Tag Archives: clay 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.

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.

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending July 6

 

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).

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I did not have the tool the You Tube video recommended so I made do with these small loop tools.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending June 29

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

Here we go with another week of Art!

Saturday, June 23 – I did a little work in the studio – first I did some more illustrations for my Minuscule story book.

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I always have some extras, some experiments, or some “use up the scrap paper” to save for some other project later on.

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I put some colors down on these 6″ x 6″ boards. I think eventually they will become some more of those sort of cartoon/painting things I’ve done a few of recently – think Ogre Babies.

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Monday, June 25 – I had a little time today to get to the basement and work on some clay. Here’s a tray of dried tiles from last week, ready to be fired.

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Here are some more plain puff people. Now I will have enough of them to experiment with color applications and see what I think looks best. Once they are fired, of course!

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I had some extra slabs, so I made some cats.

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And then the ever-popular clay rocks – these are formed from bits of clay that I feel are drying out too much to do anything with – I just form the clay into a rough shape and then tap it (hard) with a paddle. These items have to be very well-dried before they go into the kiln or they will explode, being solid. But since they are not very big, I don’t anticipate trouble.

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Tuesday, June 26 – this week is shaping up to be busy and choppy-scheduled. I grabbed a little time late in the afternoon to work on some more Minuscule illustrations.

I’m falling into a rhythm with these pictures. It seems to work best if I think of what I want, then just go right to trying to depict it, with the idea I’ll make a couple of tries (at least). So I’m ending up with alternates. Well, I’ll pick the one that I think works best for the book and the others will find their way into some other format – keep your eyes peeled in the future and see if you notice them showing up.

Thursday, June 28 – This art week is being fitted into nooks and crannies of time. I was out all afternoon and most of the morning I continued catching up on a lot of long-put-off computer-oriented things and paperwork (including entering a couple of fall shows). I did squeeze in a couple of small things.

I want to do some clay tiles incorporating the technique of sgraffito. All this means is, I want to scratch into the clay to make images. There are different ways of doing this. I looked at a couple of You Tube offerings to see what I could pick up. I’ve done sgraffito before but I thought I’d just check and see if I could improve previous results.

I rolled out some tiles in white clay.

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Pretty ordinary looking. Well, what I need to do is let them dry to a leather-hard state (leather-hard being clay talk for dried enough not to bend but still moist). Then I need to put 4-5 coats of Jet Black Velvet underglaze on them (I could use any color, and maybe I’ll switch around, but I am thinking a black/white finished look).

Then I’ll carve into them, removing black and leaving white behind, until I’m done. I’ll check these tonight before bedtime – they might be at leather-hard, or not, but no matter what, I’ll put them under plastic to stop the drying process and resume things at my next session.

Here’s an art-drop-off project getting ready – My husband spray-painted the lids of these pimiento jars black and then…

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I’m filling the jars with little wooden people I made about three years ago, I think. I will also add a little note telling the person who picks up the jar that it’s ok to take it home.

I bought the wooden people blanks from Dick Blick and decorated them into tiny women figures with acrylics and markers. I gave some away, and now I want to finish things off by leaving these out in the world. Maybe this weekend or next week.

Finally, I think I’ve completed my last group of edge-repainting. Good. I’m glad that is all done.

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Friday, June 29 – A short little session (I was at Poetry Marathon today).

I got out my notes I took on sgraffito work in clay.

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My tiles are at a good stage for a trial. I took out four of them and started on the coats of underglaze. It takes time – there needs to be drying in between coats and at the last, it must be dry to touch.

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These are not. I got out a fan to blow on them. Drying will take time, here in the basement. That’s ok, I can do other things while I wait. I sprayed the remaining tiles with a little water to keep them from continuing to dry (they will do it even under the plastic).

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I’ll save the revelation of my first attempts at this technique for next week. So, until then…

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