Hand Building a Fountain Using a Beachball | Vicki Conley | Skillshare

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Hand Building a Fountain Using a Beachball

teacher avatar Vicki Conley, Art and Design

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

5 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Beachball Fountain Introduction 2

    • 2. Materials beachball

    • 3. Making the Pot Over the Beachball Lesson 1

    • 4. Small ball and stand

    • 5. Finishing the big ball

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About This Class

In this pottery class I will teach you a super easy way to make a water fountain out of clay using a beachball as a mold. You don't need any fancy equipment except a place to fire your pot. These big beachball shapes can also be sold alone as a big serving bowl.

Using a high fire stoneware clay means these are very sturdy even though they look like a cracked dinosaur egg.

Someone even commissioned me to make one of these pots into a sink for their powder room.

Meet Your Teacher

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Vicki Conley

Art and Design


Hello, I'm Vicki Conley.

I have been a professional studio potter for over 40 years and own Pinon Pottery Gallery in Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico. I am known for my very unique hummingbird functional pottery. I am also a fiber artist and have been making art quilts since 2007.

 I enter many juried shows and know what it takes to get good photos of art work. Please join me as I teach you easy pottery techniques and how to take photos of your art quilts in your own studio.

Please visit me at http://www.vicki-conley.com/

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1. Beachball Fountain Introduction 2: Hi, welcome to pinion pottery. My name is Vicki Conley and I live in redoes to dance New Mexico, which is a little tourist town up in the mountains of southern New Mexico. And I own a gallery called Pendulum pottery, or my studio is in the back. I've been making pottery for over 40 years and would love to share many techniques with you as I am moving into semi-retirement. In this lesson, we're going to make this lovely beach ball fountain or eggshell pot fountain. I build it over a beach ball and it is a lovely addition to my gallery or would be to your craft fair booth. Follow along in these really easy lessons. 2. Materials beachball: Okay, Let's talk about the materials and the clay you'll need to build your beach ball or egg shell pot fountain. You need a beach ball and I usually put it in a bucket with the little opening down into the bucket. And then I cover the ball with a large piece of flat. You want the plastic to hang down quite a way so that you can pull it up around the edge. You'll see later in the demonstration when I use the extra plastic for, you'll also need some kind of paddle, can be a flat paddle or a ping-pong paddle. A little ball of what it up newspaper that I've made this little round balls. See, it's about the size of my fist by widening up newspaper and wrapping it with masking tape. It's quite old now. A sponge, a little serrated tool of some kind, a piece of pipe to cut the hole for your tubing, for your fountain pump, and a rolling pin to roll your clay out. It's especially nice if you have a slab roller, but if you don't, you can roll it by hand. And this clay is sold date 60. It's a Laguna clay body with 60 mesh sand. It's quite gritty and so it really makes a really good fountain. It doesn't crack and is watertight after firing. 3. Making the Pot Over the Beachball Lesson 1: So in today's class, we're going to learn how to make the bottom part of a beach ball fountain. In other words, I'm going to put the clay over a beach ball and use it as a mold. So I'm going to start with a half a bag of clay and do a little bit of stretching and flipping on the slab roller that will help to compress the clay particles. I wanted to try to push it out along the slab as wide as I can. I'm going to go the other side. And if you don't have a slab rule or at home, of course you can just use a rolling pin. But in the studio, of course, using this nice roller will make a nice even large slab. So here's my slab. And we're going to do, I'm going to put this will work. I've got a blown-up beach ball, a pretty good size beach ball. And I'm going to cover it with plastic, making sure it's fairly long and we'll go down lower than where the edge of the ball is. And now I'm just going to take pieces of this slab and start to lay it over the ball, overlapping them a little bit. And there was a little hole there in the slab. I can just patch that with a little piece. Right now. I'm not really sticking it together too much. I'm just overlap the num and trying to fill in the spaces. I want to go down. I'm a little bit past halfway on the ball. So it's hanging down on, past the edge of the bucket. Just barely keep it fairly. Even from one side to the other. It won't slip off. We have another little hole there and just patch it. Clays fairly soft. But I am working fairly quickly because I live in dry New Mexico where things can dry up very fast. So the edge of the bucket is right about here. So I'm almost to the edge of the bucket. And what I'll do is after I finish this part of it today, I'll let it stiffen up and do a little bit tomorrow. When I turn a ball up, right-side up and finish shaping the top edge. Still want to go down a little further. So I'm gonna go ahead and maybe put some smaller pieces on here. And I'll be adding a quite a few more smaller pieces tomorrow after it has stiffened up. So I haven't really seen that together much in a minute. I'm gonna take a big paddle to it. Just a little bit more