Friday, March 30, 2012

Underglaze Test Tiles

I purchase several colors of Amaco Velvet underglaze and have made some test tiles
Each tile is about 2 x 3 inches, and I made 2 with each color. Each has 3 areas, with one, two and three coats of underglaze. One of the tiles I will antique after it is bisqued, the other will be left plain. Then, I'll glaze half or each tile with clear glaze, to see the difference with it under glaze or just plain when fired to cone six.
I did some other tiles with some test patterns, and some with some carving on them. I have a couple where I carved over the underglaze, and some where I carved first, and then put underglaze over the carving. Will the antiquing pick up differently?
I also made a few hand-built mugs today.
I will be very glad when the studio is open again, as it is much easier to make real things in a studio than at a small newsprint covered kitchen counter.
I have noticed that I am quite enjoying the incising/carving aspect now. It seems a bit different to do sgraffito on hand built forms than on a thrown form, somehow.
Perhaps tomorrow I'll take photos of the test tiles.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Bit of Bird Fun

 Well, after spending all that time trying to get my head around the underglaze test tiles, (more on that later!)  I do have a fun project in the works as well.
 I was quite inspired by seeing the sculptures by Emily Wilson in Asheville, and no doubt am influenced by her work with this set of birds, (more elongated-- planning to do in more colors)

However, even before that, I had wanted to do some more birds.  I made several some years ago for in my garden.  They were also about this size, about the size of a fist, with wings outstretched, fat bodies and tails up.  I glazed them in a glossy white, and they had a hole in the bottom large enough for a 1 cm wood dowel.  I used the dowels to place them on finials that i had thrown in sections.  I  am down to only one of these birds left, I don't know what happened to the others!!


I'm trying to figure out some sort of process that combines slip/underglaze with sgraffito and antiquing.  possibly covered in a clear glaze
there seem to be endless permutations.
In my navy and white series, I made a form, let dry, applied large areas of slip, and carved when damp.  bisque fired, then glazed with clear.  5 steps.

so there are various processes that can be applied at various stages of the piece based on hardness, such as:
1. when soft
 impressed decoration

2. When the clay is leather hard
carving on base clay
large areas of slip/underglaze
brush strokes of slip/underglaze
underglaze pencil drawing
sgraffito through slip/underglaze to the clay layer

3. when the clay is bone dry
large areas of slip/underglaze (dip or brush)
brush strokes of slip/underglaze
slip trailing
underglaze pencil drawing
sgraffito through slip/underglaze to the clay layer

cuerda seca

3. When the clay is bisque fired
before glazing:
"antiqued" with brushed on/off oxides or stains
re-application of slips or underglazes
    (can go directly to cone 6 firing without additional glaze)

4. raw glazed:
overglaze decoration with stains/oxides using brush or sprayer

overglaze decoration with underglazes
sgraffito through overglaze decoration to the glaze layer
layered glazes, dipped, brushed or trailed

5. cone 6 fired
decals or lustres
refire to a different temp
I made a table on word-perfect to summarize this, but am unable to copy it to this format.
It is important to note that some techniques can be repeated numerous times at each stage of dryness, ex. apply slip, let dry , apply more slip or underglaze, or you could re-bisque many times to fix the layers of underglaze decoration.  I also didn't include resists, since I'm not too interested in using them right now.
the techniques are all based on cone 6 electric kiln firing, so I haven't included such things as burnishing, waxing, or different atmospheres like pit firing, raku, soda or salt, flashing slips,
also, the above are all ceramic processes, and so I haven't written down the option of painting with "room temperature" paints, such as acrylics,

So in Practical terms, what I'm wanting to do is make a series of test tiles in order to find the sequences and combinations that create the color and texture that I desire in the finished pieces.
What I'm hoping to avoid are the several hour test tiles, -- those pieces that one blithely works through, assuming that what one envisions will really happen..... then the colors turn out to be quite different than expected, the underglazes are transluscent instead of opaque, etc, etc,

Also, I need to make them based on the processes that I enjoy doing!
i.e.  I like to carve leather hard clay, brush on colors, sgraffito through color, dip in glazes,
I do not like to: handle it too much when raw-glazed (dusty, smudges) no lustres (smelly, toxic)

Although this seems really simple, it is actually a lot to keep in mind, and the number of test tiles increases exponentially when you want to answer a question!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Decorative Surfaces

I am quite interested in the surface decoration of pieces.
In the past, I concentrated mainly on three styles of pottery.
1. the low fire majolica, mostly red clay, white glossy glaze with overglaze painting using Mason Glaze stains. This was mostly for personal use at home.

 2.  the cone 6 porcellainous white stoneware:  it was a blend of P300 (porcelain) and M370(light colored stoneware), which I mixed myself because I had a pug mill.
The dark blue and white with gold trim:
this was thrown with quite clean profiles, and decorated with sgraffito patterns in the navy slip.  Glazed with a clear gloss and then a third firing to add the gold.  Note to self-- I don't want to do any more luster decorations--toxic fumes.
3. And the third main style was of course the bunny-ware.  Same cone 6 clay body, with an off-white satin glaze, with molded additions, overglaze decoration in pink, brown and greens using mason stain/glaze combo.

4. In addition, there was a smaller group of pots that turned out quite well.  The same cone 6 clay body, carved designs with a variety of blue, green and turquoise clear glazes, sometimes with white satin.  Usually a different color inside the pot than the outside.

Pottery Class

I'm enjoying the class that I am taking from the Clay Spot here in Savannah, taught by Mitzi Davis.  So far we've had 4 classes and I've also gone in on 3 other afternoons for the open studio time.
 It is really quite a lot of fun, and it has certainly re-awakened my love of working with clay.
I wondered what it would be like after a hiatus of 11 years-- what would come out this time..
I've thrown a little bit at the classes, with a cone 6 stoneware called Moon White.  It is nice to work with but I also want to try a more clear white clay body as well.
This time around, I suppose what surprises me most is that I'm really enjoying hand-building.  I didn't ever really explore any hand-built containers before.  I did some molding of little birds, fish and of course the rabbit additions, but not anything like vases or mugs.
However, in the past couple of weeks I seem to enjoy this, and am liking the look and feel of the items.

I'm also very impressed with the way you can explore on the internet.  It is fun to read some blogs from potters, and to follow up on artists who they mention by googling them and finding out if they have a web-site, blog, or are featured at some gallery.

We went to Asheville for a few days, and it was a lot of fun to go to the River Arts district to see working studios, and also go to some galleries.  It is also where Highwater clay supply is located, so I was able to go there and pick up some tools, underglazes and a couple of books.

Last night I glazed some test tiles, and did a little mishima with black slip on a couple of greenware pieces.
I also glazed 2 thrown pieces with a double glaze combination, hoping that it will break nicely over some simple carving. I also threw a few pieces-- some mugs that I think are too thin on the bottom and will probably crack, and a medium sized roundish bowl that I think will be fun to decorate if it makes it that far.
I set most of the greenware I made so far on the racks to be bisque fired.
I also brought home some clay to do a bit of hand-building this week since the studio will be closed while Lisa is attending NCECA in Seattle. 

Glazes from the Clay Spot

Glazes from the Clay spot:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My First post

This is my clay blog.  Having re-discovered clay, I am very excited, and have realized that a lot has changed in the past 11 years since I laid down my tools.
One of the wonderful things is that the internet has now made information and inspiration easy to obtain.  I have been browsing some other potter blogs and photos, and find that all really inspiring!
My main blog continues to be Periwinkle Quilting and Beyond, for other craft related info including quilting!