Tag Archives: clay

Clean Up

Here are a couple of home tiles. The living room is already orderly and now it is time to do the wash.

Velvet underglazes on handmade tiles, fired at cone 06, December, 2017.

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Mean Babies

A while back I made some tiles featuring “mean babies”, odd little persons who all seemed to have a belligerent look about them.

That’s become my name for any small tile featuring a person, usually with spaghetti arms and legs, no matter what their personality. These people do not necessarily look mean, but…they are mean babies, that’s that.

Velvet underglazes on lowfire clay, fired at cone 06, December, 2017.

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending February 16

 

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

More art. A new week.

February 9, evening – I made a couple more paper dolls. I think there will be still more to come.

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Saturday, February 10 – I loaded up the kiln with my assortment of mini-tiles with the idea of firing them the next day. With a bisque load (the first firing) – the tiles will emerge as ceramics after having gone in as dried mud. In this stage, I  could stack the tiles and arrange them tighter; they have no glaze on them to stick to each other –  and I would if I had a full load, but this small amount of work can be spread out, there’s plenty of space, so I used three full shelves and a half shelf, built up from the bottom of the kiln.

Here is a portrait of the hard-working kiln stilt. These items come in various heights and allow for a custom array of kiln shelves for each firing, depending on what is being fired.

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In the evening, I was tired, and we were watching the Olympics on TV – I needed something to occupy my hands. I have a couple of paint brochures, so I got one out, plus a white gel pen and a black ink pen.

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My idea was to make little drawings for each color square, the theme being that I’d draw what the color name inspired; and I needed both pens because some squares were dark and others light. I’ve done this kind of thing before.

But, it’s been some time. Now I wonder why I let myself forget about this activity. It’s lots of fun. I’m showing you just a bit of the two pages; I’ll do a post with better pictures when I’ve finished the other brochures I’ve got. These little pictures take some study.

Sunday, February 11 – I did fire the kiln today; results tomorrow. Otherwise, I worked on that mysterious collage project I have mentioned. I promise you will see the results in good time.

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When I cleaned up, well, there were some interesting sights on my table. Who would discard a perfectly good arm?

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I also want to mention a collage inspiration that I’ve used in the past and will certainly do so again. When I am working at collage, I am flipping through magazine pages, moving fast, and I slash or tear out the image or item I want, leaving irregular scrap-pages in my wake. The subsequent pages are peeking through these holes, that’s what is happening, and I have been struck by the compositions that result when I come upon the layers of pages in a calmer mood. Serendipity calling!

I cut around the layers, lift them out of the magazine as a whole, and glue them down. And there I have something nice, courtesy of — chance. Let me show you what I mean. I photographed some of these situations after this collage session. If I think of it I’ll go back and cut them out of the magazine.

Monday, February 12 – I opened the kiln. All good. Here’s a look at all four levels, top to bottom.

Now I’m ready to put some color on these tiles. I’ll be working on these for some time, I think. A nice meditative kind of work.

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Then I started on a new project. I had eight 4″ x 4″ gesso-primed cradled boards. I decided to make small paintings using a sheet of photos I had printed out as my reference.

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I chose eight of the nine views and quickly sketched on the boards in pencil. Oh no, I am thinking. This is not how I usually work. I generally just start right in with painting. Pencil sketching is how I make tiles. Well, that’s fine, but underglaze behaves differently from acrylic paint.

Well, I’ve got a dilemma now. How will I make this work out? I’ll figure things out as I go, I guess.

That’s in the future. Here is the overall group, laid out like the photo page:

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And here are the individual sketches, photographed in a hurry, but you get the idea:

Tuesday, February 13 – I worked on the small paintings.

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I will let these rest a bit, I think. I like how they are turning out. I found myself using smaller brushes than usual, that’s how I dealt with the small scale (I’m proud of myself for figuring that out, I am).

