Tall Glazed Figurine

Here is a tall woman figurine that I made in my studio clay class in February 2020. You’ve seen figures like this one before – tall women. But they have been decorated in colorful patterns using underglazes.

As I have said before, the studio has different materials and I use a different clay there as well. There is a need for uniformity in firing temps and in glazes because dozens of students are having their work fired, and so things need to be organized. That’s worked out nicely for me in forcing me to try some new things.

I created this lady, about 14″ tall, in my usual way via a cylinder shape, using Standard clay #112 fired at Cone 6.

She was bisqued and I put an iron oxide wash on her head and arms. I waxed these areas to form a resist and then I dip-glazed her, overlapping some colors. I also poured glaze over her middle section (there are only so many times you can dip an object in glaze before it becomes too thick to fire correctly and I wanted more than a couple of colors on her).

The natural color of the clay shows through in her bottom section. I am not sure exactly why, I think I did not stir whatever glaze I used in that section enough to  mix thing well. Sometimes things happen and we do not understand…but I like how it turned out, anyway.

House at Norristown Farm Park

Maybe three or so weeks ago my husband and I took a walk in Norristown Farm Park. You can read about it here on my personal blog, Sometimes You Get So Confused.

We did some art drop offs and took photos. Some were of this house on the park’s property. I took my favorite shots and drew vignettes in a sketchbook at home. Here’s the array of drawings:

House at Norristown Farm Park 3-20 four views001

And here are the photos that inspired them.


ATC Advice Maybe You Are Too Much Inside Your Own Head

ATC Advice is my own category for this kind of ATC card. Simple to make. Make an ATC. Put a phrase cut from print on it. Pick the phrase at random; do not try to match it to the card.

Read the words, look at the picture, and see what you get from the juxtaposition.

You may be surprised. The ATC Advice method quite often offers something astute or insightful or maybe just head-scratching.


Minuscule Illustrations: Anticlimax

In October 2017 I came across an internet blog challenge for a story written in two sentences. I wrote a story. Liking the format, I did another one. Another one. And another.

Quite a few stories later, I had enough for a book. Not only did I have stories, but I had written a short poem and created a brush and India ink illustration for each one as well.

The result was Minuscule, published in 2018. I’m now going to show you the book illustrations as an ongoing feature on this blog, once a week. I’ll link back to the story (they have been published one by one on my poetry blog).

If you want to hold the entire book in your hand, the print version is available on Amazon.

“Anticlimax” is the name of the story…

Look here to read it.

Minuscule #60 Anticlimax 10-1857


Tile Project – Let’s See the Results!

The tile project I’ve been working on for the past few days has been glaze-fired and the results are in. I will show you in just a minute. First, a couple of comments:

  • This project completed itself in no time flat, when usually clay projects take weeks to go through the processes. This one was quick because
    • I used already bisque-fired commercially-made tiles – I did not have to form them, wait for them to dry, and fire them.
    • I could underglaze the tiles one day, glaze them the next. Often I don’t have time to get the steps done so closely together.
    • I had a large enough project to fill a kiln. Glazed tiles take a lot of room in the kiln – they must not touch each other nor can they be stacked. So, this time I did not have to wait for enough items to make a reasonable kiln load – I had plenty, given those requirements. Full speed ahead!
  • I mentioned my worries about the tiles sticking to the kiln shelves. No problems at all. Let me show you three samples that reveal the situations that emerged:

Tiles examples - back - 3-20001

The top tile cleaned up well, the wax did its job, and there were no glaze blobs to speak of in the indentations and none on the raised areas. This is a best result.

The next tile, bottom left, had glaze blobs in indentations and on raised areas. The white parts are where the kiln wash pulled off the shelf. No damage to anything, but it’s unsightly. Note: the red color is underglaze that somehow got onto the back of the tile. It does not adhere to shelves, and though I usually clean the backs of tiles to remove underglaze, I must have missed this one. It just looks messy, but is not a problem.

The third tile shows glaze blobs in the indentations but nothing on the raised areas, so there was no kiln wash adhered to the back. It’s imperfect but acceptable.

Remember that if these tiles were intended to be adhered to a wall, none of this would matter. The tiles could be set and do just fine. It’s when you want to sell the tiles as an item of decor that the back starts to matter. People look at both sides when they buy, in those situations.

Now… Time to see the tiles.

Note: I am not a good art photographer and my aim was to make photos that do a decent job of portraying the tile, but I am not great with reflections and so on. I did my best, and I think you can see enough to get an idea.

If you’ve got any questions about a specific tile, as to how I achieved the effects you see, just ask a question in the comments!

Here are the bird tiles, as individuals:

and a group shot:

Clay Bird Tiles 3-20 Group013

Here are the head tiles as individuals:

and a group shot:

Clay Head Tiles Group 3-20 4x4001

Well, that’s it. Soon I will be taking them around with me to leave out in the world. If you follow my personal blog (Sometimes You Get So Confused), where I post my art drop-offs, you may see where they end up.

Thanks for going along with me in this tile journey.

