Monday, February 13, 2006

Ten Little Engine Bells

Julie and I went into the studio this evening, after I got home from work.

Julie worked on one of her porcelain dragon eggs. The egg has a dragon emerging from the shell. She picked up some new tools at Daley's and has put textures inside the mouth, and little teeth. She has the little mouth closed, to protect the teeth, as she continues working on the piece.

I threw engine bells for my rockets. I had thrown five or six the other night, for the three rockets that I had thrown, but needed a wider selection. Throwing the little cups for the bells is the smallest pieces that I have ever thrown.

I start with a piece of clay about the size of a stack of nickles. I wrap my left pinky around the clay, to take the place of my left hand, and my right thumb rides the top to smooth that out. Once centered, I usually square off the bottom edge with a rib. I open with the tip of my right pinky, making sure that I have enough water to keep the clay from binding. Once I have a nicely centered hole, I push inwards at the base with the edge of my little fingers, to force the shape to narrow at the base, and, after repositioning my hands, do a pull with the tips of the little fingers. After the first or second pull, I'll even out the rim with the needle tool, but going from the inside-out (bracing the rim with a finger), instead of outside-in. I'll shape the interior a bit with a fingertip, and collar the piece at the rim to give it the right proportions. The piece is finished with a bit of sponge to condition the rim, then I use the edge of a rib to remove some of the excess clay near the wheel head. I place a scrap of board on the wheel head, then cut the finished bell off with my wire. The piece is hoisted by wrapping my right hand over the piece, and lifting with my thumb and first three fingers.

I threw ten little bells, three for two of the rockets, and four for the last rocket, designed by Steph. Everything has been sprayed down for the night, and wrapped in plastic in our damp box.


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