Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Ceramic Sign-Making Draws Unique Visions


Last updated 3/18/2022 at 11:57am

Michael Sadler

Pottery instructor Ginger Dunlap-Dietz holds forth on clay use and care protocols

Borrego's long-time potter, Ginger Dunlap-Dietz, now retired from official Pottery Studio duties, has finished Phase-1 of her workshop on ceramic sign-making at Borrego Art Institute's outdoor pottery at the high school. Her four students are using their imaginations to create unique display pieces. Pottery Studio Manager Jill Sullivan provided oversight and assistance to the students during the class.

Participants Donna Kelley, Liesel Paris, and Sonja McGraph, each with a unique vision in mind for their sign, began the day with a large wet slab, ¼-inch thick, of what is called "Cone-5 Stoneware Clay," where the Cone-5 designation is the kiln firing temperature of 2,167-degrees F.

Using their own sketches for the ceramic designs, they kept the slabs moist so they wouldn't dry out, and they chose either a textured or smooth clay finish, measured carefully, and cut out the shape to the desired dimension. Liesel and Sonja then drew and cut out clay figures and numbers and attached them to their base. Rather than adding figures, Donna Kelley used underglazes to paint her decoration on the clay. All this prior to setting the piece on a refrigerator rack for drying prior to glazing and kiln firing around March 18.

"When I lead a pottery workshop, it is always a learning experience for me," Dunlap-Dietz said. "Participants often have not worked with clay and have unique ideas like sculpting a figure or a number in a way I'd never tried, or applying the underglaze with unusual brush strokes. We have fun arranging design elements on the slab in unusual configurations. Thank you new clay people!"

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