What Are The Steps to Making a Clay Bonsai Pot, Part 2

What Are The Steps to Making a Clay Bonsai Pot, Part 2

“Naturally imperfect.” How wonderfully perfect! Ask any Pennsylvania Amish quilter; or visit the Greek myth about Arachne’s challenge to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and crafts (among other duties) and the risks of perfection, and how spiders came to be. As you wisely suggested, exploration, learning, fun and self satisfaction are the prizes.
Question: won’t a damp cloth in the humid plant room slow down the drying process and maybe promote mold?

Video Transcript

hi everyone nigel saunders here welcome back to part two of making a clay bonsai pot i started today by cleaning down my work area and today i’m going to be making and attaching the feet to the bottom of the pot so here is my pot yeah seems good the clay is still moist it survived the the night quite well in the greenhouse here it’s still soft enough that i can attach the feet onto it so that’s good i’m going to design the feet and i want the feet to match the top of the pot this pot is a very simple pot it has straight sides it has a very small lip i undercut the lip with my root rake here so there’s two features i can put in the feet and one is that slight kind of lip and then the undercut so i think i want the feet to match the top of the pot so it’ll just be this kind of pattern inverted on the feet so i want very simple feet i don’t want to put really fancy kind of feet on a simple pot maybe when i make another pot my fourth pot i can make a fancier top on the pot and then have fancy feet to match it i’ll cover the pot up to keep it moist so it doesn’t dry out and then i’ll get my clay out and i’ve got to see how much i have i need enough of four feet looks like i have lots here so i better knead this together to make it all nice and consistent and i’ll divide it into four pieces and that will be the size of my feet okay that’s fairly consistent and then i’ll divide it into four all right here i go in half half again half again so there’s my four pieces for the feet so my feet you want it longer the foot on the length and shorter on the width kind of proportional to the length of the sides so i’m going to want kind of a a 90 degree bend like that something like that so i’m going to attach the feet and then i’m going to carve them on the pot i think that’ll look best so i’ve got to make a sharp corner on the foot something like that when i attach the feet you’ve got to score the pot and then put a bit of water normally you have slip which is a thin clay mixture but i don’t have any slips so i got to make my own kind of so i’m going to get some water out and i’ll just soften that area up where the foot is going to go and then i’ll score it so i’ll come in here and i’ll make diagonal lines this scoring will help kind of glue the foot to the pot like that then i’ve got to do the same for the bottom here so i want to flatten the foot out on my wood here that’s fairly flat i’ll score it see this clay is a lot softer than my pot and then i’ll just wet the surface like that get some moisture on it and then i can glue the foot down and again this foot will be shaped afterwards so i’ve gotta kind of push it down firmly but not too firmly that i deform the pot you can kind of feel if it’s gripping you know by the way it sits on there if it doesn’t slide off or anything you know you’ve got good contact with the pot that seems really good like that that’s good so i’ve got to do that for all four feet i’ve got the four feet attached to the bottom of the pot so the next step is to start shaping them so i will do that i’m going to look at it from down low here and just start kind of fixing it up and kind of integrating it with the pot okay i think that’s you know pushed down secured very well i don’t think those feet are going to come off all right it’s time to do the shaping now this will be the fun part i’m going to flip the pot over and then get a kind of a rough idea of how i want these feet to look the bottom is kind of deformed a little bit but we’ll fix that so let’s go down low and we’ll look at it from the front view i could continue this line from this edge of the pot down or make it kind of smooth but i don’t like narrow feet on the pot you know if i have them out further the pot looks more stable so i think what i want to do is put a reverse chamfer here just a slight one so the pot chamfers down or angles down and then angles outwards slightly i think that’ll look good then i’ll put fix my chamfer here and then i’ll put a little edge around the bottom of the feet and then that groove that matches the top and i think that’ll look good i don’t want these feet to look too heavy the pot is quite light the clay thickness is thin i don’t want big heavy feet on a delicate looking pot so i want the feet to kind of match the style of the upper part of the pot so we’ll try and get the feet to look quite dainty all right so i need to get these feet to angle out a bit so i think i’ll do that from the top view or from the underside of the top so i’ve got to kind of squish them out i hope this looks good it’s my first initial impression we’ll try it if it doesn’t work then