Spontaneous 07-019

R - Spontaneous Forms 07-019

The History: Share what you see and continue the story.

These somewhat abstract forms are inspired by a love of Raku fired ceramics… I was challenged when a teacher told me it would be nearly impossible to achieve a Raku finish using an electric kiln… so I read a lot on the subject of what happens in Raku firings… it turns out it’s the mistakes that define the amazing results… I focused on what caused those mistakes and used them in creating my finishes. I’m very proud of the results… especially on the porcelain.

The Technique: How I did this awesomeness!

Using slap-pull porcelain slabs, I cut one side of the slabs to leave a straight edge and folded it into a pot shape. I cut a base the size of the pot left by the wall I just wrapped. I attached the base by score and slip, and the sides with a little water where the clay overlapped. I usually made this with soft-leather hard slabs to keep the walls straighter. I smoothed out all the seams and rough edges with a wet sponge and let it all dry slowly under paper and plastic, loosely draped over it. After bisque, I poured Celadon Green glaze inside and cleaned off any drips that came over the sides. Using a bushing application, I alternated thin coats of Matte White and a glossy glaze, in this case, it appears to be Pinnell Green. It’s possible the green was tainted as we can see some blue came out during firing. I ripped off the base and upper rim, then painted on an oxide stain. It was fired at Cone 6.

The Influence: Confessions of a Plagiarist, sort of

It may not be obvious in this picture, but the look of the glaze was the main focus of these and I wanted them to look like water over stones in a riverbed. The shape was rustic and I wanted it that way. I had been enjoying books on folk art and love the beauty in simpler functional pieces.

Androids dream of electric sheep When you buy The Artist’s Stuff: Prints, Mugs, T-Shirts, Pillow, Shower Curtains, and other awesome stuff.

Books that Inspired and Influenced my Experimentation:

These are perhaps the most obvious influences, but the truth is that my influences run deep through thousands of books and works I’ve seen & read. If you have the time, you are free to visit my GoodReads library to see a fraction of the books I’ve read. These are the ones I remember, that is. Or you can visit the ever growing collection on my Pinterest account.

Electric Kiln Ceramics: A Guide to Clays and Glazes by Richard Zakin   

Working with Clay by Susan Peterson   

The Craft and Art of Clay by Susan Peterson

Slab-built Ceramics by Coll Minogue

The Art of Handbuilt Ceramics by Susan Bruce

Mastering Raku: Making Ware * Glazes * Building Kilns * Firing by Steven Branfman

500 Raku: Bold Explorations of a Dynamic Ceramics Technique by Ray Hemachandra, Jim Romberg   

500 Vases: Contemporary Explorations of a Timeless Form by Ray Hemachandra (Editor), Julia Galloway   

Masters: Earthenware: Major Works by Leading Artists by Ray Hemachandra (Editor), Matthias Ostermann   

500 Ceramic Sculptures: Contemporary Practice, Singular Works by Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott   

The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight Into Beauty by Soetsu Yanagi, Bernard Leach (Adapted by), Shoji Hamada (Foreword)   

Utopic Impulses: Contemporary Ceramics Practice by Amy Gogarty

Craft Perception and Practice, Volume 2: A Canadian Discourse by Paula Gustafson   

Craft Perception and Practice: A Canadian Discourse, Volume 1 by Paula Gustafson   

Decorating Techniques (Ceramics Class) by Joaquin Chavarria   

20th Century Ceramics by Edmund de Waal   

The Figure in Clay: Contemporary Sculpting Techniques by Master Artists by Lark Books, Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott   

Japanese Wood-Fired Ceramics by Marc Lancet   

Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century by Joe Earle   

500 Figures in Clay: Ceramic Artists Celebrate the Human Form by Veronika Alice Gunter   

Ceramic Design Course: Principles, Practice, and Techniques: A Complete Course for Ceramicists by Anthony Quinn   

Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence by Andrew Juniper   

500 Plates & Chargers: Innovative Expressions of Function & Style by Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott   

500 Pitchers: Contemporary Expressions of a Classic Form by Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott   

500 Tiles: An Inspiring Collection of International Work by Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott   

500 Animals in Clay: Contemporary Expressions of the Animal Form by Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott   

Masters: Porcelain: Major Works by Leading Ceramists by Lark Books   

500 Cups: Ceramic Explorations of Utility and Grace by Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott 

Llorens Artigas by Pierre Courthion   

Alternative Kilns & Firing Techniques: Raku * Saggar * Pit * Barrel by James C. Watkins, Paul Andrew Wandless, Lark Books   

