Frequently Asked Questions
- Where do you get your clay and how do you get these colors?
- How long does it take to make a pot?
- Are your pots safe to use?
- Can you make…?
- Pottery Definitions
Where do you get your clay and how do you get these colors?
The pottery is made from a commercially prepared stoneware clay body which I buy by the ton. Pieces are “thrown” on an electric wheel and then either altered when still plastic, carved, combined, or sometimes left to the classic simplicity of the wheels’ influence. ‘Feet’ are trimmed on the bottom the next day and then the pots are left to air dry. After four to ten days, depending on the drying conditions, pots are placed in the kiln for the first of two firings- this time to 1800º F.
Pots can then be glazed, and that’s where the colors come from. I mix all my own glazes from recipes I have collected and adjusted over the years. Pots are fired in electric kilns. (How often? 2-3 days a week.) Technically, the colors in the glazes come from additions of various metallic oxides to the basic glazes. I layer glazes, put wax in between layers, and paint slips on top of glazes to achieve rich, deep colors and a diversity of surfaces. Pots are fired in the kiln a second time at 2250-2300º F. Opening the glaze load after it cools for a day always brings surprises as variations can occur from differences in the thickness of the glaze, application techniques, firing time sequences, and believe it or not, the weather.
How long does it take to make a pot?
Some times it seems quicker to make a pot than to explain how it is done. I most enjoy throwing pots on the wheel – which only takes about 10% of my working time. It took two years of serious wheel experience before I could readily translate the image in my mind to the lump of clay, and I still sometimes find that the clay has a mind of its own.
Are your pots safe to use?
Yes, all my pots are lead-free and safe to use with food. They are also ovenproof and microwave safe and can be cleaned in the dishwasher. The only special care is to avoid “thermal shock” (sudden changes in temperature). The pots don’t chip easily.
Can you make…?
Yes, I can make custom work in any of the glazes I have. See the Gallery section for sample glazes and images of many forms. Contact Nancy with questions about ordering. Special orders take 4-8 weeks depending on the season. I can make sets, pots to match collections of my work, or vary the sizes as with larger lamps made to order. In winter things slow down for me. But those marvelous studio elves are active. Who else is keeping the wood stove going all night so the pots won’t freeze?
- Glaze: an impervious vitreous (glassy) coating on pottery.
- Throwing: using the momentum of the potter’s wheel to draw plastic clay into various circular forms.
- Stoneware: a mixture of various clays and fillers which is opaque, hard, and non-porous, fired to about 2300º F. Different from porcelain mainly in color, due to iron in the clay.