Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Adventures in Ceramics

Since the purchase of our 'new' 1999 motor home, we have wanted to see the USA and do craft and art shows to subsidize our travels. To build an inventory large enough to support the cost of diesel fuel, we needed to be able to make a fairly large inventory of assorted products. Thinking that ceramics might be a good idea, that's where we started.

I love OOAK's (One Of A Kind), but it also very satisfying to be able to produce a line of products. For this first original ceramic project, we chose to make a hummingbird bud vase with leaves and trumpet blossoms.

To make this bud vase, Joe cut the top of a glass champagne flute from it's stem, leaving only the slender glass top. Using Super Sculpey and Sweetbrier Studio™ mold #1011 "Hummingbird Lane" that I sculpted and designed in 2006, I added a clay base of leaves and flowers; a hummingbird in flight to the side and a spray of flowers at the top using super glue. Some of the parts are molded but the rest of the design is sculpted in and around the molded parts. After baking and sealing the polymer clay, we made a ceramic mold.

From this first mold we have cast 15 bud vases. Currently we are working on a variety of color designs. Above are the first four color schemes. The colors in the first two designs were painted onto the greenware (unfired clay). The next two designs were fired to bisque and then the color added. The last design has no color at all.

The first design is a watercolor effect, the colors being thinned to allow the white bisque to show through, with a deep, Hunter Green background. The second color design is full cover paint in lifelike colors.

The second two designs are monochromatic; one color on the white bisque background. The color is painted onto the bisque, allowed to dry and then most of the color is wiped away with a damp cloth. The color left in the detail reveals the sculpted design. It's a very effective finish called "antiquing". Of the two colors, our family and friends like the purple best.

The last design is pure white bisque. The all white vase is rather plain and may get a fired coat of mother of pearl.

After the colors are dry, three coats of high gloss glaze is painted onto all of the bisque designs, including the vase with no color, and fired in the kiln to seal and protect the finishes. Food safe glaze is used on all of our ceramics.

We are continuing to design color for the vases and will post the new pictures soon.


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