Panopoly Creations

Ring Things

When I first started thinking about and experimenting with making handmade ceramic rings, I couldn’t find anybody who did it, so I pretty much had to work from scratch to figure out how best to construct them, glaze them, fire them, etc. There were a lot of kinks to work out, such as how to make the rings as round as possible (you can’t just wrap a strip of clay around something, because the clay shrinks as it dries, so it’ll just crack; plus, ware often deforms slightly in the kiln), how to glaze them (do you just glaze the outside or the whole thing?), and how to fire them (if I glaze them on the outside only, I can do it the same way I fire my handmade beads, but if the whole ring is glazed, I’ve never found a good way to do it). But most of these difficulties were, in the end, easily solved.

[Woodland Ring, Size 4.5]

I found that a ring doesn’t have to be perfectly round to be comfortable to wear, for one thing. A certain level of roundness is required for aesthetic purposes, of course, but beyond that, the wearer’s fingers don’t mind. Unfortunately, without a perfectly-round ring (such as what you’d get with a metal or glass ring, where it’s actually formed around a round shape and hardens there) it’s much harder to size it properly. This was possibly the most challenging thing for me to figure out–math has never been my strong suit! What I basically ended up doing, after finding a list of ring sizes and their equivalents in millimeters, was figuring out my own ring sizes, and then trying on the rings I’d made. I discovered that the most accurate way to do things was to size the ring based on the smallest (diameter) measurement I could get from it. I found that if a ring was the right size on at least one part of my finger, it didn’t matter if the ring was otherwise a bit big–and contrariwise, if the ring was too small in one place it didn’t matter how big it was in others–it was still uncomfortable!

[Wavy Orange Ring, Size 7.5]

The next thing I had to look to was glazing. I had made a few successful prototypes in which I glazed the entire ring–however, I had to construct my own kiln furniture on which to glaze them, and even with that I usually had to sand off stilt marks from wherever the furniture had touched the rings. It was very time-consuming and not very satisfying. Aesthetically thinking, I thought that having the whole ring glazed looked prettier. However, when I actually started wearing some of my rings to check the comfort level, I found that for some reason having the inside glazed made my finger feel constricted. If I frequently got my hands wet while wearing the ring, I sometimes got a rash similar to what I get when I wear metal rings with wet hands.

So in the end I decided not to glaze the insides. It not only saves me a lot of trouble but I think the end product is more comfortable for the wearer–and nobody else sees the inside of the ring anyway, unless the wearer shows them. After all that time I spent fiddling, I am very satisfied when the line I’ve put together, and I hope you will be too!

[Lemon Cream Ring, Size 6.5]