Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Technique -- Coil pot construction

Another one for the handbuilders out there.  I don't know about you but I am quite linear in my thinking so when you say "coil", I think horizontal.  Here's a video that shows you that coil does not have to be horizontal.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Techniques -- Handbuilt "Slab" Tumblers by Charan Sachar

I know I post mostly wheel throwing techniques but here's one for you handbuilders out there.  My take away from this demonstration are:

1. Use templates for consistency in size and shape.

2. Use support for moving slabs -- I guess this is even more important when the slabs are softer.  Use anything at your disposal that is close to the shape or the size of what you are making.

3. Pre-decorate the slabs when they are still flat as much as possible and minimize fussing once they slab is "assembled" into their final shapes.  Give your work time to firm up before you have to handle it again.


Friday, June 13, 2014

News -- Show your work

Here are two opportunities to show your work.

1.  Highlighted Student Shelf

The Highlighted Student Shelf will display 2 to 6 pieces of work of any current Lillstreet ceramic student for a period of 2-weeks.  When you submit your work for consideration, you must have a) an Artist Statement that will explain the thought process behind your work. b) Photos or the actual work that you intend to display. Photos does not have to be professionally shot but is meant to provide an idea of the work that will be displayed.

So, get the process started!  Once you have your artist statement and the pieces you want to display, contact Sean at to set up an appointment to review your artist statement and your work.

2.  Annual Lillstreet Student Member Show

The Student Member Show will run from September 29 through October 5 this year (2014).  You will need to submit photos of three pieces of your work that is reminiscence of the work that you will display/sell during the member show. The photos does not have to be professionally taken but should be of high quality.  There is a $20 processing fees and the submission deadline is June 30th.  Point your browser to to begin your application process.

Good luck and have fun!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Inspiration -- Never Give Up

As anyone in a First Time Potter class would attest -- there are days when you just feel like giving up.  Especially when your teacher makes it looks so easy and you have trouble even just keeping the wheel going at a steady speed. This video will hopefully inspire you to keep going.  

Ceramics, to me, is something that you could get technically good at if you just keep doing it and practice, practice, practice.  Sometimes, you need the help of someone with more experience (teacher) to help you with certain techniques to get over a hurdle.

To me, a technically good pot means that a pot is well made and is of the appropriate thickness and weight for the intended use of the pot. But, making a technically sound pot is only one aspect of the challenge that is ceramics. The other aspect is the art or creativity of it all. What makes your pot different than the thousands of pots already out there.

Putting on your creative hat to make the pot your own.  There are so many options available when it comes to alterations and decorations.  How will you alter that cylinder to make it your own?  How will you decorate the surface? What glaze will you choose that fits the shape of the pot?  The two combined is what makes a handmade pot art.

P.S. Be it right or wrong, this is just my opinion and not a reflection of anyone else's opinions.  Comments welcomed.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Techniques -- Preventing "S" Crack When Throwing off the Hump

The title is a little bit of a misnomer.  This video is more about just preventing "S" crack in pots thrown off the hump. I wanted to share this because of the measurement technique shown.  Many of us have trimmed through the bottom of a pot.  The tapping technique works for some but it takes years of experience to know that the "thunk thunk thunk" to mean a certain thickness and it's a guess at best.  This method is sort of scientific and you can just measure the depth of your foot ring to know if you've hit your mark.  Enjoy the demo and leave your feedback in the comment section.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Techniques -- Stack and Slam Wire Wedging

Last week, I posted a video of the spiral wedging method where you can wedge a large amount of clay by concentrating on a small amount at a time. Be that as it may, it still requires some sort of wrist action to accomplish the task.  That is a tall task for someone with chronic wrist pain.

Today's post is another wedging method that doesn't really use the wrist. It requires cutting your piece of clay in half using a wire attached at 45 degrees to a vertical and horizontal support.  After cutting the clay, you rotate the individual pieces and slam one piece of top of each other.  The video is clearer than my explanation.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

#TBT -- The Art of Potter

On social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, a word or phrase (with no space between words) preceded by a hash sign (#) is used to identify messages on a specific topic.  By clicking on the hashtag, you will be able to see all messages pertaining to that particular topic.  

#TBT has been used to identify messages related to "Throw Back Thursday" or, simply, paying homage to our past.  In the vein of the message, I submit for your consideration, a video on the potter's history.  Specifically, the  British potter.  This video is part of a three part series on the history of potter in Britain. This is episode three, titled "The Art of the Potter".  

It's quite a lengthy video and is broken into four parts.  I can't embed the video here due to certain copyright protection so I will link you to the video on YouTube.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Techniques -- Wedging

Whether you're a handbuilder or a wheel thrower, some techniques are universal (in my humble opinion).  One such technique is wedging.  

