Suzanne Hill Ceramics
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Forming:
Over the course of my career I have worked with many different ways of making my work. I started with hand building. Coming from an illustration background, I was more interested in surfaces as a canvas for my drawing and painting. So I started with boxes and flat sided pieces. During this period, I worked with layering underglazes on porcelain. As I moved along, I started combining throwing and handbuilding, and used decoration in a more abstract way, using the character of the glaze and the process of firing to enhance the decoration. I worked with raku and fuming for a more abstract, process-driven decoration.. In the last 10 years I have become very interested in refining my throwing technique. The shapes I have had in mind are best realized with the potters’ wheel. I work in a range of sizes and shapes, with both functional and decorative pieces. I throw some of the more challenging shapes with a heat gun. This enables me to dry certain sections of the piece in order to support a more extreme shape. I also section throw some of the larger pieces. 
Decoration and Firing:

Saggar Firing:
The newest technique I have been working on is called saggar firing. It comes from a combination of the techniques of pit firing and firing in saggars. The decorating and the firing are done in containers of clay called saggars. They can be any size and shape, as long as they fit into the kiln. Saggars were originally used to protect pottery from impurities like ash landing on them during a firing. Now they are used to create their own atmospheres inside the saggar. They are usually stacked one on top of another inside a gas kiln. To prepare, pots are covered with a coating of terra sigillatta, a slip made from letting clay slip settle, and siphoning off the finest particles of clay that are left in suspension on top. This slip gives a satin surface to the clay and forms the base for the smoke decoration. After the pots are bisqued, they are placed in saggars with various combustible materials packed around them. These can be anything from salt and metallic oxides to copper wire, sawdust, hay, seaweed, or wood shavings. Each saggar forms its own atmosphere inside as the kiln is fired. The waves of smoke produce patterns on the clay, each one unique.

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High Fire Stoneware:
I have been working in cone 10 reduction stoneware for most of my career. My approach to high fire stoneware is to make the glazes as interesting and varied as I can. I am always developing new additions to my color palette, and tweaking the old ones. My preferred way of glazing a piece is to use a combination of dipping and spraying the glazes. This way I can achieve many effects by layering glazes. The trick is to keep the coating of glaze from getting too thick, which will result in the glazes peeling off (crawling) or melting off the pot. There is a great deal of chemistry involved in high fire glazes. My approach is not exactly scientific, but my familiarity with the materials enables me to come up with new combinations and interesting results.

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Suzanne Hill, Ceramic Artist
Copyright 2011-2015, Suzanne Hill. All rights reserved.
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