on this side. Okay, now for the fun part, where you get to bang out your frustrations. Okay, So I have another piece of canvas and a paddle. This is a flat ping-pong paddle with the rubber step taken off. And I'm going to always cover it with the fabric and just beat on it. And you can see how that's starting to make the scenes go away. The kind of hitting it at an upward angle near the clay together rather than just pounding flat. You can kinda see the motion in my hand. Overlap that clay. Oops, I'm going to fall off the bucket. It'll just pad itself together. And we'll get it all psu dot on the outside. Then I'm going to go out and get a little branch from one of my juniper trees to add texture. Let's see. Okay, There's a spot where actually have a little hole, so I'll get a little piece of clay here and just put that over the hole. Now, what happens when the pot gets leather hard? We're just let a little air out of the ball and take it right out. One more little bit. Okay, now I'm going to go out and get a little branch off of one of my trees and I'll be right back. Oh, so now that I've picked these little branches off of my juniper trees, I live in New Mexico and so this is a little bit so that I like to use, but you could use other kinds of trees or leaves, or you could just carve ticks, you're into your ball. And so now, just going to take my title and just randomly push this texture into the ball. I finished fees with just iron oxide and it makes a real natural look to it. You could you could use other things for your texts. Here is a little drier than what I usually use. We think we might have the same there that we might need a little more clay on. Just smooth that clay in there and then I'm going to click the texture right over it. Okay, so now, not really too worried about these edges until tomorrow when I add a little more clay up around the top. So I want to keep the edges soft. So I'm going to take this clastic and kind of folded up around the edge so that this part of the ball will get dry and get leather hard, but the edge of the ball will still be soft when I get to it tomorrow. And I can add some more little small pieces to make a little nicer edge around the top. And then I'll put more of that texture around the top two. So that's all there is for the, for the first part. And in the next section I'll show you how to make the little top part of the beach ball. 4. Small ball and stand: Okay, So now we're gonna make the top part of the fountain, or the water's going to come out and drip down into the, into the pot. This is a watered up piece of paper or newspaper with some masking tape around it. And it's pretty old and pretty dried out, but it's fairly firm. And that's what I'm going to build around just like we built around the beach ball a minute ago. So I'm gonna take a little bit of my clay to start trying to cover up the little ball. I'm going to have a little spout area that's going to be a little too big, so I'll take that off and put it up on the top. Right. So I want to leave some of it open like that because we're going to have to pull this little paper out. Might still have a little bit too. Okay, so now that I've kind of got it in a ball shape, I'm going to do the same thing padlet with the paddle. They're a little bit more clay back to that. Okay, So then I'm gonna take my little pieces of tree branch. And again, I'm just going to lay out there compound this texture. All right, so then I'm just going to try to get it back around. This is a little bit drier clay than I usually use. So it's tending to break apart on me a little bit. But now's a good time to take that out, the ball out. And I can kinda reshape this just by tearing. You want to really ragged edge. Another term for these are instead of beach ball pots, you, sometimes I call them eggshell pots because they look like big crack eggs. And now I'm just trying to kind of turn in the outside. So we have a little bit less of an opening. But you can see here I've left sort of a lip where the water's going to come out. And after this is stiff, I'll put a hole down here where the tube from the fountain pump will go. But again, I will put that on there till it's leather hard. So I can add a little bit more tree branch texture. Okay, So then I'm going to try to find something kinda round, some kinda round cup to sintered onto dry. Because I don't want to get I don't want it to get flattened any. I want this to be nice and round on the bottom. So I have a little piece of foam here. And I'm going to just set this on the cup. And once it stiffens up to leather hard, I'll cut that hole in it. Okay, so now we need some kind of tube like this pot here that's holding this something to hold that ball shape up inside the fountain so that the water will come up from the pump up through the cylinder, through the ball and then cascade back into beach ball. So we're gonna take some of our leftover slab and cut a rectangle and might as well add a little texture to it. We can take our little plants are little juniper branches and go ahead and add a little texture to it. With a rolling pin. It's kind of down into ball when, when your fountain is going to, you don't really see it, but we can do that anyway. And now I'm going to do some slip and scoring. This plays a little stiffer than my clay I usually use in my soft slab class. I don't use any water or slip, but since this is a little drier and stiffer, I'll put some little score marks on here. Slip is just some clay and water mixture that's kind of the thickness of whipped cream. Just push it together. What I'd like to do is turn it over onto that seem in kinda tap it on the table a little bit. It's big enough for you to get your hand in. And you can