Avenue

Pottery Booth
Pottery Booth

Arts on the Avenue is just a few days away–this coming Sunday. This is the 16th or 17th (not sure) time this fabulous event will take place in Ladysmith. You can peruse some of the pictures taken last year by clicking on this link to the Gallery. You will, as always, find us there too. We try to make sure that every year has us bringing some of our newest work for this home-town street event.

This year’s line-up of artists is as terrific as ever, and we’re counting on the weather to cooperate and make this another fabulous day. But let me tell you about some of the fabulous pottery we’ll have ready for our collectors and new customers alike… better yet, let me show you.

Alligator Sphere Vase
Spherical Alligator Crawl-glazed Vase
Textured Spherical Alligator Vase
Bronze-Necked Alligator Vase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stoneware pot shown above is definitely one of my favorites to come out of the kiln this past week. Vic’s alligator finish, layered engobes and glazes, and the gorgeous form, all work together to invite the eye and hands to love this vase. Ah yes, this one is worth drooling over.

There are other gorgeous vases too… including the one shown right with a delicious fat bronze detail on the neck.

Ash Glazed Mug
Ash Glazed Mug

 

 

 

Of course we will have a series of gorgeous mugs, and some of them will have that fabulous layered alligator finish, but we also have a few with a new ash-glazed combination that is really stunning. The ash comes from the Mount Saint Helen’s eruption.

And there are some lovely tea lights coming out of the last few firings–they’re perfect for romantic dinners, relaxing atmospheres for that soothing bath, or just simple soft mood lighting.

Ash Glaze Tea Light
Tea Lamp with Ash Glaze

We’re excited to continue to enjoy the beauty of our Vancouver Island home here in the Oyster Bay area of Ladysmith, BC. It’s a place that constantly provides inspiration–but come and see for yourself and discover why so many artists, artisans and talented crafts people make this place home.

 

Fresh Pots for Arts on the Avenue at JoVic Pottery

There are some delicious new pots coming out of the kilns lately. We’re expecting to have quite a few more for Arts on the Avenue which is our annual Ladysmith event that allows us to visit with so many of our friends and neighbors. It’s an event just not to be missed, showcasing lots of great local artists as well as some super Artisan food creators.

July 4th Alligator Pot
Red, White & Blue Alligator Crawl-Glazed Pot

I think you’ll especially love some of our new pots. Their texture is superb.

Textured Peach Pot
Peached Alligator Crawl-Glazed Pot

 

Vic’s Amazing Dinnerware at Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery

The Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery recently set up a special show in conjunction with the Crafts Council of British Columbia. It celebrates the 40th anniversary of the council. The show was by invitation only. Vic decided to create a truly amazing dinnerware set. The show is wonderful, with quilts and paintings and delightful furniture. The dinnerware set stands out as exceptional in this lovely creative environment, and I hope Ladysmith and area residents make sure they visit the gallery before this special show closes on August 25th.

Vic's beautiful Display
Vic’s beautiful Display

The pieces are stoneware, wheel-thrown, and have received multiple glaze applications and added firings to allow for the texture on the rims of the plates and create the delicious depth and coloring of the work. He rounded out the display with several other fabulous pieces, including a gorgeous ginger jar and a teapot. However, I think whoever ends up owning this remarkable dinnerware will be able to gloat that they are serving their food on functional art!

Check that lovely rim
Check that lovely rim

To aid the display, we took our oak harvest table, made for us by Mennonites in Waterloo County about 30 years ago, and refinished the table top. The table legs and drawer details still need to be refinished, but time was short, so only the top got done. But this table has seen so much use and dare I say abuse over the years, and it’s great to see how beautiful the top looks following some TLC.

The Alligator Set
The Alligator Set

This dinnerware is a one-of-a-kind set. The work involved is truly labor-intensive. The plates not only received multiple glaze applications requiring extra firings, but the final “alligator” glaze on the rims also meant having to wax the interiors of the plates and carefully sponge away any excess of the alligator glaze. Vic’s love of functional stoneware is apparent in this gorgeous set, and he’s now determined to create one special set per year.

A special Teapot
A special Teapot

Jo Duffhues Modern Art Pottery

Folk Art Village, Night
Folk Art Village, Night

Lately, I’ve been dreaming brilliant colours. There are two distinct drives working their way through my dreams. First up, I’ve been wanting to get back to some folk-art painting. I realize that the hours spent glaze-painting one single pot really do little to add to our income. However, I also know that if I don’t follow through on this kind of drive, my creativity will dry up altogether and I won’t be able to work in clay at all.

