Category Archives: Tiles

Sgrafitto Tiles – Black and White – #1

Here are some of the sgrafitto tiles from July, 2018. My photos do not do them justice in that the contrast of black and white looks washed out and scruffy. I got tired of trying to figure out how to photo them and decided to put my time into improving my clay sgrafitto technique…

I learned a lot making these tiles and I’m pretty happy with them as a first attempt. I do like the weird figures I made and how the technique seemed to lead me in that direction.

Take a look…

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Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending August 10

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.


Art in all kinds of forms. Yes!

Sunday, August 5 – This week’s diary may be skimpy on information, I warn you. I plan to devote a lot of time to my secret project and I can give you only glimpses of it. I worked on it both days this weekend – here are those glimpses:

And here is what else I did. Odds and ends of clay work. I put my name and date on the backs of these sgraffito tiles. Now they are ready to be wrapped up and stored (soon as my ordered bubble wrap comes in…)

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I started coloring these tall figurines. They will be part of my next firing.

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And the small figurines I did late last week are drying. Notice how the color changes as the figures dry out.

Monday, August 6 – Some more work on those clay ladies…

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More work on the secret project.

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Tuesday, August 7 – My husband and I went to Allentown, PA, to drop off a painting for an upcoming exhibit at the Baum School of Art:

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That took no time. So we decided to walk up the Art Walk to eat lunch at a restaurant we’ve enjoyed in the past, Queen City BBQ. Here are some pictures of the Art Walk:

We stopped at the Dick Blick store on the way home.

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Now I am a devoted Blick customer but I do my shopping through the internet – the nearest store to me is in Center City Philadelphia and that’s not easy to get to. So when in Allentown we often take the opportunity to stop in here and browse. I bought a tube of paint, a sketchbook with gray pages, and some white acrylic ink as a treat for myself.

Wednesday, August 8 – These two ladies are finally done. Ready for firing.

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Thursday, August 9 – I priced these tiles and wrapped them up. Now they can be stored until I take them to a show.

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I loaded the kiln with the work that I have on hand. I may try a firing as soon as I get a cooler day (the kiln should not be run on 85 degree F +/- days, it doesn’t like it). This load is tiny but I don’t worry anymore about packing the kiln fully for a firing – I mostly want to keep the work flowing. I’ll check the weather and see what looks good. Anyway, even if I add more work, I’ve got this amount already set to go, that’s always a nice thing.

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Friday, August 10 – Well, this week didn’t go as planned, really – I have had ongoing family issues and some other hitches in the schedule. Hoping next week might hang together a little better.

This afternoon I did some work for my secret project – I can tell you that this aspect of it involved painting some papers. I used acrylic inks today, mostly:

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and I used acrylic paints, including the new one I bought on Tuesday in Allentown. I do love trying out a new paint. This one looks like I’m going to love having it in my paint workforce.

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I was painting at random to achieve my effects today – here are the things for the project:

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and here are some accidental byproducts that are extremely useful. I usually use a page from an old book to blot or spread inks or paint – today I used this one, from my childhood collection:

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Who knew the Bobbsey Twins could be so versatile as to still be hard at work solving mysteries and opening eyes right here in the art studio, 50 years after I purchased this volume? The paper is soft and absorbent but is not at the point of being so brittle that it crumbles. Here are the results. I’ll save them to use later.

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And, I’d like to mention, these papers were painted to the accompaniment of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, can’t say enough good about them – and then, my favorite radio program ever, Funky Friday on WXPN Philadelphia (Fridays 4-7 PM, just saying). You will always paint beautiful papers to the sounds of music that makes your feet move, believe me.

All right. I’ll finish up here and go listen to more music. Happy Friday!

See you next week! Thanks for following along with me.

Repeating

Sometimes I do another version of the same image. Here are couple of instances. I think you’ve seen all these images before, but not together.

(I think something went wrong with this post – I did it while back. And now I have no idea what I meant and it looks like some images are missing…so, just take a look at these for what they are, no theme at all!)

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending August 3

 

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Art. Art. Art.

