Hand Painted Pottery with Animal and Dog Art by Nan Hamilton Boston MA

How the Dachshund Vase Was Made

I thought it might be amusing to make a tall narrow vase with Dachshunds around the pot so their tail met their nose when their circle around the pot was complete. When I worked with the idea, it seemed that there wouldn't be enough heads to make the pot interesting (all those long bodies!), so I decided to use two dogs per layer. I wanted the dogs to sort of pop off the pot, a look that can be achieved effectively using porcelain slip over black clay. I threw a tall straight form in black stoneware. The next day when the pot was partially dry, I trimmed the pot to make the foot.

It is important to apply the porcelain slip (a liquid form of clay) when the pot is as damp as possible. There is stress between the slip and the leather-hard clay. If the clay gets too dry before the slip is applied, the slip will crack or peel off. Also, clays can have different shrinkage rates which can cause tension leading to cracks, even the pot splitting in pieces after the final firing. This black clay is a fussy clay so using this technique with it is always a risk. I wrapped the pot in dry-cleaner plastic to keep it as damp as possible while I worked out the design.

I took a piece of tracing paper the height and circumference of the pot, then drew out the design flat, frequently making the paper into a tube to get the ends to meet correctly and see how much of each dog was visible around the curve of the pot. Then I wrapped the paper around the pot and traced through the paper, the pencil mark leaving a light indentation on the clay. After removing the paper, I painted latex resist around the dogs, using the indentations as a guide.

I painted the pot with porcelain slip with a soft brush, going over and over the surface until I had built up a thin layer of clay. In a short time, the porcelain was firm and I peeled away the latex. Next, I cleaned up the edges of the dogs with a sharp tool. When the pot was dry, I fired it to cone 08.

I poured a dachshund-colored glaze inside the pot to get the interior glazed and the pot was ready to paint with underglazes. After the painting was complete, I once again covered the background clay with latex resist to isolate the black clay from the transparent glaze. The pot was dipped in transparent, the latex peeled off, the pot cleaned up and it was ready to be fired.

Here's how the pot came out. The contrast between the bright glistening of the transparent glaze and the stoniness of the clay, one of the things I like best about the pot, doesn't really show well in the picture. There was one loud ping about an hour after the pot was removed from the kiln, something that is caused by stress between the clays. I haven't found any resultant crack and the pot has been silent since, so I hope the pot will hold up. I'm still holding my breath...

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