My husband and I have always given the traditional wedding anniversary gifts for each year. Since ours falls on August 31st, my main project for August was making his gift, which for the ninth year is pottery. I obviously waited until he got his gift to post pictures and talk about it here. Although, I think this will be a blog where I post once a month since it’s working out that way.
So what do you make a man out of pottery? We already have pottery vases, plaques, figurines, mugs, bake ware…wow, I had no idea we liked pottery so much. So what does my husband like? My husband likes cufflinks, Liverpool, Blues guitar and golf. Now if you know that I make jewelry, what in that list jumps out at you?
I have not worked with pottery and porcelain since I took a class in high school. It didn’t even enter my mind to make something myself until I approached an artist I like to make me pieces and I was told I would have to buy something with the image I wanted so she could push it into the clay to form a counter-relief. Frankly, I can do that myself! However, I really wanted more of a carved bas-relief. At that point, I knew it might be a little out of my budget to commission another artist to make what I had in mind so I decided to see if I could accomplish this myself.
My husband is like every other Liverpudlian in their obsession with the Liver birds, which are not only sitting on top of the Royal Liver Building, but can be seen through out the city of Liverpool, England in many buildings, gates, museums, and representing the football (soccer) team. Just doing a Google image search will bombard you with images. There are several Flickr galleries devoted to this also. Here are two from Shertila Tony to inspire you: Liver Birds I and Liver Birds II.
Here’s where I have to thank a local potter by the name of Walter Hobbs, who is part of Artists on Ashley and teaches pottery at the Turner Center for the Arts. I couldn’t have made anything without access to the kilns! So with clay in hand, I started to carve. To my embarrassment, it really didn’t occur to me to even try a transfer or to use a picture and trace an outline to carve until much later. What you see here is just free hand drawn and carved by me so be nice!
The tile at the top was created so I could make cufflinks. The tile at the bottom was my Plan B in case anything broke or got damaged in the process. Walter mentioned I might want to mold the small tile so that I didn’t have to carve them individually and they would match. I’ve been wanting to try the EasyMold Silicone Putty and it seemed I would get my chance.
Here’s where I made error number two. I should have asked Walter to fire the tile before I molded it. I was a little afraid to since he would already be firing these items for me twice, so I didn’t and, of course, it broke in the mold. I was able to make a few tiles with the mold, but I had to do a bit more work carving to fix the lines from where the original broke. You can see one of the vintage cufflinks shanks I used in the top left corner of the picture. After the first firing, I glazed them and he fired them again at a very high temperature so the stoneware is very hard now.
Since I still had the tile for Plan B, I decided to mount and frame it so if my husband liked it, he could hang it in his office.
It’s a little rustic, but I like it. Another thing I learned from this process is to start with a larger piece of clay so after you carve, and the sides get a little warped, you can cut off the four sides to make them straight…and making them a standard tile size would help.
Those of you paying attention might wonder what happen to the broken piece. Maybe it’ll be a necklace. We do know a few Liverpool fans after all.