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.

Buh-bye, Succulents

succulents

After struggling all winter and spring to keep my succulents alive (note: not thriving but surviving), I finally gave up and placed an ad on a neighborhood bloody thing offering them for $5 to $10 each.  Several neighbors took me up on the offer but there were still about 40 – 50 succulents left.

Next, I called a local charity group to see if they would take a donation of live plants, hoping to keep them alive until they were picked-up.  Yes!!  They would!!

About a week after my call, their truck showed up; the plants went into the truck and were taken away.  In fact, the truck driver was fascinated with the plants and several may end up with him.  Hope the rest have found good homes where they can be loved, appreciated and grow.

What Else?

This piece was built specifically for an exhibition at the Dallas Public Library.  It’s an open exhibition which means: just show up with your piece (I think).  The theme is “Reading to My Friends.”

Okay … so, the piece is built and red iron oxide was added when it was bone dry.  Then fired to cone 05.  Question is:  What else?  Do I add some underglaze and/or glaze and fire again?  Or do I just add clear shoe polish and buff it?

Decided to add some underglaze and dark highlighter.  Now, it’s back in the kiln, going to cone 5.   Also in the kiln is a test piece with low-fire clear underglaze and some crystals.  Thinking about adding those and firing again once this firing is finished.

So Excited!!

About the middle of June, I entered a juried competition to (hopefully) be included in the Creative Arts Center of Dallas member’s exhibition.   July 13th arrived.  The selection emails were sent and …

I received two emails.  The first said, “Thanks for entering.  You weren’t selected.”  The second said, “Congratulations!  Your piece was selected for the exhibition.”  I was confused because I only entered one piece.  How could it be rejected and accepted??

Then it dawned on me:  I submitted three photos of the piece.  And, although the piece was accepted, they had to accept one photo and reject the other two.  WHEW!!

Today, I delivered the piece, Mystic Dreams, to the gallery and am planning to attend the opening reception next week.

Glaze & Texture Experiments

One reason that I was able to clean & organize the studio is that all the current work was in the kiln being fired.  And this is the result of the firing.

Overall, I’m pretty happy (i.e., thrilled) with the texture and the glaze layering.  One idea lead to another and voila ….

0709_kiln

 

Yes … It Can Be Done

studio

Much of the time, my studio reflects a “work in progress” and isn’t the cleanest or neatest place.  I tend to spread out and use all the space available.  And, after a month or so of creating flower pots and finishing up the sculpture, the studio was a wreck!

I spent several days cleaning and organizing.  I didn’t really have a place for my most-used tools; they were usually scattered all over the work space.  Luckily, I found these cute little wire-mesh containers at Target … for $1 each.  Such a deal!!!  Such inspiration!!!

Now, with a semi-clean (is a pottery studio every completely clean?) and organized space, I’m ready to create more.

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.

 

Sculpture #1 of ???

In April, I went to Tucson, AZ, to take a figure sculpting workshop with Mary Susan Cate.   It was a fabulous 4 days in her studio along with 5 other students.  I learned a unique way to build armatures using straws, pool noodles and newspaper.  Mary described her processes for drying, glazing and firing our figures.

Naturally, 4 days weren’t nearly enough to build my figure, glaze and fire it.  Again, Mary to the rescue!!  She explained how to wrap and pack the figure so it could travel.  And, I checked it through as baggage on the plane.

Now … several months later, the figure was finally refined, glazed and fired.  I’m totally amazed that she looks this good and didn’t break in the firing.  There is still a lot of touch up work and extra firings in store for her.  But, so far …. so good!

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.