I also like the sketches I made to start them off, even though they are now obliterated – I might do a set of pen and ink drawings of the photos and make them into postcards.

Wednesday, February 14 – I was in the mood for some free-form painting today, as opposed to following a prepared plan as I did with the 4″ x 4″ group. I got out four gessoed 8″ x 8″ boards (I am using up the supplies that I have accumulated over time and there is a lot of variety in what I bought in the past, oh yes). These boards have 1 1/2 inch cradles, making a thicker profile than what I usually choose, so I guess I might have gotten these on sale?! Anyway:

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I decided to do two of my favorite motifs – faces and trees. I did some random paint application:

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Things progressed:

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and progressed:

and at the end of the session here is where we were.

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Paintings this small can go quickly when I’m in a free-form mood. I’ll take a look in the next couple of days and see what needs to be done to them to finish them.

Friday, February 16 – I worked on a variety of things this afternoon – my mind felt a little skittish. I painted ATC’s – whether these will stay this way or not, I don’t know, in the beginning I just paint.

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I might do some collage on these cards and I also have some other collage-ready surfaces, so I painted some papers, too.  In the past, late 1990’s and early 2000’s I made many collages using only papers that I had painted, usually in a more representational style. I don’t do that anymore (it had its run and then one day – enough) but I mention it to say that in those days I had many pages of painted sketch papers. Usually I’d do a whole sheet in each color or design – here I just wanted a little of a lot of colors, done very simply – no layering of colors or adding a lot of splatters or the like.

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I added a little bit to the current page in the current Artist Sketchbook I’ve got going – remember, this is where I put extra paint or papers or ink or whatever and try to turn it into something. I like this abstract composition and I might say it is finished.

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Finally, I selected one of the four portrait paintings I did the other day, obliterated the face, and did something different. Now I’ve got a little goblin creature who looks like he might just have eaten an unwary…something. I like him, though he might need a little more work. The other paintings,  I’m pretty happy with them, though I do think I was on a definite ogre/troll/gnome theme.

OK, that’s it for this week! Thanks for taking a look.

Chefs

For the past several years we have eaten Thanksgiving lunch at the Hotel Bethlehem in Bethlehem, PA. I can recommend it very highly.

One year I took a photo of the chef at the omelet-preparation area, and made a tile.

I did it again. And now, again. Here you see the tiles from 2015 and 2016, and now…2017. All are 6″ x 6″, done in Velvet underglazes, fired at cone 06.

Household Electronics

Back in January, 2018, I made these tiles – at that time I was working on a lot of them, and I did several small themed groups. This one features electronic items from around my house…plus a cat.

Clay tiles, 4″ x 4″, Velvet underglazes on commercially made terracotta tiles, fired at cone 06.

Here are the photos.

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending February 2

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

Here we embark on a new week and new art.

Saturday, January 27 – I opened the kiln. Everything came out fine. Always a relief. Compare the before and after shots. The tiles are more brilliant in their fired state.

Also, on Friday night as I was cleaning up, I took all my collage scraps and quickly and randomly glued them on to postcard-sized recycled cardboard. No thinking, just slapping on the acrylic medium and sticking on the papers. It looked like this:

On Saturday I trimmed them. I will use these later in a project of some kind.

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Sunday, January 28 – My husband and I took a walk in the mall before it opened. The weather was cold and rainy so we wanted to be inside for some exercise. I took a lot of photos of the store windows – I like reflections. Here are a couple of shots featuring shoes.

Monday, January 29 – I rearranged my schedule a little, as it looks like snow tomorrow, but I had some time to work on paintings and clay.

First. Paintings. I have three 6″x6″ boards to work on and two 8″x10″. I laid them out on my table.
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I like to work in groups, you know that. I decided the small pieces would feature animals and that I’d do the other two as different floors in a house. I just started in and got going. Here are the small paintings.

I’m going to have to wait and see how they develop, the animals, I mean. I feel a little out of my depth here, I don’t think I’ve done anything like this before.

