There is a routine to making many of my slab-built pieces. This involves a process of firstly rolling out sheets of clay to a desired thickness, and to do this I use a slab roller, then finish rolling a bit thinner by hand with a rolling pin. The sheets or ‘slabs’ of clay are then usually impressed with a texture, in this case flowers, by rolling them into the surface of the clay while still soft.
Once the flowers are peeled out, the slabs are left to dry out a little overnight, just enough for them to stiffen up to be able to build a form with. If I try to build a form too early when the clay is too soft, it will just collapse.
The next stage is to construct the slabs into a form, by gently manipulating the shape of them and sticking together using scored lines and slip (liquid clay which acts as a glue).
By day 3 once the form is built, this is called the greenware stage where any tidying up around the edges is done. This is my favourite stage of handling clay ❤ a potters knife is used to trim away any excess clay and a damp sponge is used to smooth the edges.
After this the piece is left to fully dry out which can take anywhere between 2-7 days depending on the time of year, and size of the piece. When all the moisture is dried out the piece is ready for firing. Any moisture left in the clay can cause it to explode when fired! I have learnt my lesson here from being too eager, and sometimes the airing cupboard comes in handy!!!
Oxides are used to colour the botanical impressions, and a glaze is applied using a hake brush made from goats hair. This is a special brush used for glazing and decorating with slips because it does not leave streaky lines.
The finished piece, once fired, is breathtaking. The large size of this vessel makes it a real dominant focal piece.