How To Make Ceramic Spoons

I have been absent from my ceramics studio for long periods of time in the last couple of years. In some ways I just needed a change. I needed a bit of grounding inside my head and to do that I needed to get out of my creative space and go work for someone else a bit. But now I am coming around again – looking at things with fresh eyes and ideas for where I think I am heading with my business.

First up is my need to make some ceramic spoons. I looked up a lot of stuff on Pinterest and Etsy to see not only what people are making in clay, but also in other materials such as wood (I love the thought of carving wood – getting those nice peels and curls coming off). There are some great things out there and I wanted to see from my own sense of feel and use – how to design some of these spoons.

Basic Spoon Shaped Templates

Basic Spoon Shaped Templates

Three of the designs I drew out are meant to be spoons, one is more like a tea bag holder or spoon rest (still not settled on that completely).

Cutting out basic spoon shape.

Cutting out basic spoon shape.

I rolled my paperboard onto a clay slab and cut out the spoon shape.

Adding another slab for the bottom layer of the press mold.

Adding another slab for the bottom layer of the press mold.

I then added another layer of clay to give the spoon a bottom (I have since made another series of slab molds which have yet to be fired and tested).

Cleaning up the press mold.

Cleaning up the press mold.

As these press molds set up, I went in and rounded out the edges and made sure there were no undercuts.

Bisque kiln done and press molds ready to use.

Bisque kiln done and press molds ready to use.

At the “that is as good as these get, I need to STOP touching them” phase, the press molds were dried flat (slowly) then bisque fired to Cone 04.

First ceramic spoon prototype tests out of the press mold.

First ceramic spoon prototype tests out of the press mold.

To make the actual spoons, I tried two techniques: soft slab pressed into mold and coil pressed into mold. Both worked ok, so it is really what is going to work best for me. I then used some of my handmade bisque stamps to press in the designs into the top of the spoon (just imagine the possibilities!!!).

First tests out of the press mold. Going to see how the glazes look on these.

First tests out of the press mold. Going to see how the glazes look on these.

The newer molds I made will allow for a slightly thicker spoon that has a bit more allowance for a curvy area at the end. And I need to figure out how to keep track of having my designs stay a bit more centered.

Snow covered trees outside the studio.

Snow covered trees outside the studio.

And all of this is happening in the warmth of the studio while outside it looks like a winter wonderland.

I’ll be posting photos on Instagram and my Marsha Neal Studio FB page as I am working on these. If you want to know when they might be available, sign up to get my newsletter.

Delaware Fun A Day 2016 Progress

Delaware Fun A Day is a great project that I have now participated in for two years.

I love that it is a way to light a fire under ones creative tush to make something every day for the month (this year it is January 2016 – 31 days = 31 items made). I decided to work from where I have been recently in my transition between working with ceramic clay in bead and jewelry making and learning about wool dying and blending of colors through my part-time work at the Sarafina Art House.

Not to mention all of the cool artists that are participating! You get to expand your creative artist group by participating in events like this!

I should have been blogging about this all along, but my MarshaNealStudio Instagram seems to be my preferred instant sharing these days (blog posts require way more work). So here is where this adventure started: at work back in October 2015.

Locks are wetted down then added to pots of colored water to dye them.

Locks are wetted down then added to pots of colored water to dye them.

After the curls and locks are colored, they have to be dried to store them.

After the curls and locks are colored, they have to be dried to store them.

This is something I am learning to do through SarafinaFiberArt and these are my first attempts at dying what I call “Zombie Locks” because they are cut short, a bit discolored, and contain some bits of vegetable matter and some other things from the barn yard. My goal was to make some needle felted zombie ornaments for my sister for Christmas, and all of the other locks I had were just too pretty and nice. I needed something that looked like it belonged on a decomposing corpse. These are a bit too pretty too, but when there was some matted v.m. or beetle parts – it was like a bonus!

Fast forward to December & time to sign up for Fun A Day 2016. I decided I wanted to make some wet felted “vessels” of some sort. Was not quite sure if I was going to make various shapes and colors, but I wanted to try it out then find my focus.

Foam shapes cut out to experiment with wet felting with resists to make hollow forms.

Foam shapes cut out to experiment with wet felting with resists to make hollow forms.

Results from wet felting first try with various fibers and shapes. Not so great, but there is potential!

Results from wet felting first try with various fibers and shapes. Not so great, but there is potential!

I decided that I liked the triangle form and that they would easily be hung, just as I do with my ceramic vessels – with a wire wrapped handle. So I set off to figure out exactly what I wanted to do.

To figure out the color palette, I decided to pull out my Zombie locks, then start mixing Merino wool from Sarafina to see what colors I could get.

To figure out the color palette, I decided to pull out my Zombie locks, then start mixing Merino wool from Sarafina to see what colors I could get.

Here is a photo of me using the Sarafina Hand Carders and pulling the merino across to blend it. It is an arm workout!

Here is a photo of me using the Sarafina Hand Carders and pulling the merino across to blend it. It is an arm workout when making over 50 colors!

Custom blended merino wool colors. I just love this part!

Custom blended merino wool colors. I just love this part!

As I worked on the custom blends I was also taking time to match up the Zombie locks with the custom blended Merino.

