The ‘Great Pottery Bee’

15 Feb

It’s taking some time, but my pottery skills are very slowly getting to the level where I can make the things I  want to – still not especially well, but I can make them! One project I really wanted to get my teeth into was a bathroom set of a vase, a soap dish and some tealight holders, and I decided on the perfect theme.

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I love bees. The world would be a pretty miserable place without them! They are incredible creatures and I wanted to use them as the inspiration for my pottery project. In particular, I am fascinated by the geometric honeycombs they create, full of tessellating shapes and delicious sweet honey. I found a hexagon cutter on Ebay and bought it, thinking I would be able to use it as a template for some tealight holders. I rolled out a large slab of clay, and assembled 4 tealight holders in varying heights, all hexagonal in shape. Once the clay had dried and had its first firing, I used underglazes to sketch bees on the outside of the items, whilst using a honey-yellow glossy glaze to light up the inside. So far, so good!

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The next item that needed making was the vase – well, perhaps ‘vase’ is the wrong word – I basically wanted to produce a sort of basket for the bathroom for keeping bath ballistics, soaps and bath salts in. I liked the idea of the vase being similar to the tealight holders in scale, but much larger, and with additional, smaller hexagons cut out of the sides, to allow you to see the items inside.

Our pottery tutor, Colin, helped me scale up the hex for the base, and then I rolled out 6 equal rectangular slabs for the sides. After cutting the small hexes out of them, I had to leave the sides to dry out for a week, so that they would stiffen up before assembling. When drying larger items, it’s important to cover them in polythene, to allow them to dry really slowly – otherwise the items will curl as they dry, meaning the sides of the vase wouldn’t align correctly.

In pictures: My vase, finally assembled, ready for its first firing –

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First firing complete, now painted and dipped in transparent glaze, ready for the final fire

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My finished object :)

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I actually finished the whole project by November, but with it being the run up to Christmas, the kiln at the college was full almost every week, and objects that people had made as gifts had to take priority. So, my hex project became the old maid, left on the shelf for nearly a month, whilst other objects were fired. Finally, Colin said there would be room for the items, so eagerly I packed them all into the kiln and excitedly counted down the hours until the next lesson.

At that point, disaster struck! The college was badly hit in the December storms which affected the UK, especially Yorkshire, the South West and Wales. During the day, whilst students were in lessons, the wind became so strong that the roof flew off the building! Fortunately, all the students and staff were evacuated safely and no one was hurt. However, the downside was that all classes were cancelled until the new year. I’m sure the school kids were thrilled at getting 2 additional weeks off!

 

I was finally able to pick up my hex project halfway through January, and I’m delighted with how it has turned out. My favourite thing is when the tealights are lit, and the glossy yellow glaze on the interior gives off a warming, honey glow. These additions have certainly brightened up bathtime, and have inspired me to try some more adventurous projects :)   

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