Hello! I wanted to offer a little ‘running commentary’ on the stages that are involved in putting together these beautiful wine glassesand other pottery pieces. I tell my friends and family if they are interested in placing an order for 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 piece on the pottery wheel. That doesn’t take too long, but after I throw a piece 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 piece(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. Sometimes for a particular piece, I may take it and rub circles on a framed piece of screen and that provides for a rough buffing process. I may also use other common kitchen tools, such as a 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 explode 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 pieces 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.
I like 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 my pieces, but before I can dip them in the different colored glazes, 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. Or I sponge on a cool wax, if the piece is odd-shaped or too big for the electric skillet.
Now the piece 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 pieces from my community pottery studio and take them home for the last stages. More buffing and construction, if that’s what’s required with a particular piece.
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. I usually wash and dry the finished pieces before tagging them.
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 my creations, as much as I enjoy making them! May you use them in good health!