Tag Archives: Allen’s Lane Art Center

Clay Cubes

I made these clay cubes in my studio clay class in late winter (early in 2020). They are not boxes, nor are they useful. They are just cube sculpture, about 2-3 inches on each side.

They can be stood on their sides or lie on their backs with the patterns on the upper side. Whatever you like.

Stoneware clay, fired at cone 6, various glazes, early 2020.

Here are some individual shots. I enjoyed making the various raised patterns.

Embossed Tiles

Here are two clay tiles I made in my studio clay class in early 2020.

I rolled out a slab of clay and stamped the various designs into it. These stamps were ones that I had made myself. How did I do that? Well, I formed tiny sculptures with raised or incised patterns on them and then I bisque fired them. Then I could use them to press into clay as I did here.

Some of these stamps were simply tiles, and others resemble cylinder seals of antiquity. To use the latter you roll it along, and it makes a continuous pattern in the clay.

To glaze them, I applied various washes or glazes over one another. Primarily I dip glazed the tiles, rotating them as I put different sections into different glazes. As you may remember, glazes are chemical soups, and combining them is not like combining paints, where you can predict the outcome. Instead, the chemical combination of two glazes can give unexpected and surprising results. Which I like!

Tiny Tiles

These tiles are the end of the work I have to show you that I did at my studio clay class that I attended in fall 2019 and winter 2020.

I made the little people by collaging clay on top of a slab. The small tile was made with one of my personally-created stamps.

Both of these were dip glazed and are done in stoneware clay fired at cone 6. They are about 2 inches each, more or less, in size.

Maybe there will be another clay studio class in my future. Time will tell me that answer to that.

A Vessel made in my studio clay class

Here is another vessel I made in my studio clay class at a local art center. It’s the first thing I worked on back in September.

Originally I wanted to make a coffee mug. It came out a little large, but if you were an enthusiastic hot beverage drinker, the more the better, right? It also had a loopy handle that I liked.

Well, in the bisque firing the handle fell off so it became a vase or something like that. All good, it didn’t really matter to me.

To create the vessel I rolled out a slab and poked it with some wooden dowels I had. Then I made it into a cylinder and added a bottom (and the ill-fated handle).

After the first firing, I dip glazed it to make three color areas. I waxed its bottom so that glaze would not adhere in that area. Then I used a gloss black and an opal glaze. I held the mug at an angle and dipped it, bottom first, into the first glaze, swished it, and then poured it out of the interior, letting it set up for a minute.

Then I rotated the vessel and, this time holding it with tongs, repeated the first step with the second glaze, overwashing an area of black glaze while covering all of the rest of the vessel.

Then the item went back through the kiln and emerged looking like this. I am showing you the three colors that emerged – black, opal, and a beautiful blue that resulted from the interaction of the first two colors. The first picture shows where the seam was made and where the handle was to go.

Here is the inside. You can really see the interaction of the colors here. You can also see that I poked out some indentations on the interior, as it just seemed to me that it might be something interesting.

Clay vase three tone 10-19 #44

Big Tall Thing I made at the clay studio class

I made this vessel in October, 2019, at my clay studio class.

To construct it I rolled out a large slab and stenciled random designs using underglaze. I made the stencils by cutting magazine papers, wetting them, and laying them on the clay, then painting underglaze over them.

I layered several colors and different shapes to make the design.

Then I squared up the clay into a large rectangle, formed it into a cylinder, put a bottom on it, and added the snaggletooth decoration at the join.

The vessel was bisque fired. Then I dip glazed it – gloss black for the inside and clear on the outside. Here it is, several views. It’s hard to get the full effect of the colors due to reflections, but I think these photos give the idea.

Standard clay #112, various underglazes and glazes, fired at cone 6.


Another tile from my studio clay class

Here is one more tile from my studio clay class. For the full explanation of how I created this and its companion tiles, look here.

