Clay Times Back Issues Vol. 2 Issue 4 • May/June 1996 - Page 20

Jack Doherty Shares Colored Clay Techniques A dismal, rainy weekend in the nation’s capital earlier this year was transformed into a colorful splash of activity when Jack Doherty, a porcelain potter from Northern Ireland, shared his unique insights and demonstrated his techniques for working with colored clays. The well-attended weekend workshop was sponsored by the Clay Connection, a potter’s guild serving the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Doherty, who serves as chair of the Craft Potters Association of Great Britain, has been a potter for 25 years. Now residing in Hereforshire, England, he has developed a technique of working the work to achieve a series of lively, decorative patterns of color. Doherty's work has been featured in exhibitions both overseas and in the U.S., and can be found in the collections of the Cheltenham Museum, the Liverpool Museum, the Faenza Collection, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, as well as numerous others. Prior to creating each piece, Doherty colors his clay by mixing various percentages of stain with water and finely powdered porcelain. The recipe is mixed thoroughly, then allowed to dry out to the point of working consistently (which can be achieved fairly quickly by spreading out the clay on an absorbent surface like plaster or wood). Above and upper right: examples of Doherty’s porcelain works using applied colored clays, soda-fired to cone 10. with porcelain in which he strategically applies thin-cut slabs and strips of colored clays to a wet, wheel-thrown piece, then re-throws “I produce work in which the colored decoration forms part of the body of the pot,” Doherty says. “Surface quality and its relationship to form is an important aspect of my work.” Doherty's works are fired in a soda-vapor kiln, enhancing the inlaid clays with a range of sur- faces that varies from soft matte to bright and iridescent. To achieve the unique patterns of color which serve as the main source of decoration for his forms, Doherty first throws a piece on the wheel. Immediately after throwing, he applies cut-out strips, triangles, and various-shaped pieces of colored clay from thin (1/8”) rolled slabs. With the freshly-thrown pot placed on a banding wheel, each slab or strip is then carefully and gently pressed into the wheelthrown pot. Some pieces are overlapped with each other; others are draped over the lip of the pot to achieve color on the interior and exterior surface of the form. To help adhere each slab or strip to the pot, Doherty often pokes the slab into the pot’s surface with an xacto knife. Usually, all of the applied clays are attached to one small section of the wheel-thrown pot, because the re-throwing process will then fan them out to cover most of the pot’s surface. Doherty says the most impor- The Clay Connection •Networking for Potters in the Mid-Atlantic Region• Coming May 17, 18 & 19: P O T T E R Y S U P P LY C O M PA N Y Full Service Supplier and Exclusive Distributor for Geil Gas Kilns in NC, SC and VA ▼ 20 818 TROLLINGWOOD-HAWFIELDS ROAD MEBANE, NORTH CAROLINA 27302 (800) 743-2529 FAX: (910) 578-0011 “A Weekend with Richard Zakin” author of Electric Kiln Ceramics Come join us! Call for details... Membership: $28/year. Contact: The Clay Connection, P.O. Box 3214, Merrifield, VA 22116-3214 • 800-718-7999