Beginning with sketchbook designs, my ideas for new pieces of pottery are developed long before I start mixing my clay and glazes.
But this is where my clay and glazes start - in big 50 pound bags of materials.
Several different materials are combined to make the stoneware clay.
I used to do this but it is much easier to purchase clay and spend time coloring it.
Clay can be mixed and recycled in my pugmill.
The chunks of soft clay are rolled flat on this device, a slab roller. When I turn the wheel, the clay is compressed into thin sheets. My extra clay is stored underneath.
By using porcelain stamps and small clay rollers with designs I have carved on them, I can impress the thin slabs of clay into a "quilted fabric" design.
Or I apply colored slips to the clay and carve designs.
Paper templates, that I designed and created, are laid on the clay so I can now carefully cut the soft slab up into shapes and fold together make teapots, mugs and other dishes.
Or I can zoom off in another direction with the colored slabs of clay and make fish. The colors are not bright because the clay hasn't been glazed and fired yet.
Here is the kiln loaded for the first firing of the clay pieces. It is called a bisque firing. This is a lower firing temperature that makes the clay hard enough to glaze for the next firing.
All of my lead-free glazes are mixed from various ingredients: silica, feldspar, limestone and coloring oxides that are combined with water to create 5 gallon buckets
of glaze. The pieces are dipped into the glaze bucket and allowed to dry.
Once dry, they go back in the kiln where they are fired again to 2300 degrees in a 14 hour process.
A day later the kiln has cooled down and viola:
a teapot and fish.
All of my pottery is dishwasher safe (don't wash the fish unless you really want to) and very indestructible unless it is dropped.