Friday, September 9, 2016

Creating a Ginkgo Leaf Bowl

I am working backwards from the last post! This pictorial shows how I carve the leaves into bowls, similar to the ones I was glazing in that post.

 I apply white slip to the trimmed bowl, cover it loosely with plastic and let it set up. How long until it's ready to work on depends on the weather. Yesterday it was the time it took to drive 14 miles to Aldi for some grocery shopping, and back again. Yes, I have come to embrace the weirdness of Aldi. I try to go at least once a month. They have great prices on a lot of things.
Now back to pottery...

I often use my trim tool to create a border line around the rim. Sometimes I will do a couple of lines to create a band of negative space. This bowl wanted just a single line.

Next comes the sketching. This is when I really know if the slip is ready. If the pencil drags through the slip, tearing it up, I let it set a little longer. Sometimes its hard to get to that happy medium where the rim isn't too dry but center can be drawn on. No special pencil is needed. My favorite is this pink one because it has my name printed on it. Printed correctly with one L! A rare find. I have had this pencil for over fifteen years.
Now where were we? Time to carve!

I first carve the outline of all the leaves. Sometime I will change some things as I go. That's the beauty of the pencil sketching. It allows for some wiggle room.

When all the leaves are outlined, I carve away the background. I like my background lines to move in different directions.

 When all the background is carved away, I add the veins to the leaves. I do all my carving with the same Dolan tool that you see in the second photograph. I wrap it with tape, then add a pencil "cushion" to it to make it more comfortable to hold. The handles on these small carving tools are way too skinny.  When the bowl is completely dry, I clean up the rough edges with a piece of green kitchen scrubby. I am careful not to scrub away the slip that is remaining. At this point it's ready for bisque firing. Jeff and I like to do a slow bisque to cone 06. We are currently bisque firing and glaze firing in our gas kiln. Someday we will have our glaze room organized enough to wire the electric kiln.


  1. Great to see your process in such detail. THanks!

  2. Thank you for the beautiful and detailed description of your sgraffito process. I appreciate that you have described how dry the slip should be for this work, because it always seems to be one of the tricky parts of this work.


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