The Teapot Book by Steve Woodhead   

Studio Ceramics in Canada, 1920-2005 by Gail Crawford

Potter’s Guide to Ceramic Surfaces by Jo Connell   

The Ceramic Glaze Handbook: Materials, Techniques, Formulas by Mark Burleson 

Fired Up with Raku: Over 300 Raku Recipes by Irene Poulton   

Isamu Noguchi and Modern Japanese Ceramics: A Close Embrace of the Earth by Louise Allison Cort, Bert Winther-Tamaki   

Modern Japanese Ceramics: Pathways of Innovation & Tradition by Anneliese Crueger, Wulf Crueger, Saeko Ito   

Potters Manual: Complete, Practical Essential Reference for All Potters by Kenneth Clark   

The Soul Of A Bowl: Don Reitz, Frank Boyden, Jenny Lind, Tom Coleman, Elaine Coleman by Contemporary Crafts Museum & Gallery

Salt-Glaze Ceramics by Rosemary Cochrane   

Robin Hopper Ceramics: A Lifetime of Works, Ideas, and Teachings by Robin Hopper    

Slab Techniques (Ceramics Handbook) by Jim Robison, Ian Marsh   

Sculptural Ceramics by Ian Gregory   

Ceramics for Beginners: Surfaces, Glazes & Firing by Angelica Pozo   

Handbuilt Ceramics: Pinching * Coiling * Extruding * Molding * Slip Casting * Slab Work by Kathy Triplett, Lark Books   

Painting on Ceramics by Kate Byrne   

The Penland Book of Ceramics: Master Classes in Ceramic Techniques by Lark Books   

Ceramics for Beginners: Animals & Figures by Susan Halls

Ceramics for Beginners: Hand Building by Shay Amber   

Ceramics – Ways of Creation by Richard Zakin   

Surface Design for Ceramics by Maureen Mills   

The Materials: Quick! Order this stuff right now, AND You too can make masterpieces!

Pottery supplies:

Clays: I’ve used mostly Cone 6 clays from Pottery Supply House:

The ones I’ve used the most are:

CONE 06 WHITE GROGGED CLAY: The Review: The grog allows you to work soft or rigid with ease. This is a beginners dream clay to use.

CONE 06 RED GROGGED CLAY: The Review: This is the least favorite to use. It fires off the red and needs specialized glazes.

WHITE GROGGED STONEWARE:The Review: Excellent clay for larger cultural pieces. It can dry to leather hard slowly enough to work over a few days and is rigid enough for the most architectural structure.

SHEBA RAKU CLAY: The Review: In it’s raw state, it is an ugly finish. It changes the chemical reaction and thus the colours of the glazes used on it. It has a finer grog in it and is a great clay for beginner hand-builders. Oddly, it loves Pete Pinel’s green glaze. Also works beautifully with matte glazes.

CONE 6 PORCELAIN: The Review: This was a challenge to use. One needed to work it faster, because if it dried too fast, it would crack. It’s elasticity while in the wet-leather hard stage was fun to play with and allowed to melting appearances. It took stains very well and loved my pure pigment glazes.

BLACK CONE 6 CLAY: The Review: This worked like a tinted porcelain. It didn’t hold glazes or stains in the way I expected and seemed to give the best results when left un-modified by glaze or stain. It held up well to being mixed with gorged clays. The shrinkage was minimal, compared to white porcelain.


These were usually private mixes from the studios I worked in. I never asked for the recipes. When I graduated to the private studio, under the mentorship of porcelain master Marie Cote, I used her clear glaze as the base for all my experimentation and mixes. It was the most robust and versatile glaze available and allowed me to mix in pure pigments and metals without runoff or kiln incidents. Make sure to ask your local supplier for a stable clear glaze and play with it.

Stains, Engobes, & Underglazes:

Most of these come from Pottery Supply House, or Sial. This is where you need to play a little.

