Making a slab-built bonsai pot in a demo

Dale Cochoy

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Two of the types of workshops and demos I do are pottery related. I love doing club pottery making workshops where the members all receive some pottery making instructions and then they 'dive in' and make their own pots. I return home with their pots for drying and refinement and firing and then return their finished pots to the club. Everyone always seems to have a good time and I am always amazed at the quality of some pots produced in these workshops, especially considering the limitations in what the members can get accomplished in that type of setting.

The second type of program I do is to build a slab pot the same as a finished one I bring for the club to auction off to the demo's attending members.

Last January 2007 I did a workshop and demo at the Rochester, NY club and brought this pot as the pot they would auction off.
I then built the same style/size pot using the same methods. I return home with the finished pot and dry and glaze it at a later time.
 

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Dale Cochoy

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The logistics of doing this demo can be a bit tricky.

First I have to roll out all the sheets of clay I am going to need beforehand ( usually the day before) and carefully cover/uncover them so that they are the perfect state of 'leather hard' at the time of the demo.
Once the demo starts I will score the sheets of clay using the templates for the sides and feet. I then cut out all the pieces I will need. You will see this in the first two photos.

BTW, these shots were taken by Bill Valavanis as I was working during the demo.
 

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Dale Cochoy

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In the next three photos you will see how I have cut out the bottom for this pot. I then lay-out and cut drain/wiring holes. Then the bottom is attached to the box side which has been 'squared up' during assembly. I use slip to attach the sides and bottom during assembly. 'Slip' is basically a 'cement' made from the same type of clay being used. It is soft and more liquid than the clay as supplied or that is used on the pieces being assembled. It is about the same consistancy as tooth paste. Basically, you can consider it's function the same as mortar used in brick laying.
 

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Dale Cochoy

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In the next two shots I am smoothing my seams, removing excess slip and have reinforced the sides and joints to the bottom using rolled out 'snakes' of soft clay which are layed onto the joint and then smoothed out.
 

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Dale Cochoy

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In this next shot you will see I have installed the feet ( which I was cutting out in the second photo shown). feet are attached with slip and then cleaned-up around the joints.
 

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Dale Cochoy

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If you look back to the pictures of the pot I brought as the auction pot you will see that it has a rail around the top which nicely matches the rail at the bottom ( created by the bottom piece). One of the most time consuming parts of this build is to lay-out, cut and attach this rail. It has to be fairly precise! As the weather was very bad, and time running short, I improvised with a different type of top rail. I rolled out some 'snakes' of soft clay and attached them to the top of the pot walls. Then I used a tool to introduced a texture ( or design) into them . I also reproduced this texturing on the bottom rail. This method of doing the top reduced the construction time by about 45 mins-one hour.
 

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Dale Cochoy

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Lastly, you see a photo of the finished high-fired pot that was glazed with one of my own ash glazes.
I hope you enjoyed this little demo photo essay.
Regards,
Dale
 

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agraham

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Lastly, you see a photo of the finished high-fired pot that was glazed with one of my own ash glazes.
I hope you enjoyed this little demo photo essay.
Regards,
Dale
I did ,Dale.Thanks for an informative post.

andy
 

Jay Wilson

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Nice demo Dale.
One day, if I ever have any trees that are worthy, I'll have some of your pots.

Thanks for the post.
 

Dale Cochoy

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I'm Still making pots!
You can follow me on FACEBOOK at pages DALE COCHOY or WILD THINGS BONSAI STUDIO, also on The Internet Bonsai Club "Pottery" forum.

D.
 

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