Like Fine Wine, It Takes Time

Like Fine Wine, It Takes Time

Hello! I wanted to offer a little ‘running commentary’ on the stages that are involved in putting together these beautiful wine glasses. I tell my friends and family if they are interested in placing an order for some wine glasses to give me plenty of notice due to the multi-step process that is involved. And I think sometimes it may sound like ‘off-putting’ but truly there is multiple steps that take time and during any of these steps I can botch it up or break a piece. So here goes…

The first step is choosing the clay that I like to use, which right now is ‘high-fire’ clay that yields a stoneware ceramic (not as porous as low-fire). And I commence to ‘throwing’ the stem on the pottery wheel. That doesn’t take too long, but after I throw a stem I’m satisfied with, I transfer it to a board from the ‘bat’ that I threw it on.

Then I drape and tuck clear plastic around the stem(s) on the board and let it dry on a shelf slowly at room temperature for several days, in order for the clay not to dry to fast and crack.

Once it is completely dry and not wet or cool to the touch, I buff any sharp edges or smooth out any areas, like the bottom of the stem or around the edges. I take the stem and rub circles on a framed piece of screen and that provides for a rough buffing process. I also use a common kitchen cheese grater for smoothing, as well as a green rough scouring pad, for any fine buffing. Unfortunately, the stage of the clay at this point is brittle, so care is taken not to cause breakage…cause believe me I’ve broken a few at this stage.

Then off to the first ‘firing’ it goes to be ‘bisqued.’ If I use my kiln, I need to prep it by vacuuming out the inside so any little chipped pieces don’t explore inside into my other pieces due to the extreme high temperatures.

Then the pieces are carefully placed inside upon shelves that are stacked with kiln furniture and it takes anywhere from 5-8 hours. If I use the community studio in town, they use huge gas kilns and I place my pieces for firing along with other potters and someone stacks the pieces into the kiln and ‘candles’ the fire – and that firing takes 3 to 4 days with warming up, high-firing, and cooling down.

Once the stems come out from being fired, I lightly wipe down the bisqued stems with a damp sponge and I prepare them for the second firing. But not before I add the beautiful glaze colors.

For now, I’m still glazing at my community studio and I look at the test tiles that are displayed on the wall to show the final product of two colors with an area of overlap to make a third color. I choose my colors for the stems, but before I can dip them in the colored glaze, I must ‘wax’ the bottom of the stem, so that no glaze will touch or run off into the shelf in the kiln from my stem.

So in a regular ole electric kitchen skillet, paraffin wax is melted and I lightly dip the bottom of my stem into the wax for a coat on the bottom and let it dry – that doesn’t take too long.

Now the stem is ready to dip into the glazes that I choose. Once they have been dipped, I ensure that there are no air pin holes from the glaze and rub those out with my fingers. After the glaze is dry on the stem, I wipe any glaze that might have dripped on the bottom wax area off and place it on the shelf of pieces, along with other potter’s pieces, that area ready to be included in the next load for a firing in the gas kiln. This firing takes about 3 to 4 days as well.

Once the stems are out of the second firing, it is exciting to see if the glaze performed as expected and many times the unexpected is beautiful too! I gather my stems from my community pottery studio (I hope to have all these steps covered at my home studio one day soon!) and take them home for the last stages.

I purchase wine glasses in bulk and have figured out over the years what shapes and sizes of glasses that best fit my stems and match the glasses to the stems proportionately.

I have a handy-dandy glass-cutting tool that cuts the bottom of the stem off and with special bonding glue; I glue around the top of the ceramic stem and the bottom of the bowl of the wine glass and put them together.

As I do that, I use a level to ensure that the wine glass is not crooked (I also do a leveling check in the buffing stages before the stem is bisqued to cut down on having to make adjustments as this stage!). If adjustments are needed, I use clay to hold the two pieces in the exact place I want them. And then I let it set up for at least 72 hours or 3 days.

Once it is good and dry, I use a straight edge razor blade to carefully scrape off any drippage and to make the bonded connections look nice.

Now I wash the glasses by hand – as I recommend that my buyers do – in order to shine them up for the viewing of potential customers or for me to pack off to folks who have placed an order.

I recommend washing and drying the wine glasses by hand rather than in a dishwasher, on two accounts: one, so that there is no soap residue on the glass that affects the taste of your wine and second, so that you preserve your hand-crafted glasses longer.

After they have dried from their ‘bath’ I tagged them with the recommendation I just mentioned on a small tag and sometimes I also cut out and glue on a cork bottom and stamp it with my personalized “Wine Affectionado” stamp.

So there you have it – a complete run-down of the love and care that goes into each step in making these beautiful wine glasses. I also hope you enjoy your glasses, as much as I enjoy making them! May you use them in good health!


pottery wine glasses

Ceramic Stem Wine Glasses

  1. Marina |

    Interested in more info about these beautiful wine glasses….please reply.

    • Hello, I apologize for the very belated reply. I’ve been out of town over the last couple of months and this darn full time job keeps getting in the way of my love of doing pottery :). I’ve also been filling quite a few orders from friends/family around Christmas, so I’m looking forward to building up my inventory over the holidays! I can send you some pictures of samples and identify which ones are available right now if you still are interested?
      Let me know!
      Happy Holidays,

  2. Lucy Sterne |

    I collect wine glasses and would like to purchase one of your creations. How can I do this?

    Thank you!

    • Hello Lucy, I’m happy to send you some pics of available glasses (inventory kindov low right now 🙁 with the holidays), but I plan to build it up in the next few months.
      A single glass is $25 plus tax and S/H
      A pair is $45 plus tax and S/H.
      Let me know if you would like to see pics!
      Happy Holidays!

  3. Marna Marano |

    Sherri….I am so impressed with your work! You are not only a beautiful potter but you know how to craft your words into such a wonderful and inspiring story. I am so glad to have met you! ♥ Marna

  4. Hi
    I am interested in the smaller wine glasses. How much for four different color bottoms?


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