Confessions of a Clay-Collecting Junkie, or 11 Reasons to Throw Oversized Bowls

I have a confession to make: my clay collection might be getting a little out of hand.

Seriously. I have about 11 different types of cone 5 and cone 10 clays in studio, and I still find a way to convince myself that I need more. Thanks to Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up”, I discovered a 25 lb bag of clay in the hallway closet, and this is after finding a good 75 lbs in the trunk of my car.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have so much clay. Each clay body has its unique characteristics and I liken my collection to a prized book of coins or stamps. I plan to make test tiles of each clay and favorite glazes on a slow day, but with 11 types, this will be a project in itself.

Second to collecting clay, I love to form it into oversized bowls that make for home decor and statement pieces. Little Clay Studio’s bowls are food safe and generous in size for serving entrees at parties, as a special addition to meal times, and can display fruits or flowers when not in use.

The bowl pictured fires to a deep espresso and I’m searching my Pinterest boards to see how I want to decorate it. Right now I’m deciding between applying matte and satin white glazes that illuminate brush strokes, or pouring cobalt and rutile over it, and brushing on a golden glittery glaze…to be continued.

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Glazed and Fired Ink Blotted Porcelain Bowls

Yesterday’s glaze fire turned out nicely. The Skutt electric kiln I used fires to a cone 10 and because this was a glaze fire, I programmed it to fire fast—and it did just that. The next day these white porcelain with black blotted bowls were ready, giving me enough time to finish the porcelain jewelry order I received this week, and reload to bisque fire the hand-sculpted beads.

I made these bowls last year and it’s interesting to find aspects of older pieces that you’ve refined in your newer work. I’m happy to keep these as a set of soup bowls and will add a few of the mini catch-all’s to the shop when I get a chance to photograph them.

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Ink Blotted Bowls

I'm working on an order for Little Clay Studio's porcelain statements earrings, and these tiny bowls are designed with the same ink blots, so I f-i-n-a-l-l-y decided to pull them out and get them glazed. These bowls are made with grolleg porcelain, which fires to a pure and glassy white at cone 10. The black blots add a simplistic high contrast.

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Speckled Bowls Preview

It’s fascinating how clay transforms at each firing stage. I love the mellow tones and how this collection resembles iced gingerbread cookies 🍪This clay began as a rich brown fresh out of the bag, saturated to a coral after it was bisqued, and ultimately subdued to a café au lait with speckled flecks.

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How to Safely Sand Pottery

This kiln fire produced eighteen beautifully bisqued pieces that are ready to sand.  Before I glaze my work, I make sure to sand each piece to create a smooth touch that will not scratch wood or other surfaces. 

Sanding adds craftsmanship and value to your ceramics as it improves the tactile connection a person has with your work. Clay with a high grog content has a visual and textural intrigue as it develops after firing. Grog also feels rough—it has a tooth that scrapes and snags. I’ve found that sanding groggy clay produces a velvet-like smoothness as the grog is now level to the clay and still substantial in texture. Sanding clay with little to no grog creates a smooth coolness that’s similar to soapstone.

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