about the process

Maria Dondero's pottery wheel

I start with a kickwheel and a slowly thrown pot using a beautiful, rich red/brown clay. Enjoying the process is equally important to me as the finished product. I want the end result to reveal the process: the rings from throwing, the attachment of the handle or knob, fingerprints and gestures in the white slip. 

When the piece is leather-hard, I apply a white kaolin slip either by dipping or brushing. After the slip dries, I sketch quick drawings into the clay, revealing the dark clay underneath. I try not to think too much about what I am drawing; rather I let the random finger swipes and the shape of the pot suggest silly images of plants and animals to me.

Maria Dondero paints slip onto a handmade clay bowl

After the bisque, I stain the lines with an iron/copper stain to add another layer of texture and color. Next, I add colors - primarily a hand-mixed water glaze with copper and iron oxides that I like for the vibrancy of hue, and the contrast that it adds to the dark clay and white slip. Last, I use an atomizer to spray a light clear glaze over the pieces, leaving them with lots of texture and, hopefully, not too shiny.