This tile got short shrift in its design – I stenciled some shapes on it, meaning to add more, but I ran out of time. I sent the tile into the firing anyway and it came back with an array of blue underglazed shapes on it.

Then, I drew some circles on it in wax. That meant whatever was under the wax would stay as it was – wax is a resist material and burns off in the kiln while preventing the glazed from over taking the area.

After that, I dipped it in two different glazes, holding it by a corner and dipping it on the diagonal, then rotating it and doing it in the second color. There is an area of overlap that creates a third color.

Here is the result. Clay tile, Standard clay #112, fired at cone 6, various underglazes and glazes, wax resist @ 4″ x 4″.

Clay tile 10-19 abstract6



Two Different Classes: Two Views

As you may remember, right now I am taking a clay studio class and I am teaching a mixed class, at two different art centers. I am very lucky in that there are at least six very good community art centers within 45 minutes of my house, and three within 15 minutes. So I have choices! And I’m very grateful for that, for the knowledge I can gain and for the camaraderie of fellow artists.

Here are some photos from my two classes. First off, here is the clay studio where I have been taking a class. I arrived before anyone else last week and took the opportunity to snap some photos.

We have two rooms in this studio – one contains the kilns, work in process shelves, wheels, student storage, wedging areas, and glazes and glazing areas. Here are a couple of views of this room.

In this view you can see my little storage area for my clay and work in process (check for the red arrow). It’s pretty empty right now but I will be filling it up again today.

Allens Lane 11-19 #17

The other room is the hand-building room and contains the work table, slab roller, underglazes and other supplies. You can see where I will be sitting today – I’ve set my red bag at my seat.

Allens Lane 11-19 #8 small

I’ve been in quite a few clay studios and I think this one is well-organized and pleasant to work in.

On this particular day I prepared some tiles for glazing, similar to the ones I showed you a few days ago. Here you see the tiles with wax applied to the areas that I do not wanted altered. Next step is to dip them in the clear glaze and then I will set them on the WIP shelves in the glaze firing section, right next to the kilns.

The next day I taught another session of my mixed media class. Here is the classroom before the students arrived, with my work bag sitting on the table. I bring my own paints and canvas to each class but usually I don’t do any work of my own – it’s my role to focus on the students. But occasionally I need to step back and let them work, and that is when it helps for me to have something to work on myself – keeps me from hovering!

AAC #1 11-5-193

We were working on doing still life in mixed media. I asked the students to work on two differing views of the same arrangement. Here is the work of a couple of my students.

Each one chose the objects to be depicted and arranged them, then got to work. These pieces are not finished, but the students took photos for references later on, and I think in any case these are far enough along that the momentum of the image will carry them. I don’t focus on exact representations – that is for other classes – but using the arrangement as a kind of prompt that sparks ideas.

OK, now you have a little peek into my world of taking and teaching classes!

Tiles from my studio class

As you may remember I am taking a studio clay class at a nearby art center. I’ve been learning some new things. We work in some different techniques in this class than I do at home. Some of the differences are:

  • Using clay fired at a cone 6 temperature (which is higher) rather than the low-fire cone 06 that I do at home. That means I’m using different clays and different glazes to create work.
  • Glazing is accomplished by dipping the piece in glaze rather than brushing on glaze. That means I have had to learn how to handle various clay pieces when dipping them to get the glaze to go on correctly and in patterns I like or that fit my piece.
  • Glazes are formulated for the higher temperatures the clay is being fired at and so I am learning how these glazes work singly and in conjunction with each other.
  • I’ve been using different coloring techniques even when I am using underglazes, and the studio has different underglazes than the ones I have at home.

I’m going to show you some tiles I recently made. I’ll explain how I did them and what’s different from my at-home work. All of them are made with Standard clay #112, a light tan clay with speckles, and fired at cone 6. I cut them out with a 4″ x 4″ clay cutter.

Here’s the first one. A fox-like creature.

