Tag Archives: clay tiles

More Stories in Clay

Every clay tile I make tells a story, though I don’t have one in mind when I start out. I just make the tiles. What they say is up to them. And to you.

Yes, sounds very airy, but it’s true. No matter what I am thinking as I make the image, once it gets out into the world, it has its own reality. Each viewer decides what to see in it. I like that.

Here are some more tiles made in fall 2018. Commercially made terracotta tiles, colored with Velvet underglazes, fired at cone 06.

Bird lady.
Lingering fingers.
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Creatures Caught in the Act

I made a lot of clay tiles back in the fall of 2018. Now I’m getting around to showing them to you, a few at a time. Here are a couple of creatures.

Commercially-made terracotta tiles, colored with Velvet underglazes, fired at cone 06.

Eating lunch.
Snarling. Though without a lot of enthusiasm for it.

Black and Orange

Here are some recent sgraffito tiles. I try and I try but I never get photos of sgraffito tiles that do them justice. But I think you can get the idea of what they look like.

For info on the technique, look here. You’ll get the whole story on how to do this kind of work.

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending October 26

 

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

Art. Art. Art. Art. Art? Yes!

Saturday, October 20 – Last night I did some sofa art/paint color brochure drawings. I started on this large brochure:

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I’m creating people in the columns with their various body parts inspired by the paint names. Going to be kind of crazy.

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When I’m finished I might cut out the columns and do something with them, or even cut out the squares and mix and match. I’ll have to see what develops.

This afternoon, after a day of doing a lot of errands, I packed up clay for tomorrow’s show. It’s a very nice show, held at a local arboretum, and running from noon to 4 PM, more of an outing than anything else. Which is fine with me. I did the show last year and had a great time. I don’t need to take a lot since the show is such a short one.

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Sunday, October 21 – Today we participated in the Insider Art Show and Sale – we are insiders because we are members of the Arboretum. This event, which is very low-key, coincides with the open day for the mill and the Bloomfield Farm side of the arboretum, which are only open once a month.

We arrived, along with our friend John G., in plenty of time to set up. It was a very cold day for this time of year, about 40 degrees F, and with wind gusts of 30 MPH, it was just…cold. We decided not to set up the tent, as did pretty much everyone else, and we used the provided table. They make everything very simple for us here!

I took a quick walk around the education building. It’s designed to be very green, with a green roof and other features. I am always fascinated by how the equipment parking barn…

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…looks like this on the other side.

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I got my table set up. I did not bring a lot of work to this show. Just enough to fill the table.

Part of the appeal of this show is the demonstrations: Blacksmithing here –

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and the ever-popular animals from the local agricultural high school. This year they brought two two-month-old pigs and two sheep. The little pigs ran around like crazy for some time:

and then, worn out, they fell asleep.

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The crowds were lighter than usual. The weather was a real impediment.

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However, I enjoyed the show – I like talking to the other vendors, as there are some crafts you don’t often see in other shows, and I enjoyed the weaving and woodworking demos… and of course the animals. But I did have to stay all wrapped up all day (shout out to my sister, who made the hat I’m wearing…)

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This show was the last one of the outdoor season for me. And I think it’s time to be inside from now on!

Monday, October 22 –  I finished my sofa art paint brochure last night – I might decorate the photos in it now, don’t know…

In the afternoon, I worked on more Minuscule illustrations.

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I notice that my sketch book that I use for making quick estimations for the actual drawings is filling up. What can I do with these little vignettes, I wonder? I’ll set that thought aside for later.

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Tuesday, October 23 – More illustrations for my Minuscule book. Guess what – I reached story #75 and so I have a picture for each story. I will scan the remaining images I have in process, put them in the manuscript, and get to work on the overall corrections for the book. Pretty soon I think I will have a finished product! I feel good about this because I’ve been writing the little stories for a year and illustrating for several months. It’s been a project of getting a little done at a time and I’m looking forward to finishing and seeing how my first illustrated book turns out.

Wednesday, October 24 – In the aftermath of finishing the Minuscule work, plus the work I did for Fictive Dream and the September Slam, I’m ready to do a little something different. These two projects were a lot of drawing! I think collage, clay, and painting might be on the table for a little while now. (Then again, if I get an idea and I want to draw it…I can’t be held responsible for what happens next.)

After a project, I like to clean things up and have everything clear. This afternoon I spent some time going over the many, many fragments of drawings and the extra drawings I did for the Minuscule work. I have a LOT of leftover stuff – you may remember that I often made 3-4-5 versions of an illustration before I was happy.

I sorted out scraps and partial drawings and whole drawings and oh look here are some I colored with markers a little while ago…

I put them in envelopes to keep them better organized for when I want to work.

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I have a lot of partially done postcards and ATC’s that might fit with some of these items.

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And some I think might use in my Large Artist Sketchbook. It all just depends. I also dragged this sketchbook out of the pile – it’s one where I’ve practiced making ink figures, you’ve seen it in the past.

