Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ceramic bell handbuilding.

My first foray into a short lesson using still images in a blog setting. If something is confusing or you're dying to see more images of a particular step let me know. This lesson is only through the greenware (unfired) stage of the bell shape itself.

100 bells!
I do like the sound given by ceramic bells, so am creating some delicate ringers for the holiday season.
The bell I'm demonstrating below is without texture, but you can add texture right before cutting out the circle in step 1 or just before you roll it into a cone, just after step 7, though that will distort your dimensions.

The clay I'm using is Seattle Pottery Supply's cone 6 Porcelain called CKK6.

Step 1: Use a rolling pin to flatten approx 1/4 lb. blob of clay to 1/8" thick. I'm rolling onto porous and flexible canvas.

Step 2: Using a 4-1/2" lid as your template, cut out circle using a needle tool.

Step 3:
Fold circle in half, crease the seam, and gently tear in half. Store one of the halves under plastic while you work with just one at a time.

Step 4: With rolling pin, flatten about a 1/4" of the straight edge.

Step 5: Brush slip along one half of that top edge. I use a toothbrush to simultaneously roughen the edge for better grip.

Step 6: Form 1/2 circle into a cone shape, tucking the slipped edge underneath the other edge as it comes around.

Step 7: Gently pinch the overlapping edges together to close the circle

Step 8: Flatten the top point of your cone shape by squishing the point with your fingertip.

Step 9: Using balls of varying sizes (exact sizes not important, but you can see the sizes I use here) on sticks we're going to shape the bell. You can also keep the basic cone shape you have here and skip to step 13.

Step 10: insert smallest ball into cone, "swish" it around the inside to start to stretch the "shoulder" of the bell.

Step 11: Move onto the next bigger ball, insert and stretch to shape the belly of the bell.

Step 12: Move onto the last and biggest ball. This ball helps to finish off the "hem" of the bell's "skirt". I tuck the clay hem very gently around the midsection of the ball. I don't want to lock the ball into the clay.

Step 13: Using a needle tool, drill a hole in the flattened top of the bell. Don't make it too tiny as you'll need to thread a string through that hole when you go to add the clapper and ribbon handle (next lesson! stay tuned for that).

Step 14: Set it aside to dry until it's ready to fire.


terraworks said...

Wonderful! This was very informative- LOVE the results!

dsmorris said...

Thanks for sharing this!

Dancing Dolphin Pottery said...

Fantastic! I can't wait to try it! Love your shapes and textures! Waiting for next lesson!

ginny said...

Oh Barb, fabulous tutorial! I think my 17 year-old niece would love to come over to my studio and try her hand at making some bells like yours --- thanks so much for sharing :D!

barb jensen said...

Great tutorial! Why fold and crease and tear the circle? Is there a reason that you don't simple cut it in half with a needle tool?
Looking forward to part two!

HeidiMCF said...

Wow! Great post and great pics!

Morrigae said...

i am so intrigued by this demo that i suggested it to the studio manager yesterday. on thursdays there is a demo and "play time" for non mudders. this wd be ideal for them w/the holidays around the corner. i'm looking forward to trying it myself. i don't do the holidays, but they'll be great conversation pieces.


Mariana said...

THat was a great tutorial Easy to follow and clear! Love your work!


Meier & Frank Merchandise Co. Inc. said...

I love hand made creativity like this. I think it could be easily make because you explained it here very well and would be best for my collection.

Unknown said...

Does anyone know what kind of clay is being used in this demo?

Barbara Dunshee said...

Good question!
I will add this to the description as well. The clay I used is a Seattle Pottery Supply, cone 6 Porcelain called CKK6. Good for throwing and handbuilding, translucent when thin and good sound.
Thanks for asking!