Tag Archives: sgraffito

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.

Terra Cotta Sgraffito #3

Here’s a third set of sgraffito tiles from July 2018 – this time in terra cotta with the Velvet Jet Black underglaze.

I repeat my apology for the quality of these photos. I wish you could see them in person; they show themselves off much better.

 

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending September 21

 

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

Let’s say hello and do some Art!

Saturday, September 15 – Today was the day to find out if my brainstorm on how to store my clay work so that I could pack for a show without stress was really any good. And I am happy to say it was. At tomorrow’s show I will take two six-foot tables and I chose my inventory to fill that space. I took about 30 tiles, a box of small tiles, and all my current figurines. They fit into these boxes:

AD 9-15 #101

I am thinking I might want to make a little more clay work after all for this fall season. However, in all of my following clay shows I will have no more than an 8-foot table to work with. I probably don’t have to worry. Still, going through my things, I did have a little itch to make some more figurines and tiles… So we will see.

Sunday, September 16 – We spent the day at the Pennridge Gallery of the Arts outdoor show. It takes place along Main Street in Sellersville, PA, about 25 mile from our house. Sellersville is a town that began its existence in the middle of farmlands but now, decades and centuries later, is now being touched by suburbia. The show is part of the town’s efforts to showcase its downtown features.

We arrived a little before eight AM and got into line at the fire house. This show’s set up routine is elaborate but works well. Artists arrive first, pick up space assignments, and proceed into the street a few cars at a time. We unload and move out the cars so that the next group can get in. We are arrayed along one side of the road. Here is how it looked first thing in the morning. Foggy. And loads of very helpful high school volunteers to assist us in unloading and set up.

Crafters arrive later on and go through the same process, setting up on the other side of the street. Meanwhile, we artists are waiting for visits from the judges. The show officially opens at noon but people come early.

Here are some booth set-up images.

And as the day went on and the crafters came in, so did the sun.

Some shots of my set-up in final form:

The day was very hot, humid, and sunny. More like July than September. We had good crowds all day. These shots were taken just as the show opened. Soon the street was filled up.

I had wondered how my clay work would be received – this is the first time the figurines have been shown. The answer is, it went well. I had really good sales.

I also wondered if I had brought the right amount of work for my set-up. Once again, I was very happy with how it looked. Not too crowded, but with a good selection of price ranges and choices.

And, I was thrilled to win a prize – first place in my category, 3D. This is the first time I have ever won an award for my clay work. It was given for this tall figurine.

AD 9-16 #19

Friends stopped by to see us – shout out to John G, Missy, and Bill F, plus art friend/fellow show exhibitor Joan. I was also flattered that one of the judges came back and bought some tiles.

Here is a photo, courtesy of my friend John G, with me and two other award winners – by some strange luck, we were all booth neighbors. On the street, it was Mandy in the sunglasses was doing her first show; then me in the white shirt; and then Barbara in the blue shirt, a veteran like me. Three different mediums: painting, clay, printmaking.

AD Sellersville 9-16-18 #3 John Grob

In shows, you and your booth neighbors become friendly very quickly – it’s just how it works – and if you keep doing shows, you can build up friendships that last for decades. Another thing I like about doing shows!

All in all, a really good day. I was happy and grateful as we headed back home.

Monday, September 17 – Today I unpacked the clay, since I won’t be doing another show for a month.

AED 9-17 #106

I decided I definitely do need to do some clay work – I feel I have plenty for my next show, which is a small one, but I need something more for the November-December run of shows. So I rolled out some clay and cut some shapes. I have some ideas…

but some of them will have to wait until the clay stiffens up. I did make some people today.

I’m giving thought to my population. I sold a lot of puff people (the three-legged ones) this weekend. After some thought, I decided to make a modest number of them, since I have a couple of shows this fall that attract a craft, holiday shopper looking for lower prices. I don’t really like making puff people; I’ve created hundreds of them in the past (the kind that looked like this:)

Puff Creature #2 3-26-12 small

and I don’t want to make them any more. I am thinking I will choose clay shows more judiciously next year, leaning toward more a more art crowd (or I hope to), but for this year, well, I’ll do a few more puff people, yes, I will.

I am hoping to do a few more really tall large women figurines.

AD 9-17 #401

Like the one you see in the above photo, but even a little taller. That’s my goal, after I get this cylinder people group finished up. I do want a variety of sizes for that group, and you might notice I have given some of them modest-sized head wear. I might try some more of that kind of thing.

