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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Thumb Lamps




It started with one little Thumb Lamp that our friend Norm bought while on a visit to Israel. He asked me to make several similar Lamps so that they could be given out at a Church conference.

After many phone calls, I finally found clay that was a similar color. Then I worked the clay (wedging). This removes air bubbles that would make the clay explode in the kiln :(!!!

I practiced making the lamp top. I individually rolled and attached each line of detail.
I guessed that the lamp had to be about an inch bigger than the original because it will shrink as it dries.

The clay has to dry just a little so that it will be strong enough for me to make a lamp. I placed it on forms so that it would dry in the proper shape.

For an entire month, every single piece that I made cracked!!!
I threw them in a plastic bag and tried a gain. I must have made over a 100.

There were many late nights.

Then, I made a mold by pouring plaster over a pot that I had placed in a tinfoil lined box.


The mold worked!!!!

So, I made several. I also made a lamp-base mold.

I had been told that the clay would stick to the plaster and would not come out of the mold. I found that when I coated the mold with butter, the clay came out easily.

Yayyyy!!!!!! This one looks good.

The clay sits in the mold until it is slightly dry (leather hard), then I can remove it.

Too dry: it will crack. Too wet: it won't hold its shape. Very delicate!

I work on the lamps during the day. Every night, I wake up in the middle of the night to check clay dampness, and to work on the pots. Then, I go back to bed.

Now, I can make lamps.

Here I am trimming the edges off a top, after pulling it out of the mold.

I prepare the edges and put liquid clay (slip) on them so that the top and bottom will stick together.

Everything has to fit together nicely. Next, I will add the handle.

After the assembled lamps had rested and dried a bit, I cut a hole for the wick.

Now, any little bumps and imperfections need to be carved off (cleaned.) Each pot will be cleaned for 45 minutes to an hour.

I carved trees on the pots that were my own particular design.
Lots of cleaning.

Through out this project, I have been washing my hands in a bowl of water because the clay would stop up the sink.
The water is poured in the back yard.

My lamps are looking good!!!!

I check them regularly to make sure there are no cracks.

Clay cracks easily, so it must dry slowly and evenly.

Finally, the big day arrives!!! After weeks of phone calling and asking every one I know, I have found a kiln! Days before the conference, Larissa Chadwick kindly fired the lamps at the Blacksburg YMCA's brand new ceramic facility.

The day to pick up my lamps comes. For the first time, I hold the completed lamps in my hand...they look really good to me!

They came through the process without any cracks. Amazing!!!

We deliver the pots to the Princeton Calvary Chapel conference.

Dressed in a Jewish robe and yamaca, Norm holds his new Jewish thumb lamp for the first time.

This is why I create art.

Each family at the conference received a lamp to encourage them to be lights in the world.

There were applause :)

Moments like this mean a lot to me. I love to create:)

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