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Maybe it might like to be a version of Artist Sketchbook. I added it to the box I’m storing all these pieces in.

But I still have all those little painting things sitting on the table, plus two partially finished paintings, not large, 11″ x 14″. I have a feeling I will be working on these first. If for no other reason to clear the table!

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Friday, October 26 – Over the last few weeks and months, I’ve been reflecting on the directions I want to go in my artwork. It is time for change in my art, as there have been many changes in my life, especially in the last three or four months. A cycle is ending and a new one beginning, I feel.

 

It is all good, don’t get me wrong. I am ready to do some things differently. One decision I’ve made is to stop doing artwork for selling. I am not stopping doing art, and I’m not stopping shows – I’m stopping doing artwork specifically for sale. It’s a matter of how I frame things in my mind as well as the kind of work I do. It’s a form of retirement, I think – but I see it as freeing me to do some things (some of which I haven’t even imagined yet) that I might have restricted myself from in the past.

 

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I hope to spend time on new pursuits out in the world which I think will enhance my art explorations, and I want to do more writing/illustration projects. I have lots to look forward to, I think.

Now for this Diary. I created it to encourage myself to a more disciplined approach to making art – I needed to do a lot of work for my exhibit this summer and to catch up on making clay work. Both of these goals have been met. The Diary’s purpose has fulfilled itself, and so this will be the last edition of the Art Diary with its weekly round up.

You will be able to keep up with my doings, I feel, with my art posts, as always – I will keep you up to date with my projects, images, paintings, clay figurines, shows…you name it, just as I have always been doing.

I have enjoyed chronicling my work in this weekly Diary, but I no longer need or want to do so in this way. It’s important to know when things have served their purpose, I think, and when to move on. Thank all of you for reading it and for all your support and comments.

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

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending October 12

 

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

Art . Art plus. Art extra. More Art!

Saturday, October 6 – I gave all the clay items their undercoat of black, in preparation for becoming colorful. There is something appealing about them in this stage, though – very neat and classic look, black is, isn’t it?

I colored some 4″ x 4″ commercially made terracotta tiles in preparation for – something…

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Let me catch you up to date on my listening habits right now. I always have music or an audio book going when I am working. I can have an art stream of thought and listen to a book or music at the same time. I cannot talk and do art, though. Interesting.

I’m reading –

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and listening –

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Sunday, October 7 – This day looks like yesterday, only with more color…

Monday, October 8 – I meant to do some work on tiles but instead I had some more quality time with this painting. When you don’t know where you are going and you aren’t too picky about it, either, well, a painting can become a whole lot of things along the way to its finish.

And a couple of details.

Wednesday, October 10 – That painting again. I’m deciding to be finished with it. I feel the people in it are begging me to stop bothering them.

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I packed these tiles away in their boxes in the basement, awaiting a show. Since I work on them in the basement and the kiln is up in the garage, I transport items around in a variety of containers – these old baking sheets are very useful.

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Thursday, October 11 – Last night I did some sofa art – cut out some figures and so on, and worked on a page in my current Large Artist Sketchbook.

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This morning, I had a block of time – usually I like to exercise in the morning, but today I have a doctor’s appointment at noon and could not make the schedule work out. So I spent it doing some art. First, I got the box I keep the (growing number of) odds and ends and arranged it.

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I wanted to get things in more order so that I could do some sofa art and then, when it gets to that stage, I’ll be ready with a lot of postcards and ATC’s to finish up in the studio. I’m sure you see some familiar things from earlier Diary entries.

I had unwrapped this set of 24 5″ x 7″ canvas boards I had bought – they are the cheapest possible grouping, 24 for about $10. Today I looked them over, anticipating…
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I plan to paint them with acrylics and then draw over them with a pen, sort of how I did with these items you saw not long ago:

You may remember that they were originally paintings, giveaway items that did not get given away – so I gave them another life. I loved doing it and I wanted to do more, so – the next step is to paint these little canvases I have with colorful backgrounds.

After I did this organizing I went to the basement to do some more color work on my clay items:

After my appointment I came home and finished them up. Now they are ready for firing.

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Friday, October 12 – I loaded up the kiln, on a whim, and got that firing done. It took little time because I put so little into the kiln – I just wanted to get the things done that you see on the table from yesterday. No photos. Just imagine the kiln and the really really hot and the clay turning colorful.

I returned to my Minuscule project – I have gotten the whole book’s text all set up and now I want to get the illustrations done. I am using India ink and a Chines brush. I often do three-four-five versions of the same illustration.

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I do this because I do better work when I have free confident strokes of the pen or brush, and that never happens if I pencil something in and then follow it. I know it may sound like a lot of extra effort, but – I enjoy it, I’m not in a hurry, and ink and paper are cheap, at least my versions are! Sometimes I will rehearse a composition (I have a separate notebook for that purpose) and then, darn it, the rehearsal is better than the real performance.

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Well, that’s fine – since these pictures are getting scanned, it doesn’t matter what the original is like, exactly. And then sometimes, I get the picture right on the first try.

