I have decided to use ‘superwhite’ clay for my set of bowls; after experimenting with several different types I decided this was the one to use. Terracotta clay has a high sand content, and is difficult to work into a fine edge. It would therefore mean my bowls would be heavier, which is the opposite effect I’m looking for. ‘Buff’ clay is the standard stuff used day-to-day as it’s easy to work with, and relatively cheap. However, ‘superwhite’ has a much lower sand content and is really smooth, so I can create very fine edges. The highest-grade clay in the studio, porcelain, is finer still but is difficult to throw with and is quite expensive – not very forgiving in terms of making mistakes! The ‘superwhite’ clay is obviously particularly white after firing, meaning the finished product has a cleaner, sharper look. ‘Buff’ clay’s composition causes specks to form when using a clear or translucent glaze, which I don’t want.
Today I was shown how to do “throwing off the hump” – a Japanese technique which makes centring the clay much easier, and the process of making multiple pots quicker. What you do is centre a large lump on the wheel and smooth it, then draw up a piece from it which is the size you want, without detaching it from the base too much. Once you’ve formed the pot, you cut it off the top of the clay and start again, drawing up another piece to work with. Before this, I was weighing out pieces of clay to keep them the same size as closely as possible. This was more time-consuming, but more accurate. If there was a way of measuring out the exact amount you wanted to use each time when throwing ‘off the hump’, that would be great. This means I’ll probably stick to measuring out each small ball of clay (I’ve been working with 120g, which gives a good-sized bowl for a single Gulab Jamun…)
I’ve started making a miniature model for my piece, which I will continue to develop over the weekend and the coming week. Next week my main focus will be on getting the ceramic pieces made, and potentially start the glazing.