Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.
And we are off on another Art week…
Note: Since we’ll be setting up for the Tinicum Arts Festival on Friday, I’m posting this entry in the Diary a day early. I’ll include show info from Friday, July 6, in next week’s post.
Friday, June 29 – I know it was part of last week, but I’ll show you the first attempt at clay sgraffito (look at last week’s post if you wonder what I’m talking about).
The underglaze dried on the tiles I had laid out – no longer shiny but instead dry to the touch. (Note – this photo is from Saturday, but, you get the idea).
I did not have the tool the You Tube video recommended so I made do with these small loop tools.
Then I set to work. I realized fairly soon that the process is a lot like doing linoleum block print carving – it’s a subtractive rather than an additive process. I also learned that there is no need to dig hard into the clay. A light touch is better. I ended up with these tiles. Not great, but then, let’s face it, I never did this before, in this manner!
Saturday, June 30 – We stopped by the Ceramic Shop in Norristown, PA, to get the tool that was recommended by the video. You may remember this store from the Art Diary of a few weeks ago. Here’s what I got – I’ve already forgotten its name, but it has a curved end and a straight one.
I went through the process of putting five coats of underglaze on tiles and letting it dry. Then I set to work. I had decided to make figures sort of like ones I had done in ink from the figure drawing book I mentioned earlier this year in the Diary.
The new tool really made a difference. I was better able to control the cutting process. As I said, all that’s needed is to remove the underglaze and the slightest bit of clay, so that the white clay is exposed. There is no need to strip away deep into the tile. In the end I had these figures:
It’s also recommended to use a clay with no grog (larger clay particles that make it hold together better, used for sculpture or tiles), but – I have clay with grog, and since I use it for a sculpture or tiles much more than sgraffito, I worked with it. I can see it would be a little easier to make clean lines with a more plastic clay, but…I’m happy with this direction I’m going, for now.
I also spent time in the studio today. I have a long-term project that I am embarking on, and I cannot reveal it until after I have completed it – it is a commission. I will show you hints of it, though, so you know that I am doing…something…
Sunday, July 1 – More sgraffito tiles in process.
Monday, July 2 – This week is shaping up to be another choppy one for art, I think. My computer fell ill on Sunday and so it’s off being fixed; shouldn’t be long but I was confused by not having it. My mental flurry was compounded by the need to deal with state bureaucracy involving my sales tax license (which I’ve had since the 90’s, do not owe money on, and yet is tangled in a snafu that the people at the state say they can’t figure out who should help me. We have now enlisted the aid of our elected state rep’s office to maneuver through the red tape after submitting paperwork and hours on the phone. Ugh. Nothing major, but taking a LOT of time. And not done yet.)
Paperwork is part of being an artist, too – that must be the lesson here?
Anyway. I decided to load the kiln. I won’t be running it for about ten days. I will not have many days at home over the next couple of weeks, and it is also not good for the kiln to be working in 95 F temperatures. But – the warm weather means that I can put items in the kiln that are not totally dry – they will be plenty ready by the time I get to firing.
I’ve got a different set-up this time. The tall woman figure has to stand on the bottom shelf. I had calculated her height, when making the figure, for this situation.
This means I can use only half-shelves to stack up. I have just two – you can see that if I had more I’d have room to put more work in, but – I also estimated the number of items I could fit in pretty well – I’ve got everything in here that I’ve made since the last big firings a couple of months ago.
You can also see that I put in some terracotta clay “rocks” on the top shelf – they are darker because they have not dried at all. I will make sure they are ok before I fire the kiln, but ten days out here in the garage and I think they will be…DRY.
I also worked on my secret project a little…
Tuesday, July 3 – I had just enough time to work on these little paintings/drawings/whatevers. I’m heading them in the direction of the small images with text that you might remember from earlier. (Think Ogre Babies.) They are 6″ x 6″ and good for picking up when I have a little time.
Wednesday, July 4 – I spent the afternoon in the basement (the cool refreshing basement – it’s about 95 F outside) working on some more sgraffito tiles. This time I rolled out terracotta clay (actually yesterday, but you’ve seen enough shots of rolled out clay, I think…)
I put black glaze on most of them but I also decided to try some white.
I am wondering how the white will show up against the orange of the terracotta. Here’s how the tiles in white looked at the end of the session.
And here are the black ones. I have full confidence in this color scheme – I’ve made lots of black on terracotta clay and the results are strong and very striking, I think.
I wish I could fit these into the next kiln load but there is just no more room. I am sure they will be included soon, though – glaze loads are less tightly packed, because the items cannot be stacked, so that means the current bisque load in process will take 2-3 loads to work through with color, and these red tiles will slip in there.
I like how these turned out. I am getting more sure of myself in working in this way. I did do one thing wrong in this group – I forgot to keep the tiles under covers while I was working, and over the hours that passed, well, some dried out more than I should have let them. It was noticeable in the white ones – I left them until last.
It was harder to carve with precision and I found the tool scraping and bouncing at times. Also, the terracotta clay has a lot of grog (grit) in it, and that causes swerves when the tool hits.
Well, that’s all part of learning. I’m very happy with these results and I’ll be very interested to see how they and their white clay companions fire.
OK, that’s it for this week! Thank you for coming along with me.