40 times ....The Making of a Ceramic Poppy Seed Head
Post by Anja Penger-Onyett
Did you know that every poppy seed head is touched 40 times from start to finish? Manipulated with my hands using various pottery-tools and equipment.
Each Poppy Seed Head is individually handmade by throwing clay on the wheel and then altering and adding to the final shape.
I centre a large amount of clay and work on a bit of clay on the top (throwing of a hump).
I open the lump of clay up and throw the body of the seed head including the stem and then take a cheese-cutter to create the facets.
The seed head is taken off and left to dry until the next day to put on the crown. The leather-hard seed head is turned around, placed on a chuck and the top is attached and thrown into a bowl shape. I then sculpt the patterns on the crown.The seed head needs a support to be able to stand up during the glaze firing, so every piece gets its individual clay-support, which I can only use once as the clay shrinks together with the clay body of the piece and that can’t be repeated. The clay support ends up in the bin. This is the reason why you can see 4 little marks on the bottom of each seed head.
The pieces are now ready for the glazing process with bespoke ceramic glazes.
The glazing happens in several stages:
I glaze the bottom of the piece with a semi-gloss black glaze, because this glaze doesn’t run and it should be easy to remove the support after the glaze firing
I brush on the bronze glaze on the top of the seed head, leaving out the middle part, in which I want to put coloured glass
I dip the seed-head into the main glaze
Sometimes another glaze is being brushed on
Powders of coloured glass are added to the top of the crown
The glaze firing is up to 12800C.
After the glaze firing the support have to be taken off and the sharp edges left behind are being ground off using a Dremel tool.
The poppy seed head is now ready for display!