At our July Foothills meeting, Marla taught us how to make pinch pots and ceramic buttons. We all made a nice variety of things and sent them how with her so she could fire them in her kiln. Today, we got to glaze our creations.....the final step in the process. I'd never done any ceramic work before, so I was VERY excited about this opportunity!
Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures in July, but the basic process was to roll out our clay like you're rolling out dough for baking a pie....only a bit thicker. Marla had special rolling pins and guide strips so we would get the appropriate thickness. I also learned that you have to roll the clay in multiple directions so it will roll out evenly.
We used cookie cutters and various other items to create impressions on the wet clay and to cut out shapes. We then used coffee stirrers to cut holes in our shapes to create buttons. We had to be careful when picking up the shapes though....they needed to stay flat. I learned that clay has memory...and if you bend it, it will "remember" that and curve when fired. I kept most of mine flat, but then I purposely curved some of them to create curved buttons.
Marla's clay studio was amazing! Her tools were laid out nicely with LOTS of workspace! What a fabulous studio! Here's the view of the left and right sides of her workspace - nice and contiguous!
The kiln was fascinating as well. It's deep, so you can insert a number of shelves of ceramic figures, buttons, or other creations. I believe that Marla has hers setup with 3 shelves.
Today's kilns are all electronic, so keeping the temperature even and shutting them off at the appropriate time is much easier than it used to be.
On to my buttons....
All of my "raw" buttons were successfully fired...as well as my pinch pot. Nothing broke in the process. That's always a risk....if there's a weak spot or the clay wasn't properly prepared. The pot is made with a slightly different clay than the buttons and had to be fired at a higher temperature. I though a little bowl would be the perfect catch all for my stitch markers.
On to the glazing...
The glazing is done in layers....basically 3 layers on each of the buttons. I chose my colors and painted them on each piece. The fronts got the full 3 layers of glaze and the back only gets a single coat. You have to wait until each layer of pain is dry before applying the next coat, or the glaze won't adhere properly and will rub off. It took me about 6 hrs. to get them all done. Marla was a fabulous teacher and I learned so much!
The bowl wasn't painted with glaze. Instead, it's dipped in the glaze....let dry, and then dipped again in anther color at the tip. What amazed me was that the dipped bowl didn't change color much at all. I did a dark teal on the body of the bowl and a raspberry color at the top. There's a chemical reaction that will occur when the glaze is heated that changes this rather blah looking color into the deep vibrant color I chose. Yes...the bowl below HAS been dipped. Rather "blah" looking, eh?
For my buttons, I made most of them by painting the entire button with one or more colors....in 3 layers. I did a second technique on 4 of the buttons and the rose emblem. I painted different colors in the depressed designs (again, 3 layers) and then I topped them off with a coat of clear glaze. (The clear glaze has a tint, so it covered the colors making all my buttons look "whitewashed".)
In fact, most of the buttons look rather dull and non-vibrant at the moment. The flat pale colors will change dramatically one they're fired.
We also had the option of creating ceramic angels. They are just beautiful! Marla had two angels on her buffet as samples - they're just gorgeous!
Sue managed to find time to craft one - I left before she'd finished with the hair and halo. I had so many buttons to paint that there's no way I could manage to work in an angel!
I can't wait till next week to see how all our projects turn out!!!!