the glory of springtime

It was the spring flowers that finally got me to add some color to my work, even though I've had a whole box of underglaze colors for months. There is something so joyful, and so fleeting, in the earliest spring blossoms that I knew I wanted to capture something of that. What better way than sketching directly on clay? 


The pencil marks burn out in the firing, and it's always a bit of a surprise to see how the underglazes turn out.  


And just so you know, all the pear blossoms were collected from this broken branch.


painting crows on clay

I love the shapes crows make as they fly, but finding a way to recreate their inky silhouettes on clay has been a challenge. I think I'm finally coming up with a strategy that's fairly straightforward. 


It starts with a set of custom rubber stamps that I ordered from Atlas Stamps (so much easier than the handmade option). After the pot is trimmed and dried, but before it's been bisque fired, I gently stamp the images onto the clay, curving the rubber stamp to match the shape of the fragile greenware.  


Pretty much any kind of stamp pad with do. These two were given to me and my sisters sometime in elementary school, and somehow (amazingly) still have enough ink and moisture to be usable. I start with a light color, which gives me the option of redoing the stamp if I don't like the placement. The organic dyes in the stamp pad will all burn out in the firing, so I don't worry about any extra marks I've made on the clay.


I then use a very fine brush to paint black underglaze over the stamped outlines, using the original set of photos as a reference. 

photo 4.JPG

Once the underglaze is on, they're ready to be bisque fired. It also works to do this stamping and painting on bisqued ware, but the raw underglaze sometimes resists the glaze, leaving an uneven surface on the finished piece.