Clay tile 10-19 fox5


I had decided to use a stencil technique on this group of tiles. That meant I cut out a shape (I used magazine paper) and wet it. I laid it on top of the tile I had just made – it was just a square of wet clay.

I used black underglaze (which can be painted on raw clay) and then pulled off the stencil. The fox is the clay color and the surroundings are black.

I put the stencil down again over the fox, slightly offsetting it. I didn’t want the curly tail to be changed, so I set a rectangle over the whole area. Then I painted white underglaze over the whole thing. It was watery and did not cover the black, which I liked.

Then the tile was fired. When it came back, I used a wax resist and covered the fox, not perfectly, but pretty good. The idea of the resist is that whatever is under it will not accept the glaze, and it will melt off in the kiln, leaving the area as it was while the rest is glazed.

I also waxed the back of the tile. It can’t have any glaze on it or it will stick to the kiln shelf.

To dip a tile, you rest it on your fingers, not grasping it, just supporting it. You go to the big bucket of glaze (I used clear) and sweep the whole thing under the surface (try not to drop it or you’ll be scrabbling the bottom for it), swish a bit, count to maybe 5, and then sweep it out of the glaze, tilting it so that the excess runs off. Stand there a moment until it stops dripping, then clean the waxed area of excess glaze. It’s ready to be fired.

By the way, the clear glaze is not a translucent runny liquid but is instead a beige gloopy substance. The tile looks like it has icing on it when just glazed.

Here is the tile again. Now you can see the effect of the glaze (it darkens and makes shiny the surface) and the area left without glaze (in this case, you are looking at the clay body itself.)

Clay tile 10-19 fox5

I’ll show you some others I did in this same session. Here is a little round guy. I glazed some areas and some I left with the underglaze surface. The speckles are from the clay body, showing through the thin white underglaze.

Clay tile 10-19 round animal2

Here is a person holding a mysterious ball. The person and the ball are glazed – the background is not. That means I put wax all around the figure. I did not try to come right to the edge of the person, so that is why there is a black line around him of glazed background. That is what I hoped would happen.

Clay tile 10-19 man holding a ball3

Here is a tile made with the same stencil, but flipped. The hand and arm were detachable, so I moved them into a different position.

The background is striped in glazed and waxed sections, the waxed ones remaining matte. The person is also glazed.

Clay tile 10-19 man with a pale hand1

Here is a quizzical guy. He is left matte and the background glazed around him. I also made some wax “bubbles” in the area to the right, which left dull spots in the shiny.

Clay tile 10-19 quizzical man4

OK, that’s it for now. More coming.


Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending October 5

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Art every day and all week.

Saturday, September 29 – This afternoon we took a trip to the Ceramic Shop in Norristown, PA. I needed some underglazes. This store is always a treasure trove. I worked my way past the shelves of glazes:

AD 9-29 (9)

…stopping to look some over, for future projects, before I came to the Velvet underglaze display and chose my items.

AD 9-29 (8)

After that I wandered around the store a little. As always, I am fascinated by the huge array of tools that can be used in clay work.

Here is a sample board showing various clay bodies sold here. Different clays fire in different temperature ranges and are additionally of different consistencies – some very smooth, some gritty. It all depends on your purpose as to what clay you chose to work with. Additionally, each clay can be fired within a range of temperatures – the different samples show the same clay fired at various levels. As you can see, this display is very useful in choosing clay.

AD 9-29 (3)

Here you see a selection of kiln shelves. Since each firing requires the shelves to be configured to fit the clay work being fired, there are a lot of choices.

Here is a display of pyrometric cones. You may remember me as describing a clay item as being fired at “Cone 06” or that kind of thing. Before computerized controls, each firing required the use of a pyrometric cone, created to be specific to a firing temperature, which was designed to bend or slump when the correct temperature was reached (you needed to view the cone through the peephole in the kiln wall).