Saturday, July 28 – First, a look at some paint brochure work I did while TV-watching on Friday night. I like to do this kind of thing for relaxation. I have a few brochures on hand pretty much all the time just for this purpose…I realized too late I was using a non-water-resistant pen and so there are some smears. Oh well. In order to preserve the images from harm, once I’d finished, I gave the page a spray with a matte varnish kind of thing that seals it.

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In the afternoon of Saturday I had time to work on coloring the set of figurines I had fired a couple of weeks ago. I was finishing some figures and clothing some naked ones:

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Here is where I ended the session (please excuse the blurred photo, I didn’t notice until later)

and a closer view of this larger guy:

Here are the in-process figures.

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You may say – where did those two small black figures come from, as I thought you’d started to color all of them? And you would be right. Sometimes, though, I get off on the wrong foot with designs or colors or whatever and then I never get back on track. I usually try to “fix” it and make things worse instead. It’s better to do what I did here – wash off the color, repaint a black base, and start over. I guarantee these people will be happier for this extra care.

Sunday, July 29 – I finished up the coloring of the remaining small figurines. I was right, they are happier with these new outfits.

I also did a few 2″ square tiles. They are perfect for using up color on the brush when I am working on larger projects. Here you see them getting their initial coat of Jet Black Velvet underglaze.

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These tall figurines are all that are left right now. They will need to wait for a different kiln firing as they need to be on the bottom shelf, because of their height.

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What about us?

I added the completed figurines to the kiln. It’s ready for a firing.

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A couple of notes about that kiln picture. That mint-green thing? I made a tray-like dish thing some time back. It has been sitting around for a while – it’s not really functional because it has not been glazed, only underglazed. You need a glazed surface on a functional item for health reasons – a non-glazed bowl, for instance, is not sealed so that bacteria can be washed off – instead, they can grow in the porous surface. Bad.

I decided to glaze this dish so that it could be used. The glaze is that green color. It will be a shiny clear when fired.

You also may recognize some sgraffito tiles. And you thought my assortment had all been fired? Yes, I had done so, but upon examination, in various tiles I saw small white flecks and other imperfections in the black color, where maybe clay crumbs had landed or some other thing was a little wrong. It occurred to me that I could repair these flaws quite easily. I touched them up with Jet Black underglaze (you can see where I did the repairs as a somewhat grayer-toned area) and put them in for another firing.

Last, I made some cylinder people. You know, they are very easy to construct – the time consuming part is in the color application. I’m currently really enjoying coloring (my version of adult coloring books, these figurines?) and I’ve decided to make a dozen or so of these to submit to the Baum School (Allentown, PA) holiday market that I participate in each winter.

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Monday, July 30 I had time for a few more cylinder people today.
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Also, I rolled out this slab of leftover terracotta clay. It was too dry to do much with. On impulse, I covered it with black underglaze and without even waiting for it to dry (a big no)I did this quick sgraffito image. We’ll see how that turns out.

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I also did a firing – no pictures of the kiln at work, but it was.

Tuesday, July 31 – I opened the kiln. Everything looks good
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except for that glazed dish.

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See the cloudiness at the bottom of the picture? I believe that it is a sign of glaze that did not completely vitrify. I had the idea this might happen – I fire my work at Cone 06, usually, and I think the glaze requires Cone 05 (which is hotter) to get the right results. I didn’t check the jar…I just kind of knew and did not want to know…)

I do not like to fire my underglaze work at Cone 05 – I think it burns out the colors just that little bit too much – meaning that they are darker and muddier. I think I’ll send the dish back through – nothing needs to be done to it – with a bisque load that I will fire at Cone 05. See what happens. If it still looks bad, into the trash it goes.

Wednesday, August 1 – Time continues to be short for art activities this week. I decided to unload the kiln and photograph the work – and to clean up the clay area and studio. I want to work on my secret project later this week and I need to get the area, and my head, clear and ready for ideas.

I photograph most of my work and always have done, even when I was making fabric collage work in the 90’s and did my photography using film. I had a plywood board covered in black fabric that I hung from a pipe in my basement; I set up lights and taped the works to the board in order to photograph them. I did not get very good results but at least I had a record of my work.

Urban View small

“Urban View”, fabric, 1990’s.

Now I use a digital camera and PhotoShop Elements to achieve my images. Today I was photgraphing clay – tiles and sculptures. For tiles, I lay them on a surface, usually white, but since I was doing white tiles as well today, I also used a black background.