The rooms are more inside my comfort zone. They will need a lot more work, too, though.

End of the painting day. I’m not sure I’ll keep the eyes on the animals or not. Or if I need to add some ink or crayon, maybe. I did like their blank faces. We will see.

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I spent a little time with clay as well. I have an idea to make a lot of  @ 2″x 2″ tiles with designs in underglaze. A giant series. I have some white and some terracotta clay in bags with about 1/4 left in each, that would be about 5-6 pounds. Not that much.

I am making slabs; then I am going to cut the slabs all into little squares, fire them, and then put simple geometric designs or maybe tiny faces on them as a kind of low-thinking and mentally restful project. It will take a long time.

Today I cut the white clay. I rolled it out on my slab roller.

I transferred the slabs to my work table and cut them with a needle tool. I’ll let these dry and work on terracotta clay another day.

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Tuesday, January 30 – We had a little bit of snow today, enough for me to decide to stay home and catch up on lots of home things. I took the assortment of recently made tiles upstairs to my living room and wrote my name on the back of each one – a task that needs to be done but is not too exciting. I indulged in an episode of vintage TV Perry Mason to help me through it.

I don’t store the tiles long-term in this manner; I wrap them in bubble wrap as they can damage each other’s colors if they bang against each other. I’ll do that step after I price each tile – another day.

In the afternoon I checked on my clay work. The tiles I had cut yesterday were at a good stage – stiff enough to handle, but not so dry that they had become brittle. I needed to clean up the edges of each one. I used a round sponge and wiped around each tile, putting some force into it. Now they will not have sharp edges or look unfinished when fired.

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This work is also pretty tedious. I listened to an audio book; I do that quite often when I’m making art. Somehow in my head I can separate the art thoughts from the book thoughts. I do like a good thriller – that’s mostly what I listen to.

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I then went through the same cutting-out process with the terracotta clay. I try not to move the tiles too much; if they are bent in the wet stage, they “remember” that and want to go back to it when fired, even if they look flat when they enter the kiln. Small tiles like this, though, are usually not much of a problem. I kept some slabs just as they were cut out but some tiles had to move so as to allow me to do more work on the table. That’s why you see this arrangement.

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Wednesday, January 31 – I was out a lot of the day so much not art time happened. I did clean the edges of all the terracotta tiles I did yesterday. Now I will wait for all these tiles to dry. I like to give them a couple of weeks. You can tell the clay is ready for the kiln when it no longer feels cool to the touch – I use that test and then I wait a little bit longer…to be sure.

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I took a moment to look over those 6″ x 6″ animal paintings. I decided they needed some India ink. I gave them some faces and made a start on background work. Just enough to see that I liked it. Once I finish up with the ink, well, who knows what is next? I have come to understand that these creatures will figure out their own destiny and tell me, not the other way around.

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Friday, February 2 – I spent the afternoon finishing up some projects and starting new ones. First, the starting: I had a cradled masonite board in storage, 36″ x 24″, which is very large for me. I don’t make many paintings this size, but I sold two in these dimensions last year and so I just got the feeling of wanting to make another large one. I do not know what I will paint on it. Luckily, today all I had to do was prepare it.

I sanded the masonite surface (forgive the bad picture) to give the surface some tooth for the gesso to hang on to. Then – I gessoed it.

It spent the afternoon drying. I’ll get to work on it in the next week, I think.

I finished up the small animal paintings.

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I added India ink and crayon details.

Blots and irregularities are welcome.

Now I think these animal paintings are pretty much done. I also worked on the “home” paintings and I also feel they are close to being finished. I’ll let both of these sets of paintings come upstairs and sit in my living room for a few days to see what I think.

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And just for fun I made some paper dolls while watching TV at night this week. Haven’t done it for a while and I was glad to get back to them. I am sure there will be more of them soon.

Well, that’s it for this week. On to the next. Happy Art.