Tag Archives: wheel-thrown

Pottery-A Slow Process

Jan 2015 wheel throwing
Vic at the wheel

The making of quality stoneware pottery, whether functional or decorative, is far from a rapid process. Aside from clay preparation, pots made require careful drying before they can even be put through their first bisque fire.  But just the making is a time consuming thing, especially for large vases that are thrown in two stages.

Two-Piece Altered Vase by Vic Duffhues
Careful finishing of joined, altered vase by Vic Duffhues

Getting the neck onto the base requires careful joining; after all, if the pot is not put together correctly, the neck would come free of the vase. Careful smoothing and finishing is needed.

Potter's Wheel with Vic
Inspired Creativity

Then there’s a process that allows us to get some color onto the pieces before a first firing–of course not until the pieces are bone dry. We often spray the work with engobes, or brush on slip.

Kiln Load with Bisque-Glazed Pots
A Bisqued Load of Partially Glazed Pots

Once the pottery is again bone dry, we’re able to place the work into the kiln for a first firing. We bring them up slowly and cool slowly as well to avoid any potential cracking or warping through this cycle.

JoVic Partially Glazed & Fired Vases
Some Vases With Initial Fired-On Glazes

The cooled pots then need waxing before we can glaze. If we didn’t wax the bottoms the pottery would end up stuck to the kiln shelves.

JoVic Wax Station
Hot Wax Set-up with Exhaust

Once the waxing is finished, we can get on with the work of glazing. This is frequently a slow process because we tend to use multiple glazes and each coat must be completely dry before we add a next layer. Bisqued pottery is still somewhat porous, and the water base of the glazes is absorbed into the work, requiring careful and total drying between each step.

Waxed Mug
Hot Waxed Base

Some of our pottery is actually put through a few low temperature firings. This ensures that the first layers of glaze are fired on, allowing us to handle the pottery without smudging or accidentally removing some of the glazes. Though the glazes in this case have not reached a mature melt, they are stable enough to handle.

Bisque-Glazed Platter and Lidded Vessels
Kiln with Bisque-Glazed Platter and Lidded Vessels to Unload

Fired on glazes really help with some of our more complicated glaze applications. Crawl glazes, for instance, cannot be applied to glazes unless they have already been fired on at a lower temperature. By their very nature, as reticulating glazes, they would pull up any immature glazes they were placed on and instead of an attractive crawl, exposing lovely sub-surface colors or glazes, they’d end up exposing some terrible peeling effect that exposed clay.

Crawl Glaze Drying on Stoneware Platter
Glaze Drying in Bowl of Platter with Waxed-Over Glaze Rim

Each kiln load has us looking forward to seeing whether what we envision at the start of making our work actually lives up to our hopes.

Vic glazing Vase
Preparing to Glaze a Vase

With the glazes applied, the final drying begins.

Glazed Vases Ready to Fire
Glazed and Drying in advance of Firing

Once we’re sure the pots are dry, we can carefully load the kiln. Great care must be taken with vertical vases that have crawl glazes applied near the base.

Kiln loading at JoVic Pottery
Stacking the kiln for a final glaze firing

A slight bump and the glaze will fall off the pot, potentially leaving bare spots where they might not be desired, and also fusing to expensive kiln shelves or other kiln furniture.

Cone 6 Firing Ready to go
A Nicely Loaded Kiln Ready to Fire

Some of the final results pleased Jo Duffhues immensely–not so Vic. He’ll likely take the vases he’s not thrilled with and apply additional glazes for yet another re-fire.

Stoneware Vase
Vic’s not happy with this?

I have to remind him that some of our customers love the pieces that he is not excited about at all. The trouble is that when we work we have an idea of the outcome we’re seeking, and if things don’t turn out that way, we tend to think it’s a failure. It’s very hard to get past that kind of negative response. But since I love these pieces, I think they’re a great success.

Stoneware Vase Feb 2015
Multi-Glazed Stoneware Vase

Yes, these are the vases that Vic is seen making in the images above. Now it’s just a question of who wins the argument–will they be fired once again?

 

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.