top of page



Project Goal

Create three cylinder forms with patchworks of underglaze color combinations with slip trailed or sgraffito agricultural elements


  • November 16 Wet Critique

  • December 5 Glazed Critique

  • December 14 Final Evaluation and Report

Evaluation Criteria

  • Concept: Harvest

  • Craftsmanship

    • Form: Lidded cylinders- could be pushed to create more barn-like forms as well.

    • Surface: Slip ribbed texture representing corrugated steel. Possible mixed media: nichrome metal 

    • Creativity: Creating the connection between honoring the American Farmer and historical and functional pottery forms

    • Presentation: Pedestals with goods/seeds inside


Click on the interactive button to view my process for PS2.


Bin 1


My inspiration for these pieces stem from my home. Our farm had/has several grain bins that are essential in a farming industry. Replicating the forms and texture are goals I wanted to strive for while still able to keeping the piece functional. I wanted to experiment with alternative firings along with additional media with clay. My focus is to create a more atmospheric and rusted affect while using an electric kiln and experiment with architectural forms found on family farms in the midwest. 

Ted primarily focusses on objects that are often discarded or have simply become part of the background of our daily life; forms that have traveled the road from useful object to garbage and in many instances back again. "I am fascinated by the color, texture and surfaces that many objects acquire with age. I choose surfaces that are reminiscent of this natural aging process."

Ted Neal


David is interested in rural landscapes, silos, rolling hills, and furrowed fields. "The patterns, textures, and colors translated into the vessel are memories, moments, and thoughts frozen by fire. These vessels are created to celebrate the land that inspires and sustains me."

David Hiltner

"Much of my work is grounded in the prairie of the Midwest. As a former architect, I am drawn to the simple geometric shapes and forms of barns, corncribs and silos in the agricultural landscape of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. My work is intended as an homage to these forgotten, utilitarian structures, many of which are disappearing from the landscape, rural and urban." 

Will Van Dyke


Mary builds pieces from slabs and extruded pieces of clay, at times combining both techniques. The process is akin to playing with Legos. 

“I make what I do in clay because I want to. Talking about the why and wherefore usually means taking liberties with the truth. What is true one day may not be the next. What you swear by one day, you curse the next. As with nature, a state of flux is the rule and means all is well.”

Mary Fischer


My initial throwing experience with the cylinder forms and lids were quite smooth from the get-go. I started to experiment with creating a more corrugated steel look with some underglaze colors and was not in love with the results. I fired nichrome wire within my clay piece and it seemed to survive while giving a very rustic and dirty look(which I was extremely happy about). After forming the thrown pieces, I added slip and went over it with a texture rib to create the corrugated look and was very happy with the construction. 


As I began my glaze chemistry exploration, I was determined to create a stain/glaze that looked rustic, old, and withered to resemble grain bins, new and old. However, as I started to think, I began to wonder how many ways can I create this blank canvas into something more meaningful? My underglaze exploration was a fun and bold way of finishing a form that visually expressed mood and color. I was hoping to finish a piece with stain or a dirty finish as well, but needed some stain experimentation. I was considering on keeping the same form among all pieces, but finishing them all in a way that had the same underlying meaning, yet a completely different look. 


I was not completely sold on any of the glazes I had tested. I had created some neat discoveries, but I hadn't found what I was looking for quite yet, so I kept experimenting. I was not having any luck with the Copper Oxide wash/stain, so I figured I would try some Red Iron Oxide washes/stains instead, along with a few others I had discovered in the process.  

Bin 1

For my first bin, I decided to use the RIO Stain/Wash #1. I felt that it gave me the most "wood fired" and "rusted" look that I was looking for. I ended up sponging off part of the top layer to reveal a little of the higher parts that will hopefully reveal more of a rough finish. 


Overall, I was happy with the end result! I am really glad that I made the split decision to add a clear liner glaze on the inside of the bin, just in case. I actually ended up liking how the clear emphasized the distress a little more that the outside finish did. I was extremely pleased with how the nichrome wire turned out! It withstood the temperatures and added to the overall distressed features I was shooting for. I am not in love with the extremely yellow hue that the clay body gives off after the ^6 firing. I am considering a different clay body, and wonder if I might enjoy that a little more. I would just end up having to sacrifice the iron speckles.