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Sometimes I feel as if the inspiration is coming in on some radio waves or the like, and maybe the signal is stronger at times and staticky at others. Well, let’s just say it’s all a mystery, right?

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

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending October 5

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

Art every day and all week.

Saturday, September 29 – This afternoon we took a trip to the Ceramic Shop in Norristown, PA. I needed some underglazes. This store is always a treasure trove. I worked my way past the shelves of glazes:

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…stopping to look some over, for future projects, before I came to the Velvet underglaze display and chose my items.

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After that I wandered around the store a little. As always, I am fascinated by the huge array of tools that can be used in clay work.

Here is a sample board showing various clay bodies sold here. Different clays fire in different temperature ranges and are additionally of different consistencies – some very smooth, some gritty. It all depends on your purpose as to what clay you chose to work with. Additionally, each clay can be fired within a range of temperatures – the different samples show the same clay fired at various levels. As you can see, this display is very useful in choosing clay.

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Here you see a selection of kiln shelves. Since each firing requires the shelves to be configured to fit the clay work being fired, there are a lot of choices.

Here is a display of pyrometric cones. You may remember me as describing a clay item as being fired at “Cone 06” or that kind of thing. Before computerized controls, each firing required the use of a pyrometric cone, created to be specific to a firing temperature, which was designed to bend or slump when the correct temperature was reached (you needed to view the cone through the peephole in the kiln wall).

These cones are still used today, even in computerized firings, for a variety of reasons – to make sure a certain item gets to the correct temperature, as kilns can have hot or cold spots; or to check that the kiln’s controls are accurate, for instance. I don’t use them, as my work is not that temperature-specific and my kiln has computerized controls – but obviously lots of people do. There is a large display of them here.

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Sunday, September 30 – My husband and I went to a play this afternoon at Allen’s Lane Art Center. You may remember other productions we’ve seen here – it’s a small theater and the seating is cafe style. This show was lightly attended, being a Sunday matinee, and we got a place right up on the edge of the stage.

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I got out my trusty sketchbook:

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but I didn’t have much time for drawing the audience as I usually do here, because I was downstairs for some time chatting with my friend Lisa, who runs the box office. Just saying. Anyway, here are a few quick things:

Monday, October 1 – I fired up the kiln. It may look like it’s just sitting and doing nothing, but that number on the front means it’s 1200+ degrees F inside. And that’s not the whole story – it will go up to about 1830 degrees…

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Let me back up a little. I forgot about these. Remember when I went through that box of little scraps last week? I pulled out some that I wanted to color. I’ve spent some of the last few evenings doing just that with my markers. I’ll figure out what happens next soon.

Back to today. I felt like slapping a little paint on a surface. I got out one of the 18″ x 24″ 1/8″ thick masonite boards I recently bought, as well as two of the 11″ x 14″. They have already been gessoed in black. I started working away. We’ll see what happens. I remind myself that the large board cost $3.50. I have nothing to lose.

Tuesday, October 2 – I opened the kiln.

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I was happy to see everything sitting in its place, nothing blown up, nothing fallen over. There is a variety of objects and tiles in this load. Tiles -(commercially made terracotta base):

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Sgraffito tiles – made from terracotta that I rolled out myself. I realized after I’d done them that they are only 1/4″ thick, and these days I like 3/8″ – but I was using up already-rolled clay, that’s why. Anyway, all good.

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Various figurines:

and remember this vessel? It came through the firing well – no seams opened up. I think I will do a little work on sanding some rough areas, and I’ll clean up the rim with a better black coat around it. Then I need to decide – will I glaze just the inside or the whole thing? Because for it to be functional the interior (at a minimum) must be glazed or it will not hold water.

Then there was this little stray tile…

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After congratulating myself and the clay items for completing a safe trip through the firing, I decided to go upstairs and work on that painting thing I’ve got going on. Today, I decided, would be ink day. I pretty much stuck to adding only India and acrylic inks to the picture, though I did put some more paint on, too.

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Where is this thing going?

Thursday, October 4 – First, a few more of those ink drawings turned colorful.

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I worked on the large painting. It continues to progress. Then I brought it upstairs to sit in front of me and let itself rest for a while.

I worked a little on the small painting, too. Really, all I did was to decide to turn it the other way around and to outline the person in ink, but…it’s still something…

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Friday, October 5 – I brought the recently fired clay into the laundry room/face painting venue to start the coloring process.

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Using Jet Black Velvet underglaze, I did my usual routine: paint the faces and other relief details in black and then wash off, leaving the color in the crevices.

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I got the whole gang done and set them on my work table. Next step: giving them a black coating all over their bodies to form the base for the bright colors I plan for them.

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I may do that this afternoon. Or I might work on that painting. Or I might sit on the sofa, watch TV, and finish up odds and ends of art tasks and paperwork. I don’t know. So I’ve decided to cut off this week’s Diary entry here. I’ll post this afternoon’s work (if I do any, as there is always option #4: I might just lie on the sofa and read) tomorrow. Happy end of the week!

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