I’ve been really busy recently preparing for and attending a show over here in the UK, so I wasn’t sure what to write about for my post today. When I’m stuck, I usually have a flick through my photos to see if there’s anything inspiring and this time I came across something which I’ve revisited on and off over the last couple of years. It’s a fun process for clay and gives you really interesting results.
The technique is using liquid sodium silicate to crack the clay and give it a rough appearance and it’s really simple to do. I’m working on a wheel, but it will also work for hand building.
Start by creating a tall straight sided cylinder. (S’cuse the mess! I need to have a clean up!!!)
Don’t thin the clay too much. I usually keep it at around half an inch thickness.
Using liquid sodium silicate and an old brush, brush it on to the outer surface of the pot avoiding the top and bottom lip. A thin coat is enough, if you add too much, it will seep under the pot and lift it from the wheel head ruining the whole thing.
With a heat gun, dry the outer surface of the pot until the sodium silicate loses it’s sheen and is dry to touch.
Now for the tricky bit… you can only touch the side of the pot from here on… gently push the wall outwards and upwards to stretch the clay in to shape.
Shape the pot until you’re happy.
And collar in the top to complete the shape.
Remove from the wheel, dry and fire as usual.
I’ve made a few pots using this technique, I love the rough texture which lends itself to some really nice glaze effects. This pot was Obvara fired with flour and yeast for a really interesting surface.
For a rougher effect on this pot I covered the surface in thick slip, dried it a little and then used the sodium silicate to create the cracks.
As I said earlier, it also works for hand building, roll your slab, paint with a layer of sodium silicate, dry the top surface and form your shape. You do have to be careful though as it cracks as you’re working. This one split as I was rolling around a tube to make the cylinder, so I made it in to a feature.
The technique can be scaled down when hand building too, I’ve used small pieces cut from a slab for pendants.
For each of these pots, I used a strong, grogged raku clay, but you can use other clays for different amounts of cracking. Using thick slips and scratching in to the surface will also affect the finished result. It’s a really fun technique to play around with and you can be sure every piece will be unique!