I currently am using a process called slip casting to make my ceramic pieces. I made hollow plaster molds around handbuilt flasks and pots. I pour natural white slip (liquid clay) into the molds and let them set up for between 40 and 100 minutes before pouring out the remaining slip and letting the form harden. The next day I remove the pot or flask from the mold and trim the top. Once the piece is structurally sound enough to work, a stage called leather hard, I scrape off the mold seam lines and trim and sponge clean the entire piece. It takes a few days to a week to dry out all the way, and then it’s ready for the first firing.
The bisque firing is done in an electric kiln to cone 05 (1888 degrees). After the kiln has cooled down, I unload all the pieces and inspect them for irregularities, and then I sand and wash all of them. This is an important step later on. The next day the pieces are usually dry enough to start the glazing process. I first glaze the insides of the flasks and the pots with clear glaze. After another day of drying I can start working on the glaze designs.
For both the flasks and the pots, I use masking tape to set up my designs. This is why I sand and wash each piece, the masking tape doesn’t adhere as well and the lines are not as sharp if I don’t. This is also the process that takes the most time. I put the masking tape on, piece by piece, and cut off the excess and overlapping pieces with an exacto knife. For the flasks I hand paint three coats of black underglaze before removing the tape. The same for the pots, but I use either a glossy white or a metallic gray glaze, leaving the rest of the pot the natural raw clay. Because each piece is individually masked and the glaze is painted by hand, each flask or pot is similar but unique.
Now the pieces are ready for the glaze firing. I fire them in an electric kiln to cone 5 (2167 degrees). Once they’re cooled down I unload the kiln, sand the bottoms of each piece again, make sure the corks fit the flasks perfectly, and then they’re done!
There you have it. Now head on over to my SHOP page and buy yourself a present, or buy it for someone in your life that loves handmade goods!