"How do you do that" is a frequent question I hear at shows and openings of my work. After describing how I throw the forms on the potter's wheel and carve into them when they are leather hard, the second question is " What tools do you use?" Unlike a potter friend and fellow carver who uses only one tool for all of her carving, I have quite an assortment. I've never been able to subscribe to "Less is More", for me, it's always"More is More". Each pot seems to require a different set of tools depending on the forms and textures I am creating.
When I first began carving old dental tools and X-Acto knives were my main tools. Dental tools are great for creating the undercuts to make your images pop and the X-Acto knives work well for smoothing excised backgrounds and more geometric forms.
Dolan tools are great for scooping out curved petals when the clay is soft leather hard.
Rule of thumb: softer leather hard, use duller tools, stiffer leather hard, use sharper tools.
Then I discovered this set of mini sculpture tools in the Dick Blick catalogue. These are now my favorites. I've colored coded the handles because, when I am wearing magnifying glasses to carve, everything on my table is a blur. The colors help me to grab the tool I want with less fumbling.
Loop tools of all sizes are great for excising backgrounds
Lately, I've discovered that cosmetic sponges work the best for refining my porcelain surfaces. They leave very little texture behind.
Lastly, I have become very picky about the spray bottles that I use. I am misting my pots constantly to keep them workable for the long time that I need to complete the carving. I have found that hair product spray bottles give me the finest mist.
Maybe I should print this out to include with my resume at my next opening????????
Have you ever seen a pottery easel before? I found a photo of one on the internet years ago and found a woodworker to build one for me. At the time I thought that I would be able to use it to hold my pots when carving them at the leatherhard stage. That didn't work because the pressure to hold the pot was too much for the leatherhard porcelain. Then I figured out how handy it is when glazing my raku work.
You can see my cat named "Raku" helping me glaze this new piece "Thistle and Goldfinches"
Here is the piece, glazed and ready to fire tomorrow.
No, I have not adopted any new ecologically minded practices in my studio. Here is a green example of what happens when my work gets ahead of me in the studio. When I cast a new piece but don't have time to re-carve it to get back those wonderful undercuts lost in the slip cast process.
This also happens when I begin the initial carving of a piece and can't finish it in a timely manner.
I think it looks kind of cool. It makes me think I should try adding some washes to my pieces. What do you think?
I have donated this small teabowl (2"x3"x3") to the Arts and Crafts United for Japan Ebay Auction. The original was thrown, and hand carved. After the firing a mold was made. After the casting, I re-carve the under-cuts and details of each piece that are lost in the slip cast process. After the final firing , the unglazed surface is hand polished. A lot of time, but worth it for this tiny teabowl. Consider a bid on this or other fine crafts with the proceeds going directly to the relief efforts in Japan.