Copper and Fire

This week, I finished the students glaze firings at my studio and now I am frantically trying to finish several ceramic sculptures for submission to an upcoming museum show.  I needed a frame to add to one of my sculptures, so I taught myself to solder copper tubing. After watching a few plumber’s YouTube videos, I had a good start with some confidence and determination.

I had a specific idea in mind when I created the clay sculpture of the two sisters.  I left two holes in the back to insert a frame halo or fan shaped frame to compliment the two sisters having a deep connection.  I also wanted to have the option to remove the halo for shipping or transporting.

I first created a template, then did a few prototypes in wire but I still was not happy with the results.  I wanted the halo to be strong and fit into the holes in the now fired ceramic work.  My first attempt at the idea involved using sculpture mesh wire with a heavy wire for support.  After making it, it was not the right look.

So back to the drawing board.  Then I had the brilliant idea of using hammered copper tubing creating the desired shapes for the halo.

With the help of the video lessons, I took my propane torch, solder and copper learning a great deal of what not to do and what works best.  Below are the results of the my first attempt at creating the halo form in hammered copper tubing.  I have far to go, but my vision began to take shape and I am happy with the project.

Next, I will use the metal file and take off any messy solder and cut off any excess copper. Then I will use a special mixture of porcelain, PVA glue and Japanese Rice Paper applied over the copper frame with added weaved copper wire.  Once dry, I will coat the halo with bleached beeswax.  Hopefully, the results will manifest itself from a creative vision to a finished ceramic sculpture.


Work bench to create the hammered copper tubing.  Love the bench vise and propane torch.


Template/Drawing of the halo and the first attempt using sculpture wire mesh.


The unfinished hammered copper tubing frame inserted into the back of the sculpture.  It fits like a glove.  Next, I will refine the copper with a metal file taking off the excess solder and trim some of the pieces.  Hopefully, I will not have to clean up too much solder in the future.  Practice makes perfect!

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A Few Student Glazed Ceramic Works

For the last few weeks, I have glaze fired the student’s artwork pieces for the Spring Semester.  I have a few examples of the excellent work my students produced.  I am very proud.


Home School Class:  This student did an amazing glaze technique.  She was very meticulous and took her time.

Hand Vases

Two students from the 3rd and 4th grade class interpreted the clay hand project by creating sculptural vessels.

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Artistic Activism

Making an environmental statement can be done without words.  Action speaks louder than words.

In my front garden, I am making a visual statement about promoting home vegetable gardens, growing organic, and sharing the harvest with my neighbors.

This little herb garden in the front has surprised me with its positive energy.  Neighbors stop and talk.  I see people taking time to look at the herb garden.

I have offered some neighbors to cut herbs for cooking when they wish.  Placing cutting shears inside a recycled mailbox invites them to take what they need.

I have placed a pail on the fence offering my neighbors to take the abundance of vegetables or herbs with them.  I wrote the simple word “SHARE” on the pail.

I only put the pail up today and already the response is positive.  I hope it sends the message of love, sense of community, and sharing.

NeighborShare copy

Neighbor Share




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A Garden for Inspiration

I am a gardener.  I love digging in the dirt, pruning my plants, adding new plants, changing the garden design and reaping the rewards of its endless supply of beauty and edible treats.

Images of plant life seep into my artwork.  I find the two are intertwined and inseparable from the soil to my studio.  I dream of ceramic artwork and plants.  Both give me peace and passion towards the endless cycle of life and death.

My garden is living, growing and I am a steward of this 6,000 square feet of dirt.  I do not truly own it, but it is on loan for a couple of decades.  It will then pass on to another to hopefully love it as I do.

I try hard to keep the yard free of pesticides and chemicals.  I invite the wildlife to eat at the bird feeders and drink from the birdbaths.  I also put out corn and peanuts for the squirrels and birds.  All give me entertainment and wonder from their beauty.  Most have been very respectful of my garden.

The garden is a part of my life.  In my art, the garden influences my voice about the importance of clean food, a clean environment, and activism to demand food without chemicals and pesticides.

Here are some images from the back yard garden.  You will find planted together herbs, flowers, vegetables, fruit trees and berries.


Hibiscus flower


Kale and Swiss Chard




Arbor Entrance to backyard and Ceramic Studio.


Blackberries growing on back fence.


Herb garden area in back yard.


Garden in back of Art Studio.


Back garden looking back to the house.


Backyard birdbath.


