A thank you card from my friend Peggy became the inspiration for my blue pottery with white flowers. I can’t remember what Peggy was thanking me for, but I’ll always be grateful. The image of branches in silhouette was my starting point. Later I added leaves that morphed into flowers.

I use a technique called wax resist. It is like batik, but instead of working on fabric, I use white porcelain clay thrown on a potter’s wheel. After the piece is dried completely, it is bisque fired at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, a low temperature for porcelain. It is then dipped in a clear glaze. When the glaze is dry, I paint the design on the pot with green wax. I like using green wax because it allows me to see what I’m doing.

 

After painting the branches with the wax, I wipe my brush with newspaper to remove the excess and then press it against the pot to create each flower. The shape of the pot determines where I put them. When the wax dries, I dip the piece in a black glaze. It is mesmerizing watching the black glaze flow smoothly over the wax, leaving the clear glaze below unblemished.

 

Thanks to the marvels of glaze chemistry and the presence of cobalt in the black glaze, when the piece is fired again, this time to 2400 degrees Fahrenheit, the black glaze becomes a beautiful, shiny midnight blue. The flowers, protected by the wax, remain the brilliant white of the clay. Although I use the same basic pattern, each piece is one of a kind.