Vases and Vessels: Ceramic Functional Art tips, texture, glazes, slab, techniques for beginners.

When it comes to producing ceramic pieces, I don’t often lean towards producing functional items. But when I do create generic forms, I see it as an opportunity to experiment with textures and glazes. My early ceramic vase and vessels used simple modular and slab rolling techniques that all beginner ceramicists should try! This vase was built from flattened spheres lightly folded in half, pieced together on a round slab to create the base. The entire form was created and maintained as I applied each folded sphere spiraling to the top.  Super fast and easy technique to creating lots of texture!

Finding the right glaze for the right form is always a trial and error. Too thin, too thick, too dark, too shiny! The truth is, all ceramicists would recommend you make test-glaze strips. Make small slabs and put one, two, and three coats of your glaze per strip. You can also layer another glaze, play with its “pooling” behavior or whatever else you’re considering to do with the glaze. Make sure to label each test-glaze strip so you’ll know which effect to use and NEVER use on your next piece!

On this cubical ceramic vessel I used a really cool black glaze I found to have an interesting effect by happenstance. I was using white stoneware and dipped the vessel in a tub of this black glaze for approximately 4 seconds. It was thickly coated in black when I put it in the electric kiln. Once fired, the glaze pulled away from all the edges, revealing the reddish undertone you now see. Without pre-testing the glaze, that type of effect could really ruin a piece.  But in this case, it really accentuated the form, bringing it to life!