we change it that’s what you do and i’ll be trimming down the height of the feet later on too to make sure the pots level and i don’t want big thick heavy feet on that on the pot so it’ll all be slimmed down i noticed i’ve done some pots in 3d on the computer for 3d printing and it’s a very subtle thing feet and the proportions of the pot getting them to look just right it takes a it’s not easy but when you get it right you know your eye just says yep that’s right okay i’ve kind of got that chamfer now so let’s flip it over and have a look at it again yeah i think that looks good now the inside of the feet i definitely don’t want them that long i would say maybe at least a third off so i’m going to do that now i’m going to kind of rough the proportions of the foot in so here i go and i’m going to come down on an angle i’ll try and keep the same angle as the side of the pot so i’ll do it right here i can always move more if this isn’t enough it’s looking better let me have a look at the pot now see if i still need to take more off yeah i think that’s looking all right i’ll see you know when the final height and everything’s set maybe you know maybe i’ll have to change it a bit but i think it’s looking okay now i’ve got to do the same for the side view so i’ll flip the pot back over once again and i’ll trim the the feet on the side here and these will be i think to about there try it there okay i’ll have a look at that and we’ll see how it looks from the side view that looks better looks a little lighter so there’s a three-quarter view yeah it looks nicely proportioned now the feet still look heavy to me but that will get fixed i’m just looking at the front view to see how high i want the feet i think about half that height would look best so the feet are quite heavy looking now so i’ll flip it over so i want to reduce them by about half so i will do that i’ll have to get something to kind of get them even so something that’s the right height here i couldn’t find anything the right height so i’m just going to have to measure it i mean that’ll work right i think that looks pretty good i think that’s a good height for the pod i don’t want those as i said i don’t want you know big heavy feet on a light pot and i’ll be leveling these out you know on a flat surface in the very end to get them nice nice and true sticky clay i’ve got the four feet done let’s flip it over not done but rough to size let’s have a look at it and see what it looks like here’s a look at the feet they’re just roughed in but i think that looks good i think the proportions look really good i think it suits the pot my next step will be to refine the shape of them so i’ve got this chamfer underneath the pot that i want to continue around so i’m going to work on that first so i’m going to flip the pot over and i’ll work on that chamfer so i want to put a chamfer all the way around here so up there yeah somewhere about there i come in here the clay from the foot is softer than the pot so it’s coming away quite easily so something like that to continue that chamfer i’ll do it on this end too i’ve got my chamfer roughed in here before i flip the pot over and have a look at it i’m going to thin down the feet from you know the bottom view they’re too thick so let’s get the camera up higher and i’ll show you what i’m going to do there the feet are too heavy in this view so i’ve got to shave them down and i’m just trying to think what size maybe here to here maybe there let me just mark it all the way across mark this one oh oh this could be it this could be the zombie apocalypse one of these days i’m gonna say that and it’s gonna really happen there’ll be zombies running through my backyard okay so there’s the size of my feet laid out so i’m going to sculpt away the rest of it trying to the feet were very firmly attached like that all right let’s flip the pot over and have a look at it i think what it needs you know how i have this subtle lip up here i think i need a half foot that step down a bit and sticks out a bit like the lip on the top i think that’s what it needs so i’ll make some auxiliary feet for the bottom i’ve got my four corner pieces cut out so i’ll just rough those up and attach them to the bottom of the feet i’ve got all my secondary feet attached here so let’s flip it over and have a look and see what it’s looking like kind of evaluate the design make sure you know i’m on track that it’s not looking too heavy or too high or whatever there’s a look at it and i don’t like it it is sitting too high so i’ve got to make these very subtle i think so i’m going to have to slim everything down well that looks much better i i’m happy with that i think it’s got the right amount of feet versus pot the proportions are good so now it’s just a matter of fixing everything up oh i’ve got to put my groove down there too with my root rake so i’ll fix up the feet first and then i’ll run that groove across i’ve got a lot of the feet cleaned up now trying to get them you know shaped nicely smooth so they’re pretty close let’s flip it over now and have a look at the pot see what it’s looking like that edge really took a beating get that fixed up yeah let’s flip it over i’m just going to kind of even