Tag Archives: terracotta

Recent Clay Work #1 From May 2018

I’m going to show the latest load of clay items I did in this month – I’ll start here with these clay tiles, white or terracotta clay, @ 2″ x 2″, colored in Velvet underglazes, fired at cone 06.


Cat tiles made in January, 2018.

Clay tile cats #1 1-18001

I like cats.

Yes, I do.

Clay tiles three cats 1-18001

Who Am I, and Who are You?

Yes, you may ask that question, and what answer will you hear?

Clay tiles.  The first one is 4″ x 4″, Velvet underglaze on commercially made terracotta, January, 2018. The second one is the same, except for the tile is handmade terracotta, @ 3″ x 7″.


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.

AD 1-27 #4001

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.
AD 1-29 #1012

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.

AD 1-29 #12001

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.

AD 1-29 #11002

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.

AD 1-30 #3003

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.

AD 1-30 #4002

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.

AD 1-30 #5001

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.

AD 1-31 #1002

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.

AD 1-31 #2001

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.

AD 2-2 #8005

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.

AD 2-2 #7006

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.

Artifacts Found at My House -Two

Here are the remaining “artifact” tiles I mentioned in the earlier post. These tiles are the terracotta version.

I stopped after the step in which I washed on Velvet underglaze Jet Black and fired them at cone 06.

Here are the finished tiles. I like the strong contrast between the clay color and the black underglaze.

I am more likely to try this kind of tile-making than the colored/glazed versions. I like the look and the process and I could get interested in what items I use to stamp into the clay. I especially likethe one in which I used the sawn-off end of a split tree branch.

I like doing other clay things better, though, so…we’ll see. Add this one to the archives and I’ll always be able to try it again later if I want to, right?

Faces in Clay – One

Here are clay tiles I made in October, 2017.

I made my own tiles from terracotta clay (I mention this because sometimes I use commercially-made tiles). I roll out the clay, cut it into approximately 6″ squares, and fire it once at cone 06.

Then I use Velvet underglazes to created the faces. First I apply a layer of black and let it dry. Then I add the colors. I scratch through them when they are still wet to reveal the black (the thin lines you see); I also leave space between colors (the larger black irregular areas). I don’t draw anything out beforehand – I just go right to it.

Another firing at cone 06 and we’re done. Faces looking at you!

Artifact Tiles – Part 1

A few weeks ago, I was buying some clay at the Ceramic Shop in Norristown, PA. My attention was attracted by a display of sample tiles for Amaco Lead-Free Low-Fire Opalescent Glazes.

I mention the whole name so that you can look it up if you want. I’ll do my best to describe it in concise terms – these glazes are designed to “break”, meaning they are used on tiles with relief, the glaze color collecting in the low spots and the underlying clay or underglaze color revealed in the higher areas.

I was intrigued. I thought I’d buy a couple of jars of it (I chose Bluebell, a turquoise color, and Transparent Pearl, a white) and see if I could make anything of it.

My first thought was to make relief tiles similar to ones from the past – here is an example:

But I didn’t want to go back to doing something I feel I’ve done enough of. My more recent tiles have resembled small paintings:

and I enjoy doing them. I don’t want to move away from this style of working. I like the process of making them and I like the results.

Still, I was curious and it doesn’t hurt to try out something new. If nothing else, I’d know to stay away from this line of inquiry in the future!

I needed to think about my work process. The product literature emphasized that these glazes were to be used on items with relief – there is no point in using this kind of glaze on a flat surface as the breaking effect will not occur.

It also recommended using terracotta clay or else doing an underpainting with an underglaze color. Well, I had plenty of Velvet underglaze on hand – that’s what I have used for years in all my tile work.

All right. Now what would my tile designs look like? I was not sure how much small detail would survive in this process. I have found that glaze tends to smooth out details. I decided to try impressing various objects in clay, making marks of various depths, patterns, and sizes to get some idea of how things might work.

I rolled out both terracotta and a white clay (both are low-fire, or earthenware, clays and are suitable for use with these glazes. As you may know, clay and glazes have to match as far as firing temperature). I pulled out a box of odds and ends and started pressing into the clays.

I did not worry about the shape distortions of the tiles or invest much design sense. My goal was to make sure I had enough variety to get an idea of what looked best.

I ended up with a good array of tiles. They dried for about a week and then I fired them at cone 06 for their initial trip to the kiln. Here are the terracotta tiles:

and the white tiles.

Next, I tried to figure out how I’d manage the color/glaze combinations. I had two types of clay, two glazes, and a lot of Velvet underglazes. I thought about things for a while and made some lists.

Then I started putting on the underglazes.

I had an elaborate scheme to get as many samples as I could, but I got a little mixed up. Still, it worked out in the end all right. As I went along, I photographed each tile and made a list of the underglaze/glaze combination, so that later on I could see which ones worked and which were less successful.

I then separated the tiles into two glaze groups and put them on the table in these groups (20 being Bluebell and 10 being Transparent Pearl).

I glazed them, putting on three coats as recommended, and loaded them in the kiln, planning to fire them at Cone 05.

What happened? I’ll tell you…soon…

Ladies Who Are Friends

Here are some large clay women figurines I made in the fall of 2014. I say large, because I make smaller ones, but these ladies are only about 6″-7″ tall. I used terra cotta clay fired at cone 05. The colors come from Velvet underglazes applied when the clay was leather-hard, more or less, and then scratched into with a needle or loop tool.

I love making these figures. I love making their colorful outfits and choosing a little item for each woman to hold. And I love their faces – each one with something she’s just about to say, it always seems to me.

Tiny Homes

I love dollhouses and tiny homes. I made some of my own earlier in the fall, in clay. Little vignettes of rooms. I got the idea while idly playing with some left over pieces from making tiles. I formed a couple of little half-rooms and then I decided to furnish them.

I liked making these and I’ve got some more ready to go into the kiln soon.

The technique is easy. I make the rooms, let them dry, and bisque them. Then I used black  Velvet underglaze and painted it over the entire piece, and then washed it off. The black adhered to the incised lines. I then painted the various colors as I wanted, using Velvet underglazes.  I fired these at cone 05 (for the terracotta ones) or cone 5 (for the stoneware ones).

They are all quite small, maybe 2-4″ at most.

I Am Unique

This lady is about 3" tall or so. Terracotta clay with Velvet underglazes, fired at cone 05.

This lady is about 3″ tall or so. Terracotta clay with Velvet underglazes, fired at cone 05.

When I work in clay, I seem to be attracted to doing a series, or even several different series at the same time. I like exploring the individuality of similar items. So if I make one small figurine in a painted dress, you can be pretty sure there will be more. And more. Until one day I just get tired of them and stop. No more!

Once in a while, though, I make just one. Maybe I don’t keep going because the first one wasn’t interesting to me for some reason. Or, sometimes, one is just enough.

This figurine was composed of leftover pieces of clay from other items. She’s a little rectangle-box-shaped lady with four tiny feet.

Maybe I’ll make her some cousins and sisters someday. Not right now. I do like her, though.