It’s been almost three weeks since my ceramics throwback and I went to MIY to glaze my piggy and my slab boxes. Sam and Hillary were there again and it was nice to see their friendly faces.
Sam got me set up with Stroke and Coat which is colored slip–diluted/watered down clay. I started first with the piggy. I wanted him to be a rich pink with white wings and darker pink accents on the ears, eyes, snout, smirk, and hooves. When the paint is first applied, it kind of looks like clay–it’s matte in finish, and chalky to the touch. But, after it fires, it will be glossy and rich in color, if you paint it well.
The important thing to remember with painting pottery is to apply at least three coats and evenly. This provides three opportunities for random slips of the paint brush and a royal mess-up! The corners of my little piggy’s wings went back and forth–pink, white, pink, white. And then there was the time I dunked the Melon-choly paintbrush into the Ivory Tower and pressed it firmly only one of the wings. Ahh! Sam reminded me, “Paint can be removed with a sponge very easily.” I cleaned the paintbrush and approached it again.
Perhaps the most difficult task is making sure that the coats are even. This is relatively easy to do on large areas–the piggy’s back, feet, and face–but in smaller spaces, like around the wings, I had to reduce the amount of paint to make the brush easier to control. I just hope I went over those areas enough to make the piggy even-coated. I also realized while painting that I’m glad I made deep indentations for the eyes, mouth, and wing texture. Each time I painted, I filled those grooves with a layer of paint and lost a bit of distinction. This was not something I knew to do in advance, I just lucked out. But it is something to remember for next time.
Similarly, I applied thinner coats to the pig’s tail–part of which broke off at some point after the firing process. I was very disappointed, but there is still enough of a curly-Q that it works. I quickly tried to get over it. Before I knew it, I was finishing my fourth coat on the wings.
Being Tolerant with Imperfection
With the two major colors done, it was time to emphasize the features: ears, eyes, snout, mouth, and hooves, using Pink-A-Dot, a mauve shade of reddish pink. This was nerve-racking because with such small details and the requirement of three coats (at least), I had to be sure that I didn’t spread the paint further and further. This is difficult to avoid, I learned. The first attempt at the mouth, for example, was PERFECT.
But then, when I went over it the second and third times, the stroke thickened and the smirk lost some of its edge. Still, I love the shape of the mouth. My little piggy says, “Yeah. I know what’s going on.” It’s a knowing smile, like a joke only she and I are in on.
I added the lines for the hooves as well and realized only just now that pigs have cloven hooves–meaning two, not four toes. For some reason, I didn’t really think about what pigs’ feet really look like. So, instead, my piggy has hippo feet. Oh well. I’m reminding myself more and more to be tolerant of imperfection. It’s my first clay painting since high school. I think I can give myself a break.
Dip-Glazing the Slab Boxes
With my piggy drying off to the side, I took some time to decide on dip glazes for my boxes. There is an entire wall of clay pieces that show the finish of the several glazes. In high school I was married to glossy blues so I took a chance and tried to find a matte green or brown.
Weathered Bronze presents a beautiful patina that is true to its name. I chose to glaze the larger box with this color. The smaller box I dipped twice, first in Shino (a matte cream) and then nutmeg (a rich, clay brown). The cream base allows for highlights of texture while the nutmeg brown falls into the counter relief (grooves).
Just like the paints, the dip glazes look chalky when applied. But, they will look very different after being fired. Right now, they make me hungry for Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream!
Last-Minute Question Becomes Glass Fusion Project
I cleaned up after myself and remembered that I wanted to ask Sam about a glazing technique I had seen repeatedly in various situations. In fact, I had seen it again just days ago and emailed it to myself to remember to ask about. The effect is achieved by combining a crackle glaze with glass. But I thought maybe there was more to that. This tray was made by Junk2Funk.
I asked Sam, and her response surprise me: “It’s just glass. It will pool into any reservoirs on your piece, as long as they’re flat.” I asked her if I could do it with one of the pre-made ceramics that they have for painting and if I could use some scraps from the Glass Fusion studio in the next room. Sam, always the encouraging teacher, helped me to find a paint that would show contrast and where to find glass scraps that would work. I chose a ring holder from the pre-made ceramics shelves and painted it with Cotton Tail Speckled glaze–which is a base of white with speckles of all different colors. The speckles are subtle, but they would complement the glass, I hoped. They didn’t have the crackle glaze in the studio, but, even if they did, it is a high-fire glaze and the pre-made ceramics are only low-fire. So, we improvised with the speckled glaze.
Then I rooted around in the glass fusion studio. Sam suggested I stick to just a few colors, so I found an eye-catching aqua and an electric lime green in opaque glass–meaning you can’t see through it. I added six clear glass beads to make sure it shines.
It will look very different after it fires, much like the other pieces I glazed this evening. It’s exciting in a way–to not know exactly what it will look like until it’s fired. I have to let go of control and trust that the chemicals and the heat will make something beautiful of my work. Only 10-14 days and we will know for sure!