As I worked on the custom blends I was also taking time to match up the Zombie locks with the custom blended Merino.

As this process lasted all of January, my cat Peeves was quite insistent that she got to be in the middle of it at times. I love those curls too Peeves!

As this process lasted all of January, my cat Peeves was quite insistent that she got to be in the middle of it at times. I love those curls too Peeves!

Once the color palettes were sorted, it was time to begin to work on the 31 objects for the Fun A Day opening (if you have not guessed – the 31 objects are representational of 31 days of being creative. There are days into weeks where all that was done was blending colors. My work is about the process as much as making the work.

Laying out the Merino and beginning to wet felt the cones over a foam triangle.

Laying out the Merino and beginning to wet felt the cones over a foam triangle.

The locks were added when layering the merino and the entire piece was rolled and wet felted.

The locks were added when layering the merino and the entire piece was rolled and wet felted.

After the felting process was done, and the resist and soap gotten rid of, it was time to stuff them and let them dry to keep their opened form.

After the felting process was done, and the resist and soap gotten rid of, it was time to stuff them and let them dry to keep their opened form.

I worked in batches making and drying these pieces (more like 50 pieces as it is quite addictive).

I worked in batches making and drying these pieces (more like 50 pieces by the end of the month as it is quite addictive).

One of the last stages of this process was creating the hanging wire. These were created on my "Now That's A Jig" and hammered flat to hold its form.

One of the last stages of this process was creating the hanging wire. These were created on my “Now That’s A Jig” and hammered flat to hold its form.

And with that a new item is created and put into the world. They are far from being done with potential. I can completely see these being adorned with seed beads, fiber embroidery, more layers of felt. But for this project, this is where I feel I can stop. That they are finished and I have accomplished my goals of spending a bit of every day in January making a bit of art. Perfecting the colors and process to the best of my knowledge and skill set a this point in my life.

Show info:

Delaware Fun A Day 2016 will ONLY be on display from 5-9pm on Friday, February 5, 2016 at the DCCA in Wilmington, DE. 200 South Madison Street, Wilmington, DE 19801. Check out the Social Media posts: #DEFunADay or #DelawareFunADay to see current and past entries.

 

If you are interested in learning about wool, I highly recommend visiting SarafinaFiberArt.com and learning about sculptural needle felting, wet felting, 2D Wet and Needle felting through the many videos and workshops Sara provides. Then come and visit the shop in person or order supplies online if Elkton, MD is a bit too far for you to drive. You can even find some of my Marsha Neal Studio work in the Sarafina Art House Gallery and through the Artists link on their website.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read up about this process and enjoying art!

You can find my work through my Marsha Neal Studio Etsy shop and at some point, when I get organized better, my website!

Bead Fest Philly August 2015

It has been a number of years since I myself have sold my work at Bead Fest Philadelphia.

In fact, it was 6 years ago because I was pregnant with my son.

I have picked up an Artist Table (570A) around the Artisan Alley section of the show and will have some great new stuff.

Marsha Neal Studio Booth 570A. D7 Studio Booth 366.

Marsha Neal Studio Booth 570A. D7 Studio Booth 366.

Darlene from D7 Studio (booth 366) has her booth and will have lots of my beads at her table.

Marsha Neal Studio Work for BeadFest

Marsha Neal Studio Work for BeadFest

I will have my new bracelet kits, and more of my sculptural work with me.

So make sure to swing by both while you are cruising the show!

Print this pass and pay $5 for your Bead Fest Weekend Pass!

Print this pass and pay $5 for your Bead Fest Weekend Pass!

Glazed Ceramic Beads

I am beyond  delighted with how these last few bead glaze 5 firings have been coming out. Lots of new color ways…  

I love this above cinnamon glaze.

  

And the abundance of finished beads for the Bead & Button show in a few days is exciting!

  

But sometimes in the studio I get to see pretty things that disappear into more solid things and I wanted to share a pretty moment of mixing glaze colors (Mayco Stroke and Coat) to make a new glaze color.

  

  

  

  

Above is the finished color all mixed and a finished, fired bead. You can see it loses the powdery pastel of the dried glaze.

  

These are just about to go into the final pre-show glaze firing.

  

Above are my 13+ year used Roselli bead trees. I love the patina they have achieved over the years…

 

And above is a pic of what a just opened post-firing full of finished beads (cone 5 is around 2230 degrees F – which takes about 8 hours to reach, then 16 to cool back down). 

Check out my Instagram and Facebook for kiln firing opening pics 🙂

Firing Ceramic Beads

 With the Bead and Button Show (Milwaukee, WI) right around the corner I have been nonstop glazing and firing beads!  

This is what I unloaded last night! 

  

Oh the colors!

  

I just love the way the glazes puddle on this chocolate stoneware…

  

It feels like Christmas opening the kiln!

  

And then there is my quality control expert Peeves our cat. I think that late at night her attitude is a bit more “Woman they look fine, now put them down and give me some scratching & petting. Dang!” 

So today I will be glazing even more!

I am pretty delighted so far and hope nothing interrupts this flow.

marshanealstudio

marshanealstudio

Ceramic Artist. Garden and Nature Enthusiast.

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