I was particularly impressed with the outcome of this bin! This was the first out of five to have survived a cone 6 firing without any complications. It also had the nichrome wire up the side, which I was slightly worried about. The highest firing temperature is extremely close to the melting point in the wire, so I had no idea what I was going to open the kiln too. This bin was the more shorter and fatter one out of all 5. I liked creating all pieces slightly different, altering the height and width just slightly. I also adjusted the pitch of the roof on some of the pieces as well, some slanted slightly higher than others. Overall, I had never worked with stain before, and with the copper stain not turning out, I resorted to a red iron oxide stain, and am happy with how it turned out, especially with the clay body. 

Bin 2

For bin number 2 I had seen an underglaze technique that was created by my professor and one of my MFA peers, Tyler Dallis. When I had initially tried a method with underglaze I did not get the results I was looking for, and after seeing the extremely rusted and distressed look of the tile that my professor tried, Tyler helped me get more of a visual of what it would look like on a rounded, tall surface. I was intrigued and had to give it a try! I was hoping it could reveal more of a distressed and random look for my bins with a touch of color. 

The process was actually really fun! I tried not to think too much and just apply color where I felt it needed it without going overboard. My mind tends to overdo things because it wants it to be perfect. However, for this process I wanted it to appear more atmospheric, and in order for me to achieve that I was not able to THINK. I had to just simply DO and hope for the best. 


The video on the left shows how I applied the underglaze with a sponge and brush to create a randomized, distressed look before applying the black underglaze on the right. The video on the right shows how I applied the final layer of black to create the "dirty" look. I combined black underglaze with water and dawn dish soap in a cup, then added a straw to blow into which created lots of bubbles. I let those bubbles fall over the piece I was glazing. I ended up liking the results of the black underglaze where I blew really hard to create a TON of little bubbles rather than slow, which created larger ones. The smaller ones added a darker hue to ares which I was more interested in after the final firing. 


I absolutely loved the outcome of this project! The final result turned out even darker and dirtier then what I was expecting, which I was really happy about! My worry was that the final result would be too bright, I think that the high iron in the clay helped with this. I tried using different colors of black underglaze to see if there was really a difference, and they all turned out very similar. I like that I will be able to alter the colors under this technique to reveal a different finish without having to completely change the outcome. I will continue this technique with some slight alterations, I feel like this could be valuable for other pieces in the future and am super happy that I experimented with this! I was able to create a piece that combined my atmospheric look while experimenting with underglaze.


Bin 3

For Bin 3 I wanted to alter a few things from Bin 2, but keep the technique the same and see what the outcome would look like. I made the addition of nichrome wire for the ladder, used porcelain slip instead of the peppered wheat(which is what the form is thrown with), played around with textured slip for the roof, and added a thicker base to incorporate the cement slab that a grain bin normally sits on. I was curious how the underglazes would turn out with the porcelain beneath it. I was also wondering what the nichrome would turn out like with the underglaze overtop: would it flake off?, would it change color?


However, while taking photographs, one of the lids fell and broke. I decided to fire it anyway and use it to improve my fixing skills. I do not have a ton of experience when it comes to repairing ceramic work, I usually just start over. I have slowly learned that there are many artists who repair their work, and hide flaws. I was hoping to be able to learn from this unfortunate event and improve in a department that I lack in.


Ultimately I am very pleased with the result! I adjusted some of the underglaze colors and used some lighter colors with a contrasting white and darker blue to create some more variation compared to Bin 2. I really loved the texture on the top/lid that the brush revealed with this technique. I am over the moon excited for how the nichrome wire steps turned out and cannot wait to incorporate more of this mixed media into my work! The white definitely brought out more of the rust color which I was very pleased with and I feel like this would have been my favorite out of this series if it weren't for the mishap of the broken lid. After the bisque fire, I was able to piece it together fairly well, not too many of the pieces warped so I was able to glue them together. It definitely was not perfect enough to not notice the issue though, so I will be experimenting more with broken pieces in the future. 


Bin 4

For my first bin, I decided to use the RIO Stain/Wash #1. I felt that it gave me the most "wood fired" and "rusted" look that I was looking for. I ended up sponging off part of the top layer to reveal a little of the higher parts that will hopefully reveal more of a rough finish. 

bottom of page