Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I don't like trimming. Maybe it's because my tools are dull, or that nothing seems to be centered, or that I'm never quite sure when I've trimmed to an even thickness. When I write this all down it just sounds like I need to get more practice and sharpen my damn tools.
Another classmate stopped by as I was trimming, and she said her and two other classmates had joked about starting a production line - one would throw, one would trim, and one would glaze - because each of them didn't mind doing one of those things. So I wondered - why do we do this if there are so many steps we don't enjoy? I don't like wedging, glazing, or loading the kiln either. On my good days I enjoy throwing, and opening the kiln is usually exciting (if not disappointing, but thankfully it's more often exciting).
So why do I do it? Because I'm (relatively) good at it. I suppose I like the idea of hand-made dishes, but I'm not sure why. I wouldn't sell a plate for less than $10, yet I could buy a nice set of 4 plates for a total of $10 on sale at Pier 1. Though out of all the things I have done, this is what I keep doing, and the only thing I'd rather be doing is dancing. So I guess this works. It suits me well enough - I'm introverted, creative, and I like to be challenged (even though I may complain in the process, the feeling of overcoming a challenge is awesome). My mom has been waiting for me to make plates so she can stop using her Christmas ones year-round, and a friend has commissioned me to make him a dinner set. Hooray for plates.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Lesson in Sgrafitto

: scratching through a layer of colored slip to the differently colored clay underneath
Mishima: cuts/scratches that are filled with colored slip

Between my unemployment depression, aching back, and overabundance of neglected recycled clay, I gave the elegant set a rest and made some whimsical mugs in the last week. I thought I'd try some sgrafitto, going for a fun, graphic look. Of course I hadn't touched sgrafitto since I'd learned about it two years ago; I knew I wasn't sure what I was doing, though I found out later how clueless I was when a classmate corrected me. It was actually Mishima I was trying to do, and not even correctly. Here's the step by step:

Exhibit A: Mug - lip rim dipped in porcelain slip, complete with handle, evenly dried to leather-hard

1. I scratched a design both on the solid stoneware and up to the porcelain rim.
2. Filled in design with ebony slip, not bothering to stay in the lines.
3. When slip dried, I scraped away the excess outside of the lines. This caused two problems:
a. made scratch marks on the groggy stoneware
b. scraped away some of the porcelain slip

1. First wax the area.
2. Scratch/carve the design through the wax.
3. Apply colored slip.

After bisque firing, the excess slip should flake off or be easily sanded to reveal the crisp mishima lines.
After the first unsuccessful mug, I gave up with any sort of carving and simply painted my little bicycles. By the time my classmate stopped by I had just a few mugs left, and I was enjoying my simple paintings... Perhaps another day I'll give mishima a second try.
Ceramics Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory