Ceramic Buttons & Pins


One the best parts of my job is that I get to talk to creative people from all walks of life. I get to visit their studios and have fun discussions about art and craft and the compulsion to make things with our hands and how that fuels many of our creative journeys.

I spend a great deal of time recording podcasts and interviewing people for my newspaper column and independent magazine. Collecting these stories often inspires me to step outside my comfort zone of crafts involving primarily fabric and yarn and try mediums that I don’t normally work with.

As I mentioned in my last post, a recent trip to Jeff Rottman’s pottery studio inspired me to bring my family in for a quick pottery session. Jeff makes impressive dinnerware, something that’s a bit more complicated than it looks. It’s unlikely that I will ever become an accomplished potter, but I do enjoy working with clay.

On today’s “Take Five” segment I’ll be showing viewers how to make simple ceramic pins and pendants. If you want to get into the more complicated stuff, you can sign up for a workshop at Jeff’s studio (or one in your local community of you don’t live in West Michigan). He offers classes for kids and adults interested in learning how to make slab and coil creations. Check out my last post for details on his Valentine’s pottery workshop for couples.

Here are some photos of my latest batch of buttons and pins that Jeff fired for me. I’ll post the TV clip from today’s segment after the show.

Since glazes change color when fired in the kiln, it’s always surprising (to me at least) to see how the pieces turn out. (See the photo in my previous post for the pre-firing shot.) I bought my glazes and a couple small tools from Karla Von Ceramics, 10580 Northland Drive, in Rockford, Michigan where owner, Kitty Herrema gave me some helpful tips. (I would have completely forgotten to buy the clear glaze without the reminder.) I ended up making a bunch of heart shaped pins and wish I would have thought to buy pink or red glaze. Ah, well.

I really like making these little pieces out of white clay and often think how great it would be to own a tiny kiln to fire buttons and pins. But I’m not ready for that kind of commitment yet. Maybe some day.

Do any of you own a kiln? Are you glad you do? What do you fire with it? What do you think I should do with all my new pins and buttons?

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