Totally jazzed by his foray into clay, Hurbz gave us a blow-by-blow account of his goblet's creation. We'll let him tell the story, because his obvious enthusiasm is so infectious: "I measured out some chunks of clay and wedged them to get all the air pockets out, then made some softball-sized balls of clay for use on the wheel. Slam the ball into the center (hopefully) of the wheel and start your engines. This is where it gets messy. You have to use a lot of water to keep the clay lubed up, or it'll stick to your hands. If one part is gripping and the other part is spinning, well that's no bueno.
"First, you shape the top cup part of the goblet, so it's like making a small bowl. That took a few tries before I got it looking like I wanted, but overall it wasn't too bad. Just stick your thumbs into the center of the ball and work it out and up -- so much more fun than coil building. Cut that off the bat and let it start drying some.
"After the top is made, you make the bottom handle. You have to do it upside down so you can get that nice flare at the base (which is the top when you're working on it). This part gave me a lot of trouble, just because of the narrow construction of the handle. It got unstable very easily when I was working it up. I went through about five mishaps before I finally got one I was happy with (bit of a perfectionist). Cut that off the bat and set it aside to dry a bit too. You have to let them dry some before joining them, because the clay is so saturated with water from using the wheel that the structures are extremely flimsy, and the added weight could cause either piece to collapse.
"Most potters would use the wheel again to attach the base and the cup to be sure they were centered, but I figured I would mess something up, so I just eyeballed it and used a classic score-and-slip method to join them. I smoothed out the joint, and it was starting to look like a goblet! The base was much smaller than it is in the final pictures -- so small, in fact, that I feared it wouldn't support the cup and it would tip over really easily. So I rolled out a slab of clay, cut a circle and joined that to the base; much better.
Carving the faction designs
"Then came the really fun part. I printed off some pictures of the Alliance and Horde emblems. Just laid them on the side of the cup and traced over them with a pencil. This left a nice imprint of the designs for me to carve out. It was super easy, as the paper didn't exactly lay flat on the side of the goblet, but it worked out really well for me.
"Then came the carving, my specialty. I had learned from a previous project that I was quite good at carving in the clay media. I traced out the whole thing with a sharp pencil and needle tool to give nice crisp lines, then carved out the blue parts of the lion and the red parts of the Horde logo. My school doesn't exactly have the nicest pottery department, so I was a bit limited with tools to use, but I made it work. I used a fettling knife with a dull tip to gouge out little pieces and smooth out the indentations. That took a long time and I thought I was beginning to get arthritis, but I finally had a product I was pleased with.
"The base and handle were too plain, though. I was brainstorming what I should do to spice up the handle and thought, 'Well, swords have handles.' A bit of a stretch, but my idea was to make it look like the handle on Frostmourne (with the three spiked metal rings), so I measured out where three rings would look best and went to town again. Then I just rounded off the base to make it look nice, and that's the unglazed goblet!"
Glazing and finishing
"Glazing was my least favorite part of the class. It can just be so unpredictable and absolutely ruin a piece that you worked so hard on. I had a couple projects earlier be absolutely ruined by the glazing process, so I was a bit worried. We didn't have any good red glazes to use for the Horde side, so I had to opt for painting it in after. For the sake of balance, I decided to paint both sides. The glaze makes a glassy-like surface which paint wouldn't stick to real well, so I had to put wax over the emblems so the glaze wouldn't stick to them and in the kiln would just melt off and leave the bare clay underneath.
"Overall, the glaze worked really well, and I'm pretty happy with it. There were some minor issues around the edges of the emblems and a bit of crawling on the Horde side, which I just touched up with a Sharpie. I was going to silver-leaf the three rings then add the studs, but for the size of the goblet, the silver leaf would just be overpowering and take away from the carvings, so I decided not to do that. I may still add studs around the rings; we'll see. Now all my friends want one!"
Heck, we'd like one, too. Great work, Hurbz -- and welcome to the world of pottery.
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