Wedging your clay well removes a lot of potential issue that you may encounter later on.  Yes, I am talking about the proverbial "air bubble".  The air bubble expand when it is heated in the kiln and the air will have to escape somehow.  The point of escape (aka the size of the hole it creates) depends on the size of the air bubble.  Wedging also aligns the clay particles so that it is more workable.  

All First Time Potter students are taught the "rams head" method of wedging but as your skills improve and you start to use more and more clay, the "rams head" method becomes quite unwieldy due to the sheer volume of clay you have to manage.  

For hand builders/sculptors, you are often left with quite a bit of clay as you hollow out your work.  In order to reuse those clay, a good wedging would be in order.

Anyway, more details about wedging can be found here and here.

Today's video demonstration is the "Spiral" wedging method.  This method lets you wedge a large amount of clay while only concentration on a small lump at a time.  The Japanese word for spiral wedging is "Kikumomi" which roughly translates to "Chrysanthemum wrinkles".

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ceramics Department -- Summer Schedule

The summer schedule is online.  The summer 2014 session runs from June 16 to August 24.

You can check out the schedule here.  Scroll to the bottom of the page.

Here's a preview and you can actually sign up online by clicking on the link to each class:


LAC Members $170.00 / Non-Members $175.00
LAC Members $170.00 / Non-Members $175.00
LAC Members $320.00 / Non-Members $330.00
LAC Members $320.00 / Non-Members $330.00


LAC Members $320.00 / Non-Members $330.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00


LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00
LAC Members $350.00 / Non-Members $360.00


LAC Members $50.00 / Non-Members $55.00
LAC Members $50.00 / Non-Members $55.00
LAC Members $60.00 / Non-Members $65.00
LAC Members $50.00 / Non-Members $55.00
LAC Members $50.00 / Non-Members $55.00
LAC Members $50.00 / Non-Members $55.00


LAC Members $160.00 / Non-Members $165.00

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Techniques -- Surface Decoration

For those of us who needs to be inspired, here's a collection of short clips from the masters on surface decoration (except the first one and a half minute).  This video is quite rare because most of the videos I've seen tend to showcase a single artist.  

These are Korean masters from the Incheo area in Seoul, Korea. Incheon is the ceramics center of Korea and is where the international airport in Seoul is located.

Clip 1 (to 1:35) -- check out how deep he has to go with opening the centered clay
Clip 2 (to 2:34) -- slip layering, incising and sgraffito.
Clip 3 (to 4:00 ) -- inlay (mishima), stamping and form alteration.
Clip 4 (to 5:10 ) -- incising (yes, still incising even though you don't cut through like in Clip 2) and form alteration.
Clip 5 -- This master showed a different/advance way of using slip application and incising.  Also shown is selected application of mishima (inlay) to targeted areas of the pot.  And finally a painting technique with slip.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Lillstreet Workshop -- Momoko Usami

I remember with great fondness a simple tea cup that Momoko made from porcelain.  What first attracted me to the cup was the simple underglaze painting on one side.  However, the little cup held a "secret".  If you look through the bottom of the cup at a light source, you are presented with the image of a ballet dancer. Such is the technical abilities and the whimsical nature of Momoko's work.

You now have an opportunity to learn from Momoko.  She will be at Lillstreet to conduct a workshop on Pinhold Viewers on June 6, 2014.  Sign up for the class here.

If you would like to see more of her work, make sure to "Like" her potter page on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Techniques -- Centering clay

Here's a rather lengthy video of a master Ceramist at the world famous Wedgwood in England.  The video sort of cuts out at the end but I think the most important part is the first 2 minutes plus of the video where the master thrower demonstrates various techniques for centering a lump of clay.  Enjoy and please leave feedback or comments. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ode to Monitors -- Michelle

Everyone, meet Michelle.  She has been a monitor at Lillstreet for a long time and, most recently, is responsible for loading the glaze kiln on Wednesdays with Steve Acoba.  Michelle sent me an email to let me know that she recently completed her Art degree.  CONGRATULATIONS, Michelle. 

She also sent me the images below of her work in the "Cut From the Same Cloth" exhibition at Mercer University in Macon, GA.  

I see some Japanese inspiration particularly from the Oni lore but Michelle says that she does not associate any direct influence from any particular culture with these masks. Most of her travels have been in Spanish and European countries and S. America.  She also have an extensive art history background. So maybe I am just seeing something that Michelle have been influenced by but not aware of. 

The show ran from April 13 to the 19.  What an amazing body of work.  Thank you for sharing, Michelle. These masks are fantastic!