I don’t photo each clay item I make – there are too many of them. I will post only the ones I like most and the rest, well, they go their way, wherever that might be, undocumented.

I took 112 photos today, of which I will probably keep 25% or so. I do know I’ll re-photo the terracotta/black sgraffito tiles – they were done with a back blackground but looked awful.

As far as sculptures, I usually set up a little stage like this:

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Two pieces of matboard on a chair. I set the item onstage and photo it.

Overall, I want to have a record of my work and I don’t worry much if the pictures are not all perfect. I just need a few really good ones to use in submitting to shows, and with all the things I make usually something comes out well enough to add to my application-worthy category.

I do think it is important to document my art, if for no other reason than that it represents a lifetime’s work and is valuable to me as a record of my past and how I have grown. I have thousands of images now and I am really glad I have taken the time (and it does take a lot of time) to create this archive.

Friday, August 3 – I finished up the week by working on some clay – new puff people and some mini-cylinder people – this time working in terracotta clay.

And that did it for today.

OK, that’s it for this week! Thank you for coming along with me.

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending July 27

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Art! Let’s do some art!

Saturday, July 21 – Last night I had the four paintings in progress upstairs in my living room, staring at me as I tried to watch TV and do a crossword puzzle. As you know, I put work in progress there in order to let it sort of soak in, let me see if I am done with the works or not. The answer for this group was – the beachgoer painting continued to bother me. Here’s how it was:

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Sometimes, it is better to start a painting over than to continue to work on it. When my husband said he thought the lady’s arm looked like a turkey leg (I had to agree), it was just the push I needed. I grabbed that painting and took it back downstairs to the studio.

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To me, the painting had too many problems. I judge my work by the feeling I get from it – I can only describe it as things being in balance. If the painting is not at that state, I have an uneasy feeling.

It sounds airy, I know. But years of doing art have taught me to listen to this feeling.

Not knowing where I was going with this painting had left me with a work that lacked that spark I want to see. In frustration, I revised the lady again. Still no good. In more frustration, I turned the painting 90 degrees. Now the lady was sitting in a beach chair. It seemed right. So here she is. I hope this will be it for this lady. I bet she does too.

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All right. On Saturday morning I stopped at the Ceramic Shop in Norristown to buy more underglazes.

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I wanted to start work on my recently fired figurines. You remember that I had prepared their faces last week. Here are puff people waiting for color.

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I’ve made this style of figurine before but never with color patterns applied in the fashion I am using today. I was not sure how things would go. I put Jet Black Velvet underglaze over their bodies, leaving their faces clear.

Then I applied color in patterns as usual. I think things went pretty well. Here they are at the end of the session.

I took them out and set them in the kiln (which is half-loaded with other work).

Sunday, July 22 – I worked on this painting for a little while. I am happier with it now, too.

Next, I went into the basement to work on some clay figurines. Today, the cats and some of the round women figures. I gave them their Jet Black Velvet underglaze base coat:

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Then I set to work. I did not finish them all, so I’ll continue with them and ad more to the crowd, maybe tomorrow. I also worked on the clay rocks.

Monday,July 23 – I decided to work on some illustrations for my anticipated Minuscule book. I’m making pictures to go along with the tiny stories and poems.

I usually make more than one version of the image idea I have chosen. I’m not always happy wit the first version, though I never know what I’m going to get with the second or later versions. I’m not the kind of artist who can do the same thing twice in a row. Sometimes that is good and sometimes less good. Luckily, these stories just need one picture. I choose the one I like best. Then, the discards, I either keep the whole picture, figuring I can do something else with it later – or I cut it up. I’m saving these pieces for collage works later on.

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Tuesday, July 24 – I worked on clay today. I finished up the color details from the figurines I was working on earlier in the week. Then I prepared this group:

to be colored later on, by giving them their initial coat of Jet Black Velvet underglaze.

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It takes time to apply the black around all the details of the figure while leaving neat edges and a good solid coat of underglaze. If I wanted to sell figures such as these in production, I would need to do some redesign so as to simplify and speed up this step. (I also probably would never do the amount of color detail work that I do).

