Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sgraffito Vase in Progress

We had a wonderful day at ceramics class yesterday.  I played with extruding clay, for the first time.  It was like magic, how the shapes came out of the extruder, almost without effort.  I didn't even need to knead (hmmm, what's the ceramics word for that?) the clay first, we just dropped our bags of fresh clay on the ground a number of times to soften them up.  Unfortunately, I was having so much fun, I forgot to stop for photos.  I pretty much finished 3 pieces which are rectangular dishes, they look like small planters.  One has undulating sides.  I also finished 3 vases, which were formed from a hexagonal extrusion, twisted a bit as it came out.  Then I made 2 shapes from a square extrusion, but pulled into an almost ring-like shape as they came out.  One will be purely decorative, and I think I'll finish it for display in the garden.  The other has some potential as a funky sort of vase.  We'll see.  I'll be finishing them, and working on more extruding in next week's class.

I realized that I wouldn't have time to work on the sgraffito vase which was in the cellar from the previous class.  So I smuggled it home, to have more time to work on it.  Last night I looked at lots of photos, trying to decide what white on black design I was going to create.  I looked at lilies, but I like the colorful oriental lilies, not so much the serene white easter lilies.  At least, not for a sgraffito design.  I also looked at other flowers, dragons, winter scenes, and leaves.  It wasn't until I went to bed that the idea of white dogwood flowers came to me.  So that is what I sgraffito'd tonight.  Here it is with just the black (yes, that will be black) slip:
Then the dogwood flowers are outlined :
Then the petals (actually, sepals - the little bumps in the center are the actual flowers) filled in :
The clay was very soft, so it was very easy to sgraffito.  I had to concentrate on not digging in too deep.  I tried to leave the design a bit rough and unrefined.  I really like the effect.  I think it will look very good when the black slip is actually black.  I've stamped it on the side, near the base.  I've started stamping my pieces on the side.  In many cases it has been easier than stamping the base.  Especially on the earlier pieces which had trimmed bottoms.  I wonder whether I should have made a more distinct foot on this one, but I don't know if I'll mess with it now.  It is otherwise done, and just needs to dry and be sent to the kiln to be bisqued.  I will likely finish it with a clear glaze, sprayed on thinly.

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