Tuesday, September 18 – I got to work on all that clay I had rolled out. I knew that I had maybe given myself a lot to do – and I was right. At times I overdo things with my enthusiasm.

Early in the day, I rolled these tall cylinders and set them up so that they could dry a little. They are too wet to stand up on their own right now and cannot be worked.

AD 9-18 #201

After lunch – I had decided to do some sgraffito tiles, so I started the process of coating them with black underglaze. Meanwhile the cylinders were ready to be handled.

AD 9-18 #303

After some time, here is what they became.

AD 9-18 #408

I then put the curvy-shaped pieces together (see the earlier photo above of clay rolled on the table), gave it a bottom, and ended up with a vessel.

I forgot to take pictures of this process, but it is the same as making a box – you slip and score the edges and put them together, with the additional challenges of fitting along the curves. Once the joins were made, I reinforced them with a coil of clay smeared along the interior (like caulking a joint). Then I put the bottom on it, following the same slip score procedure. And then I had a vessel. What to do with it next, I did not know. So I set it aside and did sgraffito tiles.

By now the clay vessel thing was drying up. I decided in the pressure of the moment to do sgraffito on it, too. By now I had lost hope of any inspiration, but I had gone to the trouble to put the vessel together, so…I slapped a couple of coats of black underglaze on it and got to work. I had to move faster than I wanted to because clay was drying fast – so I just carved. The flat sides got scenes and the curvy ones got a simple design.

All right, I think I salvaged this poor thing. I remembered why I like working with tiles so much – doing sgraffito is hard on an upright object. And it is never good to be in a hurry. Anyway, I’ll fire it and then I will glaze the interior, so that it could hold water and be a vase. Whew.

Wednesday, September 19 – I finished up the gesso work on those 18″ x 24″ boards. Now I have a whole group ready to go when I want to paint.

AD 9-19 #107

In the afternoon I got the idea to work on some tiles. I got out four commercially-made 4″ x 4″ terracotta tiles, painted a couple of coats of black underglaze on them, and got to work using the Chinese brush. I wanted to do a version of the sgraffito work, where the background envelops the figure rather than starting from the figure itself. I kind of did that, and kind of did not. I need more practice in thinking this way and planning better. Well, I think they turned out ok and I’ll be trying this again.

Here is a progress set of photos; though I didn’t get photos from the very beginning, you can see some of how things went:

Thursday, September 21 – I worked on tiles again today. This time I applied four different underglaze colors as the first coats. Then I used black to mark out the main figures. Then I did more colors on top.

I am feeling my way, but experimentation is what will teach me. Here are the results.

Friday, September 21 – It’s been a busy week. My body and my creativity needs a rest. I gathered my paintings to have them ready to be packed in the car for tomorrow’s show. And I made a price list. That was pretty much it!

P107031801

I think I’ll finish cleaning up from this week’s activities and then sit on the sofa and read.

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

Terra Cotta Sgraffito #2

Here’s a second set of sgraffito tiles from July 2018 – this time in terra cotta with the Velvet Jet Black underglaze.

I repeat my apology for the quality of these photos. I can’t seem to get good pictures of these tiles. They really do look better in person.

 

Terra Cotta Sgraffito #1

Here are some more sgraffito tiles – this time in terra cotta with the Velvet Jet Black underglaze.

Once again, I apologize for the photos’ quality. I can’t seem to get good pictures of these tiles. They really do look better in person.

Sgrafitto Tiles – Black and White – #2

I’m repeating my intro from the companion post…

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…

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…

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).

AD 6-30 #711

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

AD 6-29 #208

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!

AD 6-29 #107

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.

AD 7-2 #203

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.

AD 7-2 #104

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…

AD 7-2 #305

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.

AD 7-3 #101

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.

AD 7-4 #102

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.

AD 7-4 #809

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.

AD 6-23 #103

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

AD 6-23 #202

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.

AD 6-23 #301

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.

AD 6-25 #101

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!

AD 6-25 #303

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

AD 6-25 #202

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.

AD 6-25 #404

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.

AD 6-28 #201

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…

AD 6-28 #105

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.

AD 6-28 #301

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.

AD 6-29 #103

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.

AD 6-29 #301

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).

AD 6-29 #202

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.