out my bottom of the pot here kind of sagging a bit from all this footwork i did all right let’s have a look at it i’m looking at the pot from the front now and it’s getting close i think this extension from the foot is maybe a little long i think i could shorten it just a bit okay yeah i like that much better all right i’ll clean those feet up once again here’s a look at the pot now and i’m really liking it i think it has you know just enough features in it to give it a bit of style i think it’s a nice simple pot and it’ll really when a tree is planted in it i think the two will complement each other nicely i think it’s a a nice looking pot so i’ve got to start the process now of fixing up all my surfaces getting rid of all my scratches trying to to everything up and you know all those finishing details so i’ll work away at that now uh i’ve got a piece of wood here that i think the pot can rest on while it’s drying so it doesn’t kind of sag the bottom out i think it’s the so i can put the pot like that while it’s drying and that way the bottom won’t sag or anything okay so i’ve got to finish the pot um i’ve got a little bit more finishing work on it i’ve gotta just make sure the inside is finished around the lips did i just scratch it again oh my goodness this thing sensitive yeah a little more finishing work on the inside and then i can sign the pot actually i can sign the pot now i better do that now which would be the front of the pot i don’t know uh-huh i think this would be the front of the pot so if i was to flip it up i would sign it this way i i don’t guess it makes much difference okay so i’m going to sign it i’m just going to rough it in with a this i always just sign my initials nrs and the year so let’s do that and then i gotta put the year so 2022 i think i’ll write the year off to the side a little smaller so we’ll go to zero okay i think you can read the 2022 quite nicely but you can’t read my initials very well so we got to make that a little more pronounced that will do so just a little more finishing work to do just kind of brushing out the crumbs from the inside here getting the walls a little cleaned up okay i think that’s it i think i’ve got to leave it alone the next step with this pot is to slowly let the clay dry over a couple of weeks at least maybe two to three weeks drying very slowly so i’ll keep you know a damp cloth on top of it and i’ll keep it in the plant room where it’s really humid and hopefully it’ll kind of slowly dry out and when it’s totally dry then it can go in for the first firing and if you want to put a glaze on you need a second firing so i don’t know i haven’t decided about a glaze yet i think i’ll have to see the pot after it comes out of the first firing and then decide well do i need a glaze on it or does it look good the way it is here’s a look at the pot it’s all finished i’m going to rotate it around so here’s maybe the front [Applause] here’s a look at the bottom of the pot rotating it around you could spend hours fixing up these feet perfectly you could but i’m gonna leave it at that i think it’ll be naturally imperfect here’s a look inside the pot i hope i get to plant a tree in it someday i’m going to clean up here and then i’ll show you all three pots that i’ve made i’ve made three in my life i’ll put them all side by side and maybe we’ll see a bit of evolution in my pot making skills here is a look now at the three pots i’ve made in my lifetime going from the earliest which is over here i just made a simple rectangular pot and that was back in the year 2000 22 years ago oh my goodness time flies and i believe this one is stoneware high fired the next one is the one i made at isabella’s and a larger pot um and this is just a high-fired clay so good for tropical trees i wouldn’t uh put this out in the frost now the disadvantages of stoneware is they don’t absorb any water at all whereas a a lower fired clay pot will wick moisture away from the soil so it’s actually better for especially for succulents than that to get a lower fired clay pot now this is still high fired i mean it’ll last a lifetime i just wouldn’t leave it out in the frost at all because it’s not quite as strong it can absorb water into the clay and then when that water freezes it can break the clay apart so so this clay is the same as my new pot so here’s my latest one 20 22 so this will turn that nice kind of tan color when it’s fired and i don’t know about a glaze i’ve never done a glaze on a pot before so maybe this will be part of the evolution will be to get a glaze on my new pot yeah we’ll see if it survives the firing first and then i’ll make that decision i really had fun over the last two days making that bonsai pot from clay it’s nice working with your hands and the clay if you’re interested in pottery lessons isabella is a fantastic teacher she’s in the kitchen or waterloo area and i’ll put a link to her website in the description below i’ll slowly dry my pot over the next couple of weeks and then next time i head to isabella’s i’ll leave it there for firing that’ll be awesome and that’s all for today i’m nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone you

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