Michelle's statement for the show:-

Growing up and to this day we are constantly exposed to this idiom. As adolescents, I believe we take this literally in that “we” are alike in some way whether it is physically or behaviorally. Since moving away from the South, maturing, traveling and being exposed to other cultures “cut from the same cloth” has taken on a larger meaning.

The cloth represents shared values, beliefs, and norms that shape who we are. Although it is important to recognize this commonality, it is equally important to grow and become an individual. Each person reflects through personality and appearance the sum of their experiences. I found that sculptural representations evolve similarly. The majority of these faces were made from one single mold - the original cloth - the inner face of each piece. But, like humans, even though there is a common beginning, each piece took on a life of its own. Integrating organic media and ceramics, for me, is representative of the journey we take in the creation of our own being.

- Michelle L. Anderson

April 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Weekend Workshop -- Cast That Handle

Today, a few other students and I spent a good part of an afternoon in a workshop with Joe Kraft about casting handles in plaster.  These handles can be used for mugs or any other vessels that has a handle.  If you have a handle shape that you really like and would like to make it repeatedly and easily, this is the workshop for you.

Joe spent the first half an hour explaining handle making and what types of handle forms are suitable for casting and then the participants spent about 30 minutes making the handles they want cast into a mold.  

Joe then explained the process of mixing plaster for the casting as he mix the plaster for the handle molds.  It was a very informative workshop and the time flew by.  The video below is of Joe and his able assistants separating each individual mold from the giant block.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Techniques -- Porcelain Platter

I was making my rounds of the pottery blogs that I subscribed to and saw this video on an amazing technique for throwing porcelain platters.

The artist is Harlan House and he has a blog here.  Harlan House is potter who has been making porcelain pots for over forty years. Harlan’s works of art can be found in museum and art gallery collections throughout the world.

I've viewed the video at least a dozen time and is always fascinated by what I see in the last few minutes.  I think it is a technique worth at least trying out since you can potentially turn a cylinder with a twelve inch base and twelve inch walls into a 36 inch'ish platter. I think you could potentially adapt this technique for large bowls as well with some minor adjustment.  I also think that you can use this technique with other clay bodies.  Finally, this technique also gives you a lot of surface to decorate with.

The picture above is my first attempt at using the technique demonstrated.  I started with 3.5 lbs of porcelain clay and ended up with a 12" platter.  It is a lot of fun to try and quite thrilling as well.  How low can you go?  How big can you go?

Please try it out and leave comments about your successes or modifications to the technique. Good luck!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

7th Annual Empty Bowls

Lillstreet Arts Center proudly hosts the 7th annual Empty Bowls event to benefit First Slice Pie Cafe!  If you are not doing anything tomorrow (April 11); drop by Lillstreet from 5PM to 8PM.

The Empty Bowls Project is a nationwide effort by potters & artists to end hunger.

It is a really fun event and you get to keep a handmade bowl and a nice bowl of soup.  All these for a good cause too!  Guests will enjoy the soup & bread social in a handmade bowl donated by a local artist. 

Guests may take home their bowls as a reminder of all the other bowls that may be empty. Bowls are $25 each, and there is no limit to the number of bowls that can be purchased. Sales begin at 5pm on a first come, first served basis. 

There will also be a silent auction of donated artist-crafted jewelry, textiles, prints, paintings & drawings, glass objects, and ceramics.

Help us FILL those empty bowls! First Slice currently serves over 600 meals a week through our Outreach Program, partnering with StreetWise, The Crib, Broadway Youth Center, and the Welcome Meal at Epiphany UCC.

Featured Artisan Soups:
Bacon & Potato
Curried Cauliflower (Vegetarian)
Butternut Squash Chowder (Vegan & Gluten-Free ) 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A different perspective......

Here's an interesting read.  An established artist but a beginner potter shares her experience diving into a new medium:

Mochimochi Land was launched in 2007 as a place where knitted toys and people can live together in a spirit of tolerance. You too can advance human-toy understanding by knitting a new friend!
annaThe characters that inhabit Mochimochi Land are original designs by Anna Hrachovec, a knitter who lives in Chicago. Anna finds inspiration in Hello Kitty, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and illustrators like Dr Seuss and Mary Blair. Anna’s knitted toys have been featured on The Martha Stewart Show, all around the web, and in print.
The Mochimochi Shop features Anna’s books, kits, and downloadable knitting and cross-stitch patterns. Printed Mochimochi Land patterns and kits are also available for wholesale prices to retailers.
When she’s not designing patterns to share with fellow crafters, Anna creates character-based knitted art, which has been exhibited around the US, in Europe, and Asia. You can see her art at

Friday, February 14, 2014

David (Todd) Trost featured on WCIU

Our very own David Trost was interview by WCIU.  Here's a link to the video.

And here's a link to his updated website.