Drop Tiles

In my studio clay class from fall and winter 2019-2020, we learned a technique  derived from the work of Natalie Blake. Our instructor showed us how.

First we rolled out coils and balls of clay and arranged them on a board.

Then, we dropped a slab of clay over them. The soft slab naturally created valleys and mountains depending on the clay pieces beneath them. We then emphasized those differences by pressing with our hands…or you could take the board and drop it on the floor a few more times (lots more fun).

Here’s what I mean. I don’t have any tiles in process. But here is the back of a fired tile done in this technique. You can see a couple of clay pieces still stuck to the back of the tile. It’s not always possible to get them off without breaking the fragile greenware (dried clay unfired) object and it doesn’t hurt anything for them to stay.

Clay tile detail from back drop tile 2-20

You can also see the impression of one blob I did remove.

Now here is the finished version of this tile. I dip glazed it for the coloring.

Drop Tile #1 2-20 5 x 7

Here are a couple more I did in the same method.

I created these tiles as explained above. Then I coated them with underglaze while still wet and carved lines in the contours. Then they were bisque fired. Then I splattered with with copper oxide wash and dip glazed them in a variety of colors, overlapping them.

That is how I achieved the richness of color. The chemicals in the glazes interact in so many ways. Here are closeups of the second tile.

I love the softness of the shapes of the tiles, and the unpredictability of the coloring, and how they combine in this method.

Tile Project – Let’s Glaze

I told you about a tile project I’m working on right now – I will be making tiles for art drop-offs around my neighborhood (wherever I can walk to, pretty much). I have done art drop-offs for years (look at my personal blog, Sometimes You Get So Confused, to see what I mean).

I had some commercially made tiles that I knew I wasn’t going to use in other projects – they might sit in my studio forever, maybe. I didn’t want to waste them, and I decided to use them to make simple artworks that might make someone smile. Including me.

Look here for Part 1 of the creation process. Here I will show you the glazing process, which took place on March 27. Take a look at my overall setup in the studio.

Tiles 5 3-20001

I’ve got a dilemma as to how to glaze these tiles. I want to dip glaze them. The process makes a smooth beautiful finish to the face of the tile. Usually I’d just wax the backs of the tiles (to form a resist) and dip the tiles, washing off any little glaze specks lingering (because glaze will adhere to the kiln shelves in firing).

But, these tiles have a raised grid pattern on the back. This helps to bond them firmly to the wall or surface when used with thin-set mortar. And these tiles were manufactured with that purpose in mind.

But, it presents a problem. Or two. One, how to most efficiently wax the backs? Two, how to clean the backs well enough they would not stick to the kiln shelves in firing?

And how about Three? Should I attempt to glaze the fronts and leave the back bare? If so, how would I do it?

Well, after some thought, I decided to wax the backs. And then to do my best to clean them. Here is what I did. I took the liquid wax (it comes in a bottle and is quite runny, but dries almost immediate when applied to the tile.

I poured a small amount in a shallow container, like this:

Tiles 2 3-20004

I carefully lowered the back of the tile into the wax, and equally carefully carried it to stand on end for a bit, to dry. Here you can see tiles standing up and the backs of tiles whose wax has dried (They are the brighter green ones and show the grid pattern.)

Tiles 3-20005

Remember Option Three, glaze the fronts and leave the back bare? I would have used a shallow container for this process, but filled it with glaze instead. I decided not to go this way because I was afraid I could not get a nice smooth coating of glaze nor keep it from dripping to the back. Others can do this, but I do not have the skill for it. So wax the backs it was.

Once the wax dried, I dip glazed the tiles in my bucket of clear glaze. You hold your hands under the tile facing up, lower it into the glaze, swish one two three, and raise it, slightly angling it to let excess glaze run off.

Tiles 4 3-20002

Then I took each tile to the table to dry. Here is the same photo as above, with the glazed tiles in aqua.

Tiles 3-20005

You know, glazing this way is messy. You are in glaze up to your wrists. The tile continues to drip on its way to the table and you do too. I guess I could have put my table closer to my glaze bucket? Right? Guess I didn’t think of it until too late. Whole lot of drips on the floor.

Tiles 3 3-20003

Well, the floor needed a mopping anyway.

When I had accumulated a certain number of dried glazed tiles I turned them over to clean the corrugated back as best I could. I made sure that the parts in contact with the kiln shelf were wiped well. But I could not get glaze out of all the crevices.

I understood that these left-behind glaze bits could drip in firing and adhere to the kiln shelf. I felt I could take the chance because the glaze amounts were small, and…I have kiln washed my shelves (meaning I have painted them with a substance that serves as a pull-away coating for the surface of the shelf).

If there are drips, the kiln wash will be stuck to the back of the tile, but it will allow the tile to pull away from the shelf, though leaving a white blob of kiln wash glued to the tile. If I were selling these tiles, it would be disfiguring enough to reject the tile. For this project, I figure, it does not matter. No one will care about the backs of the tiles, I think.

After cleaning the tiles, I loaded the kiln. I fired it on March 28. I plan to unload the kiln later today, March 29. And I will let you see what the results were of this process.