Now, I might sell these, and I might give them away, but in either case, I don’t really care how long it takes me to do them. It’s not production, it’s really more for my enjoyment. So I’m good with the way they are designed.

Friday, July 27 – Some family issues that require my attention have come up over the past week, and so art has had to take a back seat. Depending on events, I’m sure I’ll be working on projects but I don’t know on what or how much. I’ll just see how it goes.

 

See you next week! Thanks for following along with me.

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending July 20

 

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Art. Your hands and mind work together as best friends. 

 Saturday, July 14 – I’m celebrating the conclusion of the last 7 or so weeks of busyness with shows and public events with my favorite activity – ordering my living and working space. It’s the first step in starting new projects. I got my studio in shape:

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I’m planning to work on some paintings. Like I need more of them! with so many that I made for the exhibit –  but – maybe I do. All but two of my current work are at the gallery exhibit until 8/31. Somehow I neglected to realize I have an art fair planned for August 25th. Oops. I also would like to enter a piece in an exhibit in August.

I’ll dig around here at home and improvise, but maybe three more paintings would not hurt? Besides paintings, I also have a couple of other projects on the go. So, a clean studio is a signal to get to work.

I also opened the kiln this afternoon. Take a look.

I’m really happy with what I can see – I was mostly wondering how the sgraffito tiles worked out. I’ll show them in more detail in their own post, but I can see that the contrast is good between clay and figures, the tiles are not warped (sometimes that happens in firing to tiles that look flat in the greenware state), and overall, well, I’m just happy!

It’s a whole different look from my bright tiles and I love that idea, too, another aspect of clay that I can participate in.

Sunday, July 15 – I worked on those paintings some more, in the afternoon. You can see that there are four of them now. That is enough. I’m coming up with some odd images. We’ll see where they go.

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Monday, July 16 – I decided to prepare the small clay figurines for the coloring process by doing their faces. Here’s the whole group before I start:

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I color their faces with Velvet underglaze, Jet Black. (These little people remind me of those sheep with black faces. Just saying.)

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Then I wash off color from the prominent spots, using a wet rag. The black color stays in the indentations. After I finished their faces, I did the same thing with their hands.

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Now they are ready for their color sessions.

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I did the rest of the figures in the same way.

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I also gave the “clay rocks” their coat of black – it forms the base for the colorful patterns I give to these items.

Tuesday, July 17 – From yesterday, I worked a little on that “secret project” I mentioned a week or two ago. Here is a snippet, just to represent effort:

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I also worked on a couple of the paintings from the group I started. The yellow shape one now has turned into trees. Kind of.

Wednesday, July 18 – I got in a little painting today. As you know, I’ve been working on those four paintings over the last week, a couple at a time. Today I took three of them into the studio. Two look pretty similar to how they appeared when I started today’s work but the one (that started out with three yellow things, moved into trees, and well, now it’s a beach with rocks on it…I think) underwent a lot of change.

Oh dear, sometimes I feel for my paintings, with their identity problems in early life…but I think these particular ones may have found their way. More or less. I’ll let them sit a few days and see.

Friday, July 20 – After spending yesterday at my weekly Poetry Marathon session, I decided today that it was time to wrap up these paintings. Two look finished to me. The other two I took back to the studio.

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I did just a few small things to this one:

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This next one, well, if you look back earlier in the week, it started out as three yellow things, became trees, then a sort of beach. I was getting annoyed with it by Wednesday’s end and so on Thursday, I got my husband to sand down the lower half of the painting. Because… I had an idea and I wanted a smooth surface to work on. I highly recommend sanding paintings off if they get lumpy and you hate what you are doing (this is a good reason to use board or masonite, if I think about it, because it won’t work on canvas…I find yet another way to enjoy my choices in life, this one being my love of board/masonite to paint on).

You also see a concrete example of what happens when I want to paint but don’t know what. I just keep going around in circles until – things resolve themselves. It’s always worked that way for me, so I trust the process and keep slapping on paint…

But I digress. At the end of today’s session, I have a beachgoer. Time to stop.

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I’ll set these paintings aside for a little while. I think next week I want to try some clay work. Some ink and Chinese brush. Some…well, we’ll see, won’t we?

OK, that’s it for this week! Thank you for coming along with me.