Owls taking refuge, something odd, and high fire glazes!

It is rainy and cold outside, so these owls are taking refuge in my studio! I thought it would be fun to throw some open ended cylinders on the wheel, then try to make cats or owls out of them. The owls won!

I haven't really done animals much before, so it was a very interesting exercise pushing the clay around and working out how to do things.

I did make some quick clay studies of Nigella Stopit as she sat for me in my studio.

Most of these were done in seconds rather than minutes. I just wanted to give myself a quick overview of cat anatomy!

I also constructed a very odd sort of vase out of two of the cylinders stacked on top of each other. I decorated the outside with segments of another cylinder that I had cut up. I made the inner surface of the segments face outward.

All a bit strange for me, but it came hard on the heels of doing a small abstract painting, so my thoughts were still dealing with volumes, textures, and forms in a manner that pulled me some distance from something that was first and foremost made to be useful. I rather thought that the thing would collapse overnight, but it survived... so I will let it dry and fire it. Slosh a glaze over it, then fire again! Then I will plonk it in the corner of my studio and see what it says to me!

Today I put another glaze recipe up on my High Fire Glaze page, it is an iron red glaze that I am calling My Wen Red. Do try it if you are doing cone 10 oxidation firings, I would love to hear how you get on with it. I haven't used it much myself thus far as yet, but it is proving to be really beautiful. I want to play further with the way it is fired, trying a hold whilst the kiln cools and so on. I will also try it with more red iron oxide, or even some crocus martis (FeSo4) for the iron.

My Wen Red. Porcelain. Cone 10 oxidation.
I was not too sure if the High Fire Page would see much traffic as it is really for cone 10 glazes, and most people seem to be firing much lower at cone 6 these days, especially when using electric kilns, but the page has seen a lot of use and I do my best to answer all the questions that people send me.


Anna said…
I'll have a look at that... I quite like a similar one called Tomato Red.
Anna said…
oh and I meant to say how much I like your owls!
Peter said…
Hi Anna,
Good to hear from you, it would be great if you did try "My Wen Red", it would be really interesting to see how it works for you. The glaze fits the porcelain I use beautifully, and has all sorts of subtle variations in colour that I like very much. Thanks regarding the owls and for visiting the High Fire glazes page, the Fb link is much appreciated. P
Linda Starr said…
love your animals especially the owls, are they hollow? did you throw and add clay? hope you post when they are fired.
Arkansas Patti said…
Ooh, I love your animals. I'm curious too how you did them. My best to you Laura and Stopit.
Peter said…
Hi Linda and Patti,
Lovely to hear from you both.Here's a bit more information about how the owls were made. I should really try to take a few "step-by-step" photos next time I make some and put them on the blog. The owls are hollow. I centered about 2 kg of earthenware clay (4 and a bit pounds) on the potter's wheel but, unlike most vases, mugs, and so on, these were made without a bottom. Quite fun to do as you push right down through the middle of the clay to the wheel head. Then open the lump out to form a "dough nut". You then pull up the wall of the "dough nut" to form the cylinder. With some of the owls I bent in the top of this until it sealed over. Others, I left open and sealed later with a small slab of clay.

I started modifying these almost straight away. First pushing in two flattish areas at the top of the cylinder where the eyes were to be, then working away at the bit in between them to make a beak. After that, it was a matter of pushing and shoving everything around until it looked fairly bird like. I used wooden tools to add details, and found a clay stamp that had a good texture on it for some of the feathers.

Probably, I made things more difficult for myself than I needed to, in that I worked when the clay was quite wet, but it was hard to be patient once I got started!

Hope that description helps a bit... :-)
Kind thoughts from us all, P
The owls are great. Very expressive. What are your glaze plans for them?
Peter said…
Hi Michèle,
Plans.... :-) yes, well.. (says he giving a nervous cough and thinking rapidly).. I guess that my evolving plan is that I would love to not glaze them at all, but wood fire them and let the flame and smoke do its thing. I have been thinking wood fired thoughts over the last few days and peering at my poor neglected kiln as the rain drips down..! If nothing else, wood firing might be a good way of driving away the winter chill!
Melissa Rohrer said…
It's interesting to see how the thrown form is transformed by altering and carving. Great owls!
Peter said…
Hi Melissa,
Good to hear from you. It was fun for me to do something different with a thrown form, and nice to give the imagination some exercise!
smartcat said…
Trying to post again. Toes crossed it works!
The owls are terrific, very owly indeed! But the cats are pretty cool too!
Love the teapot!

Peter said…
Hi Smartcat,
Thank you for the encouragement! Good to hear from you. I think cats are cool at least 95 percent of the time :-) although our cat insisting on breakfast at 4.50 in the morning is pushing the envelope of "cool" just a little bit!
Anonymous said…
Fabulous Owls! It would be great to see the process! Thanks for sharing with us!
Anonymous said…
Love the owls Peter.
Please could you hold owl on right in 1st photo (one with big eyes) Would like it unglazed wood fired but leave that up to you.
I like your use of time on a really miserable day!

Amanda of Amanda and Graham
Peter said…
Hi Anonymous (#1),
Good to hear from you. I'll get Laura to take some photos when I next make owls, and I'll try to write a bit more about the process.

Good Morning Amanda,
I'll hold the owl for you (although Nigella Stopit might feel somewhat put out if it starts eating her cat biscuits!). I'll do what I can to coax the wood fired kiln into life, it would be most refreshing to have it going again.

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