Frankie in the Garden
Frankie in the Garden

This has made me think about earning a living as an artist. Why is it that a painting fetches so much more money than a clay vessel that has been painted with glaze? It takes me far longer to paint with glazes on pottery than it ever took to do an acrylic or watercolour painting. That being said, I’m finally able to console myself by remembering that the painting side of this is truly actually my creative hobby. The clay end is what I do for a living. I’m able to combine the two. Perhaps someday these special pieces will earn someone a profit. Isn’t it so often true that the artist has to die before value is attached to the work?

Tulips
Tulips

But back to the two drives…. The second push coming my way feels somewhat retro. My first piece in this series made me think of Piet Mondriaan. It was after doing the “painting” on that piece that I found myself “googling” Mondriaan, and I realized that the work I’m doing is far more colourful. So what was that influence. Perhaps it’s what comes from having been one of those teens in the 1960’s. Perhaps it’s pop-art. Whatever it is, I must say that it’s all painstakingly slow work and has caused some major stress to my neck. However, even when I can feel the neck muscles cramping, the lactic acid bumps building, I’m unable to walk away. I keep working on and on.

African Sunset Vase
African Sunset Vase

I totally love the results of my colourful phase in clay,whether applied to wheel-thrown work or my slab-ware. I’m hoping our customers will be equally delighted. I’m using a clear over-glaze sprayed onto the work. It results in a shiny surface that is totally pleasing to the touch and absolutely delicious to see. It must be said, though, clear shiny glazes are probably the most difficult to photograph. These items are best seen in person.

Rivers and Fields
Rivers and Fields

The brilliant colours I’m using come from commercial under-glazes. As always, our own glazes are completely safe for use with all foods and beverages, and the commercial under-glazes are also safe, derived via fritting. All these pieces are dishwasher safe as well.

Modern Art Platter, $175
Modern Art Platter, $175

Glazing Pottery Jugs and Vases

STEPS IN THE PROCESS

Yesterday I found some time to post a few pictures of some vases and jugs and pitchers and told you a little about the “steps in the process.” I thought I’d take the next step here, and show you the pieces as they appear now.

Lidded Vessels, Pitchers, and Vases
Lidded Vessels, Pitchers, and Vases

They have all been through a bisque fire, and that’s been followed with an initial glaze firing.

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We do the first glaze fire at a bisque fire temperature, though in the case of the pieces shown above, we have also used engobes  (we can use some engobes on either leather-hard clay or bisqued ware, while glazes are applied only on the bisqued ware). It allows the powder to fire onto the pieces and makes it possible for them to retain their porous bisque nature which then allows them to receive additional overglazes.

Drying on Kiln
Drying on Kiln

The alligator, or crawl glaze, is particularly tricky. These glazes are reminiscent of dried clay in desert dry areas. As the moisture evaporates, the glazes shrink (almost crawling) to allow for the engobes and underglazes to show through the cracks that appear. I can handle the upper section of the jugs, since the alligator glaze is not on that part of the surface; however, the vase shown below must be lifted carefully with fingers only on the inside of the vessel.

Tricky Glaze Drying
Tricky Glaze Drying

This process is particularly fragile, with the slightest shake allowing bits of the glaze to fall off the pieces, and it’s a special problem on some of the vertical forms. Glazes and engobes are applied in stages, with for example, the glaze on the interior of these pieces allowed to dry for a full day before the additional glaze is applied to the lower sections or exteriors of the pots.

platter glaze detail
Glaze Detail Skylight Platter

When we’re working on plate or platter forms, we actually have to wax surfaces where we don’t want the texture of the alligator glazes. However, on such forms, we truly delight in seeing the lift and separation of the alligator glaze. After all, we know that in the heat of the stoneware firing, the glaze will lay back down and fuse onto the clay. The waxing process makes the plates and platters truly labour intensive, but the end results are always amazing. It seems most of our pleasure derives from the process, and perhaps that explains why the bulk of our work truly is just that: time and labour intensive.

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I’ll be sure to “blog” about the very special dinnerware set that Vic’s making for an upcoming Art Show. The hours spent on creating this one-of-a-kind set will ensure that it is most highly-collectible and will remain one-of-a-kind.

Glazed and Drying Dinnerware Set
Drying The Alligator Glazed Dinnerware

All the work made in our Ladysmith, Vancouver Island, BC studio is actually truly one-of-a-kind. Being the nature of our work, every item is individually hand-crafted. Of course when it comes to dinnerware, we try our best to keep to uniformity, allowing for a true set. Still, it’s like having babies, each one has a personality, making them all extra special.