Process & Materials

The process, together with the materials, give the work it’s depth and hum. Colors, sizes and shapes will vary from piece to piece, and no two pieces are exactly alike, so please take that into consideration when purchasing. I strive for consistency in replicating the work while simultaneously embracing unique qualities, beautiful wobbles and gifts the kiln and our hands may bring.

PROCESS

Making: All the work is either built by hand or thrown on a wheel.

Drying: Because clay shrinks about 6% as it dries (and another 6% while firing), all of the components of a single piece, large & small or thick & thin, must dry evenly to prevent cracking and minimize warping. To ensure even drying there is a lot of ‘babysitting’ (propping, flipping, covering etc). This step cannot be rushed and large pieces can take several weeks to dry while flat pieces must be watched carefully to ensure the air gets to the both sides evenly or warping will occur.

White Surface: When the pieces are completely dry (called greenware) they are in their most fragile state. The clay body I use fires to a toasty brown, and at this point it is dipped & painted with multiple layers of a white clay-based material that is mixed at the studio.

Bisque Firing: The work is then bisque-fired in an electric kiln to 1725 degrees. The bisque firing is a 3 day cycle and when finished, the work is still fragile, but strong enough to handle, glaze and paint.

Painting & Glazing: Interiors of some pieces are glazed. Then sketching & painting of images on all the pieces.

Glaze Firing: Once the work is painted and/or glazed it is loaded into the gas kiln and fired to 2350 degrees. Gas firings are a 4 day cycle. i.e If we load Monday the kiln pilots overnight, fires Tuesday, cools Wednesday and unloads on Thursday.

Assembly: Rope ends are cut, whipped & assembled, wall hangings are knotted together, knockers are assembled, etc etc. 

Packing & Shipping: We try to be as eco-friendly in the studio wherever possible. Starch peanuts are used for ALL shipping & cardboard is recycled at the studio. Bubble wrap is our friend & foe, pink tape is eye candy.

MATERIALS

Clay: Stoneware & Porcelain

Images: All images are painted by hand with glaze and/or underglaze 

Rope: Bells are assembled with 7’ of hemp rope, XL with 10’ of hemp rope. Birdhouses 8’. Rope ends are bound with waxed whipping twine

Twine: PLT’s, Curtains & Wall Hangings are knotted with heavy duty waxed whipping twine

Cotton Cord: Waxed cotton cord made in the USA is used to assemble Ornaments

Wood: All wood components are hand crafted of reclaimed (when available) Walnut or White Oak in Brooklyn NY & Cincinnatti OH

Iron: All iron components are handmade in the U.S. 

Fabric: 100% Cotton fabric tassels are hand dyed and assembled in house

The clay body is an East Coast stoneware with plenty of grog and iron that is fired to Cone 10 (2350 Degrees) in an atmospheric gas reduction firing. In it’s raw state it fires to a deep toasty brown.

From wet clay to it's final fired state the stoneware shrinks about 12% as the water, both material and chemical, dissipate and the clay molecules melt & fuse together. During this process there is a lot of movement the forms can bend and warp.  

Grog, which looks like sand, is clay that has been fired, ground up and re-wedged into the clay. Adding it creates ‘tooth’ allowing the clay to ‘stand up’ better during building and aids to reduce warping & cracking while drying and shrinking. Visually, I love the way it enhances the ‘stone-like’ texture and feel. Sometimes you will see small blow-outs from the grog after the piece is bisque-fired. This is a regular occurrence in my work and we paint and glaze fire only the blow-outs that we find acceptable and that do not detract from the piece.
 
During an atmospheric firing the air is cut off from the flame so it looks for oxygen within the clay body and draws out the iron turning it to a dark toasty brown. It is the combination of the toasty brown clay body with the applied white clay surface that creates the depth and variation of color of the work. This is not a ‘flat surface’ and the application of the white clay, brush strokes & dipping overlays, are enhanced in the gas firing as the stoneware turns a deep toasty color. Dark spots are from iron that has melted and risen to the surface. Color variations can happen not only from kiln to kiln but within one kiln load depending on where the work was placed in the kiln.

All of these Wink Dishes were fired in the same kiln, but fired in different areas: