Since about October last year, when I really got back into making again in my new studio, I have been trying to develop a range of mugs and jugs. How hard can that be right?........ turns out for me while using the diva of all diva clays flipping hard!
I came up with a shape and design that I really liked, it was slightly unusual but worked for me, it looks huge at first but taking into account the shrinkage that happens to porcelain, it ends up a nice drinkable size.
You can see how much it shrinks from this picture, from ball of clay to drinkable mug.
Just as I was getting excited about this new range, well the mugs at least, I ran into every problem possible. (so it seemed to me and at the time!) The body of the mug started to split, handles either cracked at the curve of the handle, where the handle joined the mug body or completely fell off during the drying process!!
I was beginning to get really despondent and there wasn't enough coffee or chocolate in the world to make it right! But at the same time, every day I was drinking out of a mug that I had made in the same style and had worked, so I knew it was possible, I just couldn't work out what was going wrong.
I started trawling through Instagram for other makers that worked in porcelain and who attached handles, turns out that most porcelain makers are throwers and 'pull' their handles or don't attach any at all!
I was determined though, I had been developing it for so long now and had shelves full of seconds and repurposed 'pen pots' to prove it. Eventually, I plucked up the courage to send a message to Jessica Thorn and Juliet from the Cloud Pottery, if you don't know their work then look them up - beautiful, both very kindly sent back messages of encouragement and offered advice and tips. one of which was adding vinegar to clay to make joining slip. I had never heard of this before and duly looked it up and to my surprise pages about it appeared on google!
So this weekend I very carefully left four precious mugs complete with handles drying in their plastic home in the workshop. Each handle has been lovingly custom made to fit each mug, slightly bending the top and bottom of the handle so it snuggly fits the body of the mug. The joining pads of each handle were the same consistency if not a little wetter than the mug body and the vinegar slip was smooth and not too thin and not too thick. (sounds like Goldilocks porridge!) Then they were very carefully placed on and pressed to give a seamless join. Oh and as you can see they were left upside down, apparently gravity helps!?! (By this point I will try anything.)
As I sit at home writing this - knowing that if I was at the workshop the temptation to open the lid of the box would be too much - I am praying that this time, I will actually have four mugs with no cracks, no splits, no handles coming away from the body of the mug. That they will be drying perfectly and there they will sit until I am absolutely sure that not one drop of moisture remains.Then all I have to do is get them through a bisque firing, sand them glaze them and through another firing, this time to 1260* ..............
The mug I am currently drinking from in the workshop and its a pretty special experience