Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pillow Vases IV: Frosted

One of my favorite decorating tools in the studio is a pastry bag filled with slip with any one of the various decorating tips I've purchased over the years. I found my first "set" of decorating tools at K-Mart, when Martha Stewart still had a relationship with them - the kit I purchased (in a very nice lidded metal box) had her name on it. Since then, I've scoured cake decorating aisles at Michaels and JoAnne's for new and exciting effects. I find myself most often using star, round (of various sizes) and ribbon tips for my projects. The "Frosted" Pillow Vase designs are made using a "star" tip.

After assembling the Pillow Vase vessel form, it's often too dry to decorate right away. If that's the case, I can either re-hydrate it by draping with a damp rag and placing in a plastic bag or brush the surface with slip intermittently before adding the decoration. Once the piece is moist enough to successfully accept the decoration - moist but not so plastic that the clay will buckle at all with any pressure), I can apply whatever decoration I choose - spirals made from extruded clay, rosettes cut out from a thin slab of clay or slip decoration using a pastry bag and various tips.

For this "frosted" decoration, I use a pastry bag with a star tip. I score and then slip around the vase's opening and along its waist - the location of the join between the two parts of the vase. In the case of those tiny vases with a "pansy frog" (see two vases to the right side of the picture to the right), I mark a circle that encompasses all the openings and score and slip around it. (By slipping the scored area, the applied decoration does tend to conform to the piece more successfully.) I apply a circle of rosettes around the opening first, then around the waist, thus minimizing the risk of "messing up" the work I've already done. I'll either use my finger or a tool of some kind (doesn't really matter which), I clean the opening of any encroaching clay before setting it to dry. It's important with these pieces to make sure to sand the decorated area before bisque firing as the slip can dry into very sharp edges.

Black Cat Pottery 2014 Calendar of Events

Saturday, April 26, 2014, 10:00am-12:00n:  Clematis Pruning Workshop Long perceived as “difficult” or “temperamental”, Clematis are actually proven performers that can give years of gardening delight. Join us for a hands-on workshop to learn about the care and culture of these garden gems and specific pruning techniques and concerns for various species and hybrids. Bring your favorite (by-pass) pruners and a chair. $10 pre-paid/nonrefundable registration includes one hour of instruction, an hour of supervised hands-on experience, refreshments and a comprehensive hand-out. Pre-enrollment required, including your name and contact information in case of inclement weather. Limited enrollment. Two hours of education for Master Gardeners. Register at

May 31 and August 16, 2014 (Saturday), 10:00am-2:00pm: Annual Spring/Summer Garden Tours. Cheryl's life-long love of Clematis and her more recent obsession with native plants are both immediately apparent as you arrive at her garden. Designed as a teaching and learning space, her garden includes numerous Clematis, representing over 10 species as well as large-flowering hybrids, and over 200 species of native plants, ranging from Spring ephemerals to trees, shrubs and vines. Take advantage of this opportunity to become acquainted with some of the lesser-known small-flowering species Clematis varieties and the beauties of our native flora. Cheryl's garden was featured in the July 2009 issue of Michigan Gardener, a publication for which she also writes about Clematis and native plant topics. We will feature at least one hands-on workshop (pre-paid registration required), prints and notecards by Notable Greetings, hypertufa garden furnishings by Farmbrook Designs, Black Cat Pottery’s garden-inspired pottery and other locally-sourced creative products. We also feature a limited selection of seasonally-appropriate native plants and a butterfly release at the Summer Tour. Qualifies for Master Gardener Educational Hours. No fee or pre-registration required for the tour.

December 13, 2014 (Saturday), 10:00am-4:00pm. Join Cheryl English’s Black Cat Pottery and other Michigan artists for a day of holiday cheer. Meet the artists, enjoy holiday goodies and take care of your last-minute gift needs with handmade art for the home and garden! In addition to our garden-inspired pottery creations, we’ll be sharing our studio space with Don Schulte of Notable Greetings with his line of exquisite note cards and prints; Chris Hopp of Farmbrook Designs with his beautiful hypertufa lanterns, fountains, planters and other garden accoutrements; Glenda Hopp of So Many Colors with her one-of-a-kind hand-dyed cotton wearables; and Shelley Rothenbuhler, all made right here in Michigan! Locally made refreshments and musical accompaniment, as well as a book signing by a local author, round out the day.  Join us for some holiday cheer, get to know the artists and take care of your last minute gift-giving needs!  Bring a friend and spread the word!

Other Activities  Schedule an activity for your group or organization!

Pottery Workshops. Choose from a variety of projects for two (Original, Fancy or Deluxe Sunflower; Wall Pocket; Leaf Pocket; Applied Leaf Bowl; Leaves; Lace Bowls) or three (Hanging Bird Bowl) sessions. (Other workshop projects are available upon request.) 

Hypertufa Planter Workshop. Under the guidance of artist Chris Hopp, owner of Farmbrook Designs, make your very own unique hypertufa planter. (Advanced classes are available upon request.)

Botanical Monoprint Workshop. With the help of artist/educator Christine Laikind, make your very own unique botanical monoprint using material from the garden.

Botanical Cyanoprint Scarf or Notecards Workshop. Make your very own unique printed notecards or scarf with the assistance of artist/educator Christine Laikind, using special materials and the sun’s light.

Call or e-mail Cheryl English for additional information
or to book a private garden tour and presentation
or other activity for your group!

All events at 3903 Grayton St., Detroit, MI 48224-4003
Contact:  (o) (313) 885-3385/(m) (313) 690-3385
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