hold it on the inside and on the outside, kinda push your seam together. So now the fountain pump would go underneath this part. But you know, the fountain pump is going to have a cord. So on my little cylinder, I'm going to get a knife. I like to cut some notches out in the bottom where you kinda make it more interesting edge on the bottom. But it also allows for a place for the fountain pump cord that come out from under the cylinder without making the cylinder sit crooked at an angle. So I've cut those little notches out. And then I'm going to have my cylinder here. Now to finish up the top edge. I'm still a little crack there from where I had done pounded the tree branch in. So I'm going to stick just a little bit of clay on top of that little crack. And if I was throwing this piece on the potter's wheel, I would flare it out around the top a little bit. So I'm going to do a little flaring just by turning it, holding my hand against the back. I'm using just a very damp sponge to kind of thin out the edge and flared out. So now you see we've got a pretty good cylinder right before we kinda let it dry up. Totally want to make sure it hasn't collapsed any on the feet. And you can see that after everything is leather hard that this piece will sit on top of this piece down inside of that big beach ball part that we built first. And it will make a beautiful, beautiful fountain. So you can join me in the next section where I'm going to show you the next day after it's leather hard how I add a little bit more clay to the top edge of the beach ball and then I let the air out of the ball and let take the ball out of the clay. 5. Finishing the big ball: In this lesson, I'm going to finish off the beach ball egg shell pot. When it was upside down on the bucket, I had the plastic all pulled up around its RAM so that the bottom part of the ball could get to labor. So it's nice and fun now. But the top part is still soft and flexible where I can add a little bit more around the top. So I'm going to leave the ball inside. And I'm going to collect all the extra wrapping and just put a rubber band around it to hold it out of the way. So this is what I had looked for my from yesterday. Yesterday. Even though it's a little soft, I'm going to dampen it just a little bit and take this serrated tool and put a little bit score locks on it. Let's just say I'm only dampening that top edge and you can see it's still pretty flexible. They don't just make these last pieces stick on here just a little better. Now, little sections. Just start filling in until I can build it up just a little bit higher. Probably be using mostly just smooth it just a little bit with my favorite. Of course, we're going to take the paddle to it in a minute. But I want this nice rounded edge because like I said, I call it an, either an egg shell pot or a beach ball fountain. It's always fun to tell people how I build it around this beach ball shape. Just about got around here. This needs a little bit bigger piece right there. Just about US, takes about a half a bag of quantities. So I usually can get two plus the little top pieces out of each, each bag of clay. So now I'm going to do the paddling. The little pieces. Again, I'm using another piece of canvas and I'm hitting it with this upwards. And that kind of helps pull those seams together. Really good way to get out your impressions. Okay, So now I've pretty much flattened out a lot of my leaf pattern that was on the upper half. So I'm going to use my same little branch from yesterday, Padlet. And I tried to turn it over and twisted around. I usually just use the same leaf but it looks different because I'm always moving it around and changing its position. Okay, so now I'll leave that ball in there for awhile. And before it gets too hard, I might tap it just a dad on the table to make sure that the bottom of it is flat so that it won't be really readily when it's finished. And if I see any little cookie places, it's still rather hard so I can still manipulate it a little bit. Here's a pretty sharp spot there and I'm just paddling it really gently to just put it back round. So I'll let this difficult probably for an hour or two hours. I'll watch it in as this starts to get fairly stiff at the top, I'm going to open up the plastic here, take some of the air out of the ball until I can get the ball out before I let it completely dry. Now that this is stiffened up a little bit, I'm going to let some of the air out of the ball. Sss. Sss, Sss. How many did some of the air out and then the ball will come out. Plug it back up, takes less blowing up when I make a new one. Okay. Now, the plastic, we'll just deal right away from the inside. Now I like to take this where they're sticking straight up the points and really curve a man. So it really looks like an egg that off right there. Then we just let its different up to dry. Meanwhile, on our little piece that is for the water drains out, I've put a hole in the bottom and this is a piece of pipe that I know when the whole freaks exactly fits the plastic tubing that I use. This is something you'll have to figure out on your own. Someone gave me this piece of pipe years ago that I cut the hole with. When the whole thing is finished, you put your little cylinder in there and put the little ball on top. The pump goes under the cylinder and it recycles the water. And you have a gorgeous fountain. And you didn't even need to learn how to throw pottery all hand-built. After Bisk firing your ball and the inside, Stan, I rub mine with the mixture of iron oxide in water. Then I use a clear glaze on the inside of the pot, the main pot, so that it will make it a little more water tight. Then it's high fired to cone tin in my gas kiln.