Clay to Ceramics |James Barela Container Designs|Central Texas Gardener

Clay to Ceramics |James Barela Container Designs|Central Texas Gardener


I do graphic design for the Bullock Museum
and I work on the exhibitions, I help put together the visuals for the exhibitions that
they put on, along with the marketing and the advertisements and anything visual that
a museum would need to kind of produce. Part of my response to just being on the computer
all the time for work was I wanted to get physical with my hands and start building
things, start making things and that’s kind of why I got into ceramics along with plants
too. This is about 50 pounds of clay and I’m going
to cut out a chunk and form it into a ball So you cut it with a wire cutter. And I always weigh all my clay in order to
find out how much I’m actually getting. So right now I’m throwing one of my medium
pots and that’s around three pounds and 10 ounces. I just like building things, and I don’t know
why. It feels very natural to me to kind of just
keep busy with my hands at all times. I was getting really into plants and I was
studying them, I was researching them, I was trying to figure out what plants are my favorite,
’cause we all have our favorites. I started, first, just painting terracotta
pots. And I didn’t have the skills to go into ceramics
so I would just buy terracotta pots and just paint them in very graphic ways. And then I was like, okay, I think I can move
on to ceramics, and I took a class at Laguna Gloria. Here we have our prepared ball of clay. And you have so much control in the computer
and then out of that experience, you are with ceramics and you don’t have as much control. It’s kind of like you let yourself go a little
bit and it’s like, okay, well what are my hands gonna produce today? I flatten the bottom, just make sure it’s
all compressed. Am I tired? Okay, it’ll kind of come out in that form. So you kind of have to let go a little bit
and that’s a really nice experience for me. – Young cat Luna’s the self-appointed quality
control manager. – This is about the shape that I like. Now at this point I’ll kind of see how tall
it is. I like to try to make my stuff consistent
and I’m looking for about five inches. That’s about five inches. So I’ll start widening the pot now. The plant will, in my mind, always be the
star and the supporting cast is the ceramic and I want the ceramic to kind of either contrast
the shape or the form of the plant, or I want it to enhance it. – It all started with the plants, especially
when James got into the art of propagation. He germinates seeds indoors, where new life,
from plants to ceramics, begins. – It’s a south facing window and I can usually
draw the blinds a little bit and it just diffuses nicely and the plants seem to love it. There’s three stages to glazed pottery. This is called the greenware. This has not been fired at all, and you’ll
know that it’s greenware, that it’s very quiet, doesn’t make any sound. This is called bisquare, and this has been
fired once. The water has evaporated out of the pottery
and essentially now it makes thissound. It’s very, very sturdy. It’s almost essentially pottery because it’s
already been fired once. What it doesn’t have and what it lacks is
glaze. And this is a final output. This is all the same clay, as well, so the
clay will change colors once it gets fired, as well. So this is the process of trimming. After you throw your pot, you let it dry and
you get it to this point called leather hard. And it’s this somewhat dry, somewhat wet part
where it still holds its shape. It’s not collapsing, see I can do that. But you can still cut into it. So there’s still a lot of moisture in this. But you anchor it down. I usually use pieces of clay. See, I’m telling you. And because I make planters, I always add
a hole for drainage. I’ll go in and kind of work on the foot, which
is this part, and this is the part that keeps the pot level. There’s a lot of waiting involved with ceramics. You’re waiting for things to dry. You’re waiting things to fire, for things
to cool down. You’re waiting for things to get to leather
hard, which is this state that it’s in right now where you can trim it. If I did this just a few hours after I threw
it, it’d be a mess. It’d be clay, wet clay everywhere. So these are my two stamps that I have. One is a cactus, which is kind of my little
logo, cactus and a moon, and then I have my name, which is Baetanical. So ceramics is a craft that will let you know
if you’re rushing it. This is what happens when you rush the process. It will fight back. Essentially, there’s still water trapped in
it when I put it in the kiln, and the steam inside the clay, it makes this explode. So this is the process of glazing. Here is my bucket of dippable glaze and what
I normally first do is I start mixing it so I get all the different minerals together
and homogenized. This is bisquare. This has been fired once already, and it is
very, very dry, so it’ll accept the glaze very quickly. Certain colors fire better than others. Pinks are really hard to get. They tend to fire off. They get burned quickly. – To show how to cultivate, propagate and
display plants, James launched his artistic website and blog, Baetanical. – I think it’s a lot of fun to check out other
people’s processes and to learn from them, to see, okay, they did that that way or I
didn’t think about doing it that way. I wanted to kind of give back because I’ve
gotten so much from them. I called it Baetanical because this whole
thing kind of started out on the Internet. It started for me just sharing my plants and
my ceramics on the Internet. And Bae is this kind of word that came out
of the Internet, which was short for babe, or baby. My plants are my babies! And I kind of just merged it together and
came up with Baetanical. – A demand to own his custom-made containers
led to Baetanical’s online store. – There’s been late nights where I’ve been
doing this. I’m like, why am I doing this so late? The greatest joy that I’m getting is seeing
other people’s plants in my pots and seeing the ideas that they put into it. And that’s always a really nice experience.

2 thoughts on “Clay to Ceramics |James Barela Container Designs|Central Texas Gardener

  1. Wonderful video – and just love those planter pots!! And a green thumb too! Such a creative artistic soul! I wonder if he will create "Luna" planter pots with moon shapes! Love the cat – and Luna should be in all of his advertising for his business! Thanks for sharing such great artisans and their works!

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