These are the ones I’ve played with the most to make my own:

6005 – Pigment – Crimson – 125gr:

6025 – Pigment – Coral Red -125gr:

6305 – Pigment – Teal Blue – 125gr:

6300 – Pigment – Mazerine Blue – 125gr:

6385 – Pigment – Pansy Purple – 125gr:

6464 – Pigment – Zirconium Yellow – 125gr:

K648 – Pigment – Dark Green:

H378 – Pigment – Amber

R140 – Pigment – Camel Brown:

431 – White – Opaque Stain:

454 – Rust – Opaque Stain: 

476 – Black – Opaque Stain:

475 – Charcoal – Opaque Stain:

953 – Bronze:

954 – Copper

956 – Silver

958 – Blue:






You can play with Other Raw Pigments, but make sure you ask for what’s in them & if they can mix with your glazes. Certain minerals and metals will cause your glazes to crackle or drip off the surface during firing, and some may cause explosions.

Pottery Tools:

You can get these awesome starter kits:

1- niceEshop 30pcs Clay Sculpting Tools Pottery Carving Tool Set Wooden Handle Modeling Clay Tools with Pouch Bag 

2- Celendi Professional Sculpture Carving Tool Set:  The review: Both of these sets give you a vast range of possibilities for turning, handbuilding, carving, trimming, and marking.

Some of my tools come from Pottery Supply House, or Sial. Some I made myself. Marking tools really come from your imagination and almost anything can be used. You can spend a small fortune for them or make them yourself. You can get loads of materials from the dollar store to make them.

Brushes & applicators:

I found that Calligraphy Brushes & Bamboo Brushes  worked the best and I indulged in variety of big ones. They hold much more glaze and helped me achieve more uniform coatings when I wasn’t dipping the bisqued pieces. They also allowed me the finer tips for greater details when wanted.

You can easily get squeeze bottles from the dollar store, but the drip control is better with pro tools.

If you are uncertain of what to get, simply order a few or all of the following:






Note: Some of these brushes can be found at local art supply stores as well.

Miscellaneous: I also mixed into my glazes and onto the surface of my clays, asphalt, beach sand, glass beads & marbles, good, silver, & copper wire, and a variety of metal dusts. Some came from pottery supply houses, some from hardware stores, some simply found.

Warning: I don’t suggest you use any of these without supervision, or the go ahead from an experienced kiln technician or master potter. Some of these release gazes in the kiln that causes other glazes to change color, drip off the pieces, and they may even explode in the kiln. I used my knowledge of chemical reactions combined with the careful study of firing mistakes to create my results. And, I always had the benefit of masters advising me on the potential dangers.

Photoshop for Mac:  The Review: You could use the free “ MAC Photos” program or Picassa and possibly get the same results, but Photoshop offers you the flexibility of presenting yourself as a pro photographer, like no other program. There’s a reason it’s considered the best of the best, after all. So, this allows you the possibility of selling this service to others and funding more of your creativity

Apple MacBook Pro 15.4″ Laptop: The Review: You may choose to get an iMac for the bigger screen, and I couldn’t disagree with the beauty of working with the 24” screen. I picked the laptop, because of the need to be mobile and the flexibility of multi-purposing it to use for client demos. As an alternative to the weight of this model, I would suggest the MacBook Air 13”. Most of us have become accustomed to mobile device size screens and it is much easier to carry around.

Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR: The Review: My first DSLR camera was the EOS Rebel T3. This one is vastly superior to the old model. Canon has a well-deserved reputation of having top rated cameras. It requires a little play time to master it, and that time will be lessened by defining a clear idea of what you want to do with it, then jumping on YouTube for the multitude of How To videos. If you want a smaller camera to carry around, try Canon EOS M10 Mirrorless Digital Camera OR go small & powerful with the Canon PowerShot Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD & built in wifi.

Canon PIXMA MX492 Inkjet Printer: The Review: For me, this has been the easiest to us for cleaning and cartridge replacement. It works reasonably well with recycled inks and the wireless is easy to set-up. The Canon has worked best for me on ink usage. When purchasing printers, always consider the cost of ink replacement… for the most part, this is the big difference right now in printers. For big reproduction lines, it is better to outsource. For scanning, they are as good as the camera in them… this is one reason I’m a fan of Canon products. It does do a nice job on printing photos on good photo paper, and the black print is crisp and clean, provided you do regular cleanings and keep it dust free.


5 thoughts on “500 Works of Art on the Road to Your Creativity #164 – Spontaneous 07-019

    1. Thank you, Prior.
      I loved making these. Very rewarding to see my experiments turn out so beautifully and then reproduce effects. This series is what earned me a journeyman status at the school I was attending. My pottery master shortly after these introduced me to my next master potter.

      Liked by 1 person

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