Fun with Decals

Lately, I’ve been looking at different ways to add a “something extra” to some of my pieces … so, I’ve been playing with decals and learned that there is definitely a learning curve in working with them.  There are several types of decals:  those you apply before the bisque fire and those you apply after a piece is glazed and fired.

UnderglazeDecal

The piece to the left has a decal that was applied before the pot was bisque fired.  It’s an underglaze design that’s been printed on a thin piece of rice paper.  Directions say to wet the decal and apply it to the piece.  I found it easier to brush water on the piece and then lay the decal over it and smooth with a dry brush.  It’s easy to smear the decal; so, it’s best to handle it as little as possible and leave it alone to dry.  This piece was glazed with a zinc-free clear and fired to cone 5.

Decals applied after a piece is glazed present other challenges.  The decals have to be soaked until they come loose from their backing paper before applying to the glazed piece.  The decal is fragile and can wrinkle or tear.  And after the decal is applied, it has to be gently brushed to remove all air bubbles; then, left alone for 24 hours.  Finally, the piece with the decal is fired to cone 017.

I didn’t realize how much he glaze color can affect the decal.  The moon & stars decals (below left) were put onto pieces with a dark blue glaze.  Mistake!  The moon & stars look green because the decal was yellow; blue & yellow = green.

Mistake 2: the middle picture shows decals that get lost with all the fru-fru around the edge.

The cats & dogs turned out pretty well.  Hooray!!  One out of three isn’t bad.

Stick a Fork in It …

… and call it done.  Pictures after final firing of Sculpture 1.

The first firing was just too dark and “toasty” looking for what I had in mind.  The second firing, with additional glazes, was even worse.  So bad, in fact, that I didn’t even take pictures of it.

Instead, I ran to my computer and looked for some glazes that might work.  And for the most part, they did.  Colors are much better, brighter and more even.

I’ve loved every step of the learning process and will definitely be trying more sculptures.

 

Ouch!

Totem

Last week, I decided to move one of the ceramic totem poles into a bare spot at the front of the house.  So, I carefully took it apart; carried the individual pieces to the front and finally carried the pole to the front and reassembled it.

About 10 minutes later, S.O. and I went to look at it.  OUCH!!  The totem pole had tumbled over and at least half the pieces were broken.  Nothing to do but toss those into the trash and start over.

Next day, I pulled the pole & concrete base out of the plastic pot and “planted” the concrete in the ground.  Then it was time to reassemble the totem.  Fortunately, there were enough pieces of “totems in progress” to rebuild.  It’s not quite the same but I still kinda like it.

Wildflower Garden or Just Wild?

Wildflowers1

In my mind’s eye, a wildflower garden has always had a certain charm.  So, a couple years ago, I bought about 1/2 pound of wildflower seeds (1/4 pound for sun gardens and 1/4 pound for shade gardens).  Last year, the plants were meager; they struggled because of all the rain and then the heat of summer shriveled them.  Fortunately, we didn’t have a harsh winter and most of them survived.

I threw out more seeds in February and they prospered.  Boy … did they prosper!!  Now I have this wild wildflower garden.  Time to thin them out and/or redo this whole plot because we can’t even walk through it.

Playing with Clay

Tile with hexagons Part of the fun of working with clay is experimenting with various textures and procedures.

This tile is a semi-successful experiment.  I had some cardboard with a waffle texture and wondered what would happen if I added it to a flat tile.  Naturally, the cardboard would burn out in the bisque firing but, if the waffle pattern was coated with with slip before firing it, what would happen??

Well, the waffle pattern was saved but it’s very delicate in the bisque state.  So, I quickly added some glaze on top of the waffle pieces and then sprayed glaze on the tile.  In fact, the glaze helped the waffle pieces adhere to the tile.  This is what it looks like after being fired to cone 5.

 

Another One Bites The Dust

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 8.26.42 AMWell, darn!  I’m discovering the cacti and succulents aren’t all that easy to grow.

They’re not at all like other house plants that thrive on a little bit of coddling and a little bit of neglect.   Indoor plants (pathos, prayer plants) and outdoor plants (ajuga, monkey grass) have always rewarded me by growing and spreading.  Eventually I’d invite friends to come and take some away.

But cacti and succulents …. NOOOOOOOOOOO!!  If I water them when they don’t want to be watered even if the soil feels bone dry, they die.  If I neglect them, they shrivel up and die.

Au revoir, Agave.  I loved you well but not wisely.