These cones are still used today, even in computerized firings, for a variety of reasons – to make sure a certain item gets to the correct temperature, as kilns can have hot or cold spots; or to check that the kiln’s controls are accurate, for instance. I don’t use them, as my work is not that temperature-specific and my kiln has computerized controls – but obviously lots of people do. There is a large display of them here.

AD 9-29 (10)

Sunday, September 30 – My husband and I went to a play this afternoon at Allen’s Lane Art Center. You may remember other productions we’ve seen here – it’s a small theater and the seating is cafe style. This show was lightly attended, being a Sunday matinee, and we got a place right up on the edge of the stage.

AD 9-30 #104

I got out my trusty sketchbook:

AD 9-30 #203

but I didn’t have much time for drawing the audience as I usually do here, because I was downstairs for some time chatting with my friend Lisa, who runs the box office. Just saying. Anyway, here are a few quick things:

Monday, October 1 – I fired up the kiln. It may look like it’s just sitting and doing nothing, but that number on the front means it’s 1200+ degrees F inside. And that’s not the whole story – it will go up to about 1830 degrees…

AD 10-1 #103

Let me back up a little. I forgot about these. Remember when I went through that box of little scraps last week? I pulled out some that I wanted to color. I’ve spent some of the last few evenings doing just that with my markers. I’ll figure out what happens next soon.

Back to today. I felt like slapping a little paint on a surface. I got out one of the 18″ x 24″ 1/8″ thick masonite boards I recently bought, as well as two of the 11″ x 14″. They have already been gessoed in black. I started working away. We’ll see what happens. I remind myself that the large board cost $3.50. I have nothing to lose.

Tuesday, October 2 – I opened the kiln.

AD 10-2 #111

I was happy to see everything sitting in its place, nothing blown up, nothing fallen over. There is a variety of objects and tiles in this load. Tiles -(commercially made terracotta base):

AD 10-2 #210

Sgraffito tiles – made from terracotta that I rolled out myself. I realized after I’d done them that they are only 1/4″ thick, and these days I like 3/8″ – but I was using up already-rolled clay, that’s why. Anyway, all good.

AD 10-2 #409

Various figurines:

and remember this vessel? It came through the firing well – no seams opened up. I think I will do a little work on sanding some rough areas, and I’ll clean up the rim with a better black coat around it. Then I need to decide – will I glaze just the inside or the whole thing? Because for it to be functional the interior (at a minimum) must be glazed or it will not hold water.

Then there was this little stray tile…

AD 10-2 #1003

After congratulating myself and the clay items for completing a safe trip through the firing, I decided to go upstairs and work on that painting thing I’ve got going on. Today, I decided, would be ink day. I pretty much stuck to adding only India and acrylic inks to the picture, though I did put some more paint on, too.

AD 10-2 #1201

Where is this thing going?

Thursday, October 4 – First, a few more of those ink drawings turned colorful.

Ink drawings colored with markers 10-18 (4)03

I worked on the large painting. It continues to progress. Then I brought it upstairs to sit in front of me and let itself rest for a while.

I worked a little on the small painting, too. Really, all I did was to decide to turn it the other way around and to outline the person in ink, but…it’s still something…

AD 10-4 #206

Friday, October 5 – I brought the recently fired clay into the laundry room/face painting venue to start the coloring process.

AD 10-5 #103

Using Jet Black Velvet underglaze, I did my usual routine: paint the faces and other relief details in black and then wash off, leaving the color in the crevices.

AD 10-5 #202

I got the whole gang done and set them on my work table. Next step: giving them a black coating all over their bodies to form the base for the bright colors I plan for them.

AD 10-5 #301

I may do that this afternoon. Or I might work on that painting. Or I might sit on the sofa, watch TV, and finish up odds and ends of art tasks and paperwork. I don’t know. So I’ve decided to cut off this week’s Diary entry here. I’ll post this afternoon’s work (if I do any, as there is always option #4: I might just lie on the sofa and read) tomorrow. Happy end of the week!

OK, that’s it for this week! Thank you for coming along with me.