Student Ceramic Work

I am very privilege to teach ceramics and art at an independent art school for children and adults along with gifted fellow artists and teachers.  Art Studio on the Boulevard in the Houston Heights offers a variety of art projects for the children ages pre-k through high school.  Adult night classes are offered focusing on painting in oil or watercolor. Children learn a variety of artistic expression such as painting (watercolor, oils, acrylic), printing making, mixed media, drawing, sculpture and introduced to many more art materials and styles.  Below are some of the amazing examples of ceramic artwork in my ceramic classroom (5th grade and up) and the younger grade classes (pre-k through 2nd grade) taught by our amazing teachers.

Not only do I teach ceramics, I also pack, load, fire and deliver all the children’s ceramic artwork for two schools (Esperanza School and Art Studio) at my private studio.  For the Fall and Spring semester, I bisque fire approx. 280 ceramic artworks and glaze fire approx. 140 pieces of art per semester.

A typical ceramic bisque firing takes three days from the time the kiln is loaded, the switch turned on, the kiln reaching temperature at 1940 degree F and cooled down to 200 degrees F for unloading.

During the three Summer Camp Sessions, each camp two weeks long, I dry, bisque fire and deliver 145 children’s artwork before each two week sessions ends.  It becomes quite busy, but I have learned how to patch, repair and salvage broken ears, noses, legs and applied clay decorations to the children’s work with excellent results.  You learn very quickly working with a variety of ceramic styles.

I am blessed to be part of the art community and watch the children grow with each new discovery in art.


Kiln room with children’s glazed pieces ready for a kiln firing this week.


This is what makes me so proud to be a teacher.  Two students from the 3rd and 4th grade Wed. class decided to paint a portrait of me with ceramic glazes.  I cannot wait to see the fired result.  The green tile captures a likeness of me with dark hair, my ever present turquoise bandana headband and earrings.


An amazing ceramic glaze meticulously painted by one teenage student.  This will be glaze fired this week.


My class on Thurs. afternoon with the 5th graders and up.  The project started out with tracing of hands and arms by each student on paper.  Then the students created the hand/arm templates into created ceramic designs of sharks, bowls, sculptures and so on.  It was a very fun and creative project.


Examples of the hand/arm project from the Wed. (3rd and 4th grade) class.  Two students decided to use the hand/arm template and create sculptural type vases.  Both of these are glazed and ready for a glaze firing.


This lily pond project was created by fellow teacher and friend for the 1st and 2nd graders.


This polka dot chicken was created by a student in the 1st and 2nd grade class.  He/She is waiting for the glaze firing.




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Ceramic Show Jung Center – Houston


ClayHouston is pleased to present Clay: Body, Mind, and Soul.  Including both sculptural and functional pieces from 24 artists throughout a four state region, the show is outstanding and diverse. The techniques and materials range from Mary Fischer’s use of solar etching plates to print on her clay, to the incorporation of antique industrial thread bobbins into the work of Terri Foltz-Fox; functional thrown and altered work by Roy Hanscom to functional slab-built work by Clay Leonard; terracotta used in work by Elliott Kayser to porcelain used by Sharon Warrington.  For all of us in ceramics, this is an exciting, inspiring, must see show. Juried by Garth Johnson, on exhibit Saturday April 2 through Thursday, April 28. The Jung Center,5200 Montrose Blvd, Houston, Texas.
We hope to see you there!
Above:  “Guardian”, clay, underglazes, slip, casein paint, watercolor pencil, wax, Tanna Bennett, 2016

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Adult Ceramic Sculpture Class: Clay Bust Building starting on Sept. 17th

Registration is still open for Building the Clay Bust by local Houston Heights artist and teacher Tanna Bennett.  Here is the class information:
Tanna Bennett – Clay Sculpture Bust Building – Learn how to build a clay bust, detailing and casein/wax finishing after firing. $250 tuition, $80 supplies, max. 8 students, Thursdays, 7 to 9 pm:  Sept. 17, 24 and Oct. 1, 8.  Resume class after kiln firing Nov. 5, 12.
Art Studio on the Blvd, 1703 Heights Blvd., Call for registration – 713-863-8988.
More details for the Clay Sculpture Bust Building Class.  What students will learn:
1)  Students will be provided clay and supplies to create a ceramic bust.
2)  Students will learn the proportions of the head, placement of the nose, ears and mouth and how to finish the details on the ceramic sculpture.
3)  All ceramic busts will be fired in the artist’s studio kiln.
4)  Students will finish the fired ceramic sculpture bust in casein paint and wax, but other options will be discussed.
5)  A prized work of art will be completed to take home.
Visit artist’s website:
Email questions to
Visit Art Studio on the Blvd. website:
I look forward to the new Fall Semester classes!   Blessings, Tanna Bennett

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