Saturday, November 24, 2012

Deluxe Sunflower: Spinning

In developing the various designs in the Deluxe Sunflower series, I had been able to come up with quite a few designs using a slip-filled pastry bag with various decorating tips. I had also found a couple of uses for Kemper Klay Kutters. I had created three designs - Pasta, String Theory and Starry Night - using the Kemper Klay Gun and various dies but wanted to explore the potential of this tool more fully.

In browsing through the dies which come with the Klay Gun, I thought I might be able to use one of the circle dies to make long coils, which I could then make into a spiral or spirals. I thought I would first try making a piece with a large spiral covering the entire center. The challenge was going to be marrying a series of long coils into one very long continuous coil to make the spiral.

I started out by fabricating the base of the sunflower, slumping a large slab over the ginormous sunflower mold, cutting it to size with a 1/2" flange at the base. I wanted to make sure the spiral would completely fill the center space so I opted to fabricate the center first and apply the petals afterwards. After scoring and slipping the entire surface, I attached the circle die to the Klay Gun and filled the barrel with clay and pushed out the first coil, forming it into the center of the spiral, starting at the center of the sunflower. It's important that the clay be fairly plastic for this process: if it's too stiff, you have to work really hard to get it to extrude and it will be more prone to cracking during fabrication. I added coils to the spiral until I felt fairly certain that the spiral would completely fill the desired space, carefully smoothing the joins between the coils.
Kemper Klay Gun and Dies

After the coil was finished, I applied two rows of petals to the sunflower, making sure the surface was slipped to guarantee optimal adhesion. I allowed the sunflower to dry to leather hard, removed it from the mold, applied a clay fitting to take a copper fitting so the sunflower can go on a stake and put holes in to take a wire for hanging. After drying completely, the piece is fired to Cone 06.

I glazed the sunflower with Amaco's Potter's Choice Temmoku in the center, as I do for all my Deluxe and Fancy Sunflowers. For the petals, I used Starfire Brown, a glaze recipe I was given by my first pottery teacher, Gene Pluhar, which breaks and pools in almost a jasper-like manner. The glaze is reminiscent of the surfaces preferred about 30 years ago, so it contributes a nostalgic quality to the piece.

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