Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I am back to the basics this cycle, throwing terra cotta for several kiln firings. The goal is to get a good blend of tebori carved, black & white slipped ware and some abstract resist pieces. Honestly though, terra cotta is a real love/hate relationship and there are times when trying to throw it is just a huge pain. Heat and humidity certainly don’t help in the attempt as pieces begin to dry unevenly and warp where the air current is greater in the studio, so fans are a no go! The surfaces on these pieces is the more “fun and whimsical” stuff that I do, but during the summer, terra cotta is anything but fun!

I think back to those early days at CSU, there was an amount of naiveté when it came to clay and temperature options, but as I watched Dick Schneider and several other students using terra cotta, I thought what the heck. In the beginning when my throwing skills weren’t very well developed, trying to make 20” + platter with terra cotta was frustrating. I could throw it as I wanted it, but within a day, they were all warped. Luckily I have come quite a ways since then, though I am always mindful to give the terra cotta the respect, TLC and understanding it requires. The end results of that rich red clay with a wide variety of surfaces makes the struggle that much more enjoyable!

Illustrated is an 18” terra cotta “Go Fish” platter with black & white slip trailed design.

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