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All the vessels that I make are shaped by hand using the potters wheel. The materials that make the porcelain I use are mixed with water and put through a pug mill(a machine much like a sausage grinder) that mixes and de-airs the porcelain. It comes to me in a plastic bag in a box and is stored till needed. I put the porcelain through my pugmill to mix it and de-air and size it. The round shape that comes out is marked at one pound increments and I select the amounts by the pound for the different pieces I make. A small bowl for example, is made from one and one half pounds of clay, but because of water loss and firing loss, will weigh less than three quarter pounds when finished.
I begin the forming process by putting a lump of porcelain on the potters wheel for centering. With both hands I apply pressure evenly from the sides to make the clay become centered. This step is part of a process called throwing, but is actually "turning" with the wheel head as a kind of vertical lathe. Water is used as a lubricant and the process only takes a few seconds, but has to be done thoroughly to make the pieces have a symmetrical shape. This centered mass is on a plastic bat that can be removed from the wheel head when I am finished  throwing the pot.
While the wheel head is turning more pressure is applied with my hand to the center of this mass, and it is opened till a short wall develops and becomes a cylindrical shape. This lifting continues and the shape grows with some clay left at the bottom to create the floor of the pot. This step also happens rapidly, and is the most dramatic as the lump is transformed into a bowl shape in a few seconds.
To finish the bowl shape the cylinder is opened and the sides laid over to make the bowl.
A piece of metal called a rib, is used to finish the shaping and to smooth the surface.
This ribbing takes the most time and is the final step in shaping the bowl. When done
the bowl is cut loose from the surface of the wheel head and allowed to harden for
several days before the next step.
When the bowl becomes firm, or what we call leather hard, it is turned over on the wheel and the excess porcelain is trimmed away from the underside of the bowl wall to create the outside shape, and the foot that the bowl will set on is cut into the bottom.
After the trimming, and while the bowl is still upside down on the wheel, my signature and the year date are painted on the recessed part of the foot. The bowl is still leather hard and is now ready for the color to be applied to the surface and later will get the unique designs using sgrafftio. Go to the next page to see how a piece is finished with
the Sgraffito Process.

Next Page For Sgraffito Process

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