Drop Tiles

In my studio clay class from fall and winter 2019-2020, we learned a technique  derived from the work of Natalie Blake. Our instructor showed us how.

First we rolled out coils and balls of clay and arranged them on a board.

Then, we dropped a slab of clay over them. The soft slab naturally created valleys and mountains depending on the clay pieces beneath them. We then emphasized those differences by pressing with our hands…or you could take the board and drop it on the floor a few more times (lots more fun).

Here’s what I mean. I don’t have any tiles in process. But here is the back of a fired tile done in this technique. You can see a couple of clay pieces still stuck to the back of the tile. It’s not always possible to get them off without breaking the fragile greenware (dried clay unfired) object and it doesn’t hurt anything for them to stay.

Clay tile detail from back drop tile 2-20

You can also see the impression of one blob I did remove.

Now here is the finished version of this tile. I dip glazed it for the coloring.

Drop Tile #1 2-20 5 x 7

Here are a couple more I did in the same method.

I created these tiles as explained above. Then I coated them with underglaze while still wet and carved lines in the contours. Then they were bisque fired. Then I splattered with with copper oxide wash and dip glazed them in a variety of colors, overlapping them.

That is how I achieved the richness of color. The chemicals in the glazes interact in so many ways. Here are closeups of the second tile.

I love the softness of the shapes of the tiles, and the unpredictability of the coloring, and how they combine in this method.

9 thoughts on “Drop Tiles

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      When our instructor demonstrated this, I flat out said, this is dumb and I’ll never do it, what is it good for? Well, I have since taken it all back (I told the teacher too, before we had to leave classes, and she got a laugh out of it). I think it is really well suited for organic calming tile esp. with the right glazes.

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    What a fun technique! I love the colours you chose for the glazes because, combined with the undulating forms, the pieces make me think of ripples and waves on water.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I like this technique a lot and it is very simple, plus it involves a lot of randomness which I always like. The artist whose work our teacher referred to do things in a different way than I see it, but that is once again the flexibility of the medium. To me right from the start I saw what you mention, water, or cloud movements, or sand on a beach, as what the form reminds me of, and so, that is how I will glaze them (this group being watery, that is just what I was thinking of).

  2. tierneycreates

    Sounds like a cool technique for making tiles. When I studied pottery a zillion years ago we did the drape mold technique to make pieces and that was awesome!
    The blue and green and brown glaze palettes are beautiful!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. When our teacher first demonstrated this particular technique I thought she was just nuts. But as I worked with it it took my mind in a different direction. We use drape molds in class and most people are making vessels and so on (I made hedgehogs, are you surprised). This has an element of randomness that then leads you in the direction the clay originally decided, I like that.

  3. Pingback: Derived From Drop Tiles | Claudia McGill and Her Art World

Comments are closed.