Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Knobby Question

With the new counter tops in my kitchen I have a new color scheme.
The colors used to be blue and white and yellow.
I liked to think of them as "Provencal" colors. Kind of. There was certainly nothing else very French or "Provencal" about my kitchen.

I had a set of canisters that I made years ago in blue and white.
The new counter tops are granite brown and black.

Last year in anticipation of new counter tops and a new color scheme, I made a set of dinnerware for us. It was the first time in twenty five years of making pottery that I made myself a whole set of dinnerware.

The set is a mix and match of three glazes and I really like it. For me that is saying a lot. There is not a lot that I make that I really like. I seldom achieve the goals and results that I aspire to achieve. I don't know why that is. Why can I so seldom please myself with my work?

An example of that is that I made a new set of canisters with these glazes and didn't like them so I got rid of them.

So I still need to make a set and today I spent some time in the studio playing around with ideas.

First I needed to decide what type of jar I wanted. There are two types of rims to use. On the left is a rim with a lid "seat". This is the kind of jar I had with the blue and white set. The lid seat of course holds the lid in place but also catches flour and sugar or whatever is stored in the jar on those edges. The rim on the right is a cleaner edge and theoretically I would prefer it.

I made a jar with this type of rim and made the lid. The knob has to be made separately after the extra clay is trimmed off the lid. This is one deterrent to me for having a set with this type of rim and lid. I'm too lazy to have to make knobs this way.

Here is how I make a knob for this type of cannister.
(To see a video demonstration of how I make a pot, look at this post.)

First I put the jar with the trimmed lid back on the pottery wheel.
I "score", that is scratch, the spot where I want the knob to go and I brush it with liquified clay called slip that will act as a kind of glue.

I do the same thing to a wad of clay that will be the knob. I score and slip it.

I firmly attach the wad of clay to the lid.

Then I begin turning the knob which is actually called "throwing".

This is the shape that I came up with for the knob.

And this is the final cannister.
It's okay. I don't love it though and I don't want a whole set in my kitchen.

Despite the fact that the other style of rim catches extra flour and such, I'm still stuck on it as my favorite.
So I made another jar in this style and played around with different knob looks. I enjoy making these types of lids. The lid and knob are thrown at the same time. The knob is not a separate process.

This is #1. Like a toy top.

#2 A chess piece. The Bishop?

#3 Another chess piece. The pawn.

And #4. Do The Twist.

Should I settle on one knob? Or should I make a set of cannister jars that are alike but each has a different knob? Do you have a favorite? I'd love some input.


  1. I'll have to say it again. You are so talented. Beautiful.

    The first pot you don't like is gorgeous. I would prefer the lid seat though. And since that wasn't your question...

    The first knob - the toy top is my favorite. I'd be scared I'd break off a tall knob. Of course that wouldn't be a concern of yours since you could fix it.

    Do your children have pieces that you make them? Do they request you make them items?

  2. Okay... so I actually really like the one you don't like, so you can send it to me.

    As for your question, I think an eclectic collection of knobs would look cool. But then, maybe that would look like you couldn't make up your mind. If I had to pick one, I would say the twisty one.

    Southern Gal- I've never really been able to make requests for pottery (though I've tried...) but I do have a collection of "junk" pottery-- mostly pots with flaws that Mom couldn't sell. I have some unflawed things, too. I love and use them all, flaws or no.

  3. The kids can request from what is already made and Katie has done that numerous times! Katie has mountains of pottery and the boys do have some. None of them have requested that I make something in particular but then again, they just recently became adults with their own places.
    I have also recently started putting "good" pieces, gallery type work, away on a high shelf for any future progeny (or my kids, whoever) to have.
    And just so everyone knows, anything and everything is for sale. If you see something you are dying to have, or want to place an order- email me!

  4. I love the one you don't like. At first I didn't like the shape too much but when you added the knob and the design, wow. I think having all different knobs would be cool. My MIL throws clay also, we do get a few pieces here and there. I have tried to request things but I have never gotten anything that way. I definitely think it is a creative process and the artist must want to do a piece and have the inspiration to do the work.

  5. I just want to say that it is really helpful to me to get comments -critical ones too- because mostly I just do my thing and am very self-critical. It is interesting and helpful to me to hear when someone likes something and why or why they don't like it.

  6. These are amazing. Such talent. I would go with different knobs for each jar. It would be a good way to remind yourself what was in it. And again, great work.

  7. I like #1 and #4 the most. I have one of your "flawed" pieces and have never been able to find the "flaw"!

  8. Yeah, I do have mountains... :-P

    Now that I think of it, I did request the teapot and those little bowls when I saw them and later got them because "they didn't sell." And I love them and use them every day!

  9. Yeah, you only got them because they "didn't sell". Not because I like you or anything.

  10. I think you should go with all the knobs. They are all so beautiful, but my favorite is #1.

  11. I like the idea of different knobs - it adds a touch of whimsy to the set. But that being said, I don't really like the "chess pieces" that much. They seem too ... I dunno - functional? Maybe? The toy top and the twist are awesome and fit together in the whimsical style. If you want them all to match, I vote for the toy top.
    I love the one you rejected. The pattern is beautiful. But then again, that depends on what else is in your kitchen. I'm not big on too many contrasting patterns even if I do like the idea of different knobs. I do think the second set looks good with the new dishes... depending on how you color them.
    Do your canisters seal? Do you add a gasket or some such? If I were to use unsealed canisters in my kitchen there would be ants invading overnight.

  12. hey Pam, spending some unwarrented time on the confuser..When I cook I'm in a hurry and I like things easy... so I like things that fit and are round...I would want a smooth round knob and of good size. but I was thinking I like whimsy too so what about acorns and such for yours? i would do shells my self...so much fun..

  13. My fav is the one you don't love! And the twisty-knob one, since I've never seen it before.

  14. Thanks for your comments!

    It's interesting that the knobs I like the best are #1 and #4 and that seems to be the opinion of the majority too.

    Seren Dippity- my jars don't have a seal but when I made some for a friend who was in California, she had fitted cork lids in them for the same problem.


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