Process, Methods and Materials
Each of my botanical pieces begins with a walk in the mountains and woods of Central Virginia where I gather wild plant specimens. All of my pieces are wheel-thrown using a buff-colored stoneware clay body. I press plant specimens into the wet clay, and then pull the specimen off, leaving an accurate fossil impression which gives me a template for glazing. I use a churchkey to make the repetitive point pattern at the rims and bases of some of the pieces, pressing one point at a time, free hand.
Knobs, handles and feet are hand pulled from stoneware. People often mistake my handles for wrought iron, but they are clay.
I use a combination of my own glaze recipes and commercial glazes. The glazes we mix ourselves include a green copper ash, an amber celadon, a blue celadon and a temmoku black. We use a variety of techniques to glaze each piece, including waxing, dipping, wiping and brushing. We sponge a red iron oxide wash over the point pattern and any unglazed areas.
I fire my pieces in one of two electric kilns to cone 05 for bisque and cone 7 for glazing. Bisque firing takes about 12 hours and glaze firing takes about 8-9 hours. The pieces sit in the kilns to cool for two days after the firing is completed. This helps my green glaze develop a fine pattern of crackling, which resembles old Chinese celadons.
The whole process takes three to six weeks. I lose a number of pieces to cracking, warping, or breakage at various stages of making, and to glaze faults in the firing. The pieces that meet my standards after all the firings are completed are those that I present to you in my gallery, at shows, and on this web site.
Brenda applying slip to a large fern tile mural