Saturday, 29 June 2013

Toys for the tot

My sharehouse has had a recent addition. The couple upstairs have given birth to a little girl named Layla. It seemed like a lot of work (and no doubt will be, going forward) but she's quite a cute baby at the moment. Sometimes it's nice to live vicariously through others and not have to do these things myself.

As I've had a couple of friends spawn in the last year I thought I'd try my hand at making toys. I started by making a giraffe for Olfus' boy but I found the mane a little time consuming. I was tempted to make an elephant for Layla but got a little frustrated. Luckily, one of my friends had Pinned a number of interesting toy ideas. I ended up making a couple of Stegosaurus - who doesn't like a good dinosaur? It's called a 'taggie' which I assume refers to the loops of ribbon used as the defensive plates. The pattern is one sided so doesn't standup but would make a good chewtoy I suspect. Someone with more time than I could probably work out a 3d four legged pattern.
As I had excess fabric, I made four. One for Layla, one for Bennie, one for the next infant I happen upon and one for the first person to register interest.

Two days before Layla was born I decided to try something a little more difficult. My awesome sister works with felt alot. She makes things like screaming avocados and other quirky items. So I thought I'd make something with felt that Layla's SCAdian parents would find appropriate.

 A dragon for Layla the Dragon Slayer!  Pattern from here with many thanks. I also found this  pattern for a rampant dragon but I don't think he is as cute.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Plate 11 - Hare and Artichoke Bowl

Figure 1: The Hare and Artichoke Bowl, completed May 2013.

I am feeling super proud of this bowl. The colours are wonderfully balanced and the shading on the hare turned out better than anticipated. I really enjoyed painting this bowl due entirely to it's shape. I admit, the internal rim was a little challenging, but the bowl was handsized allowing me to hold and spin it as I painted. This also freed me up to paint this on the couch in front of the heater. A prefered position during winter! Typically I paint in the kitchen as the lighting is best, but my toes tend to freeze and go numb. Also, now that Dash is home most days, I can't paint when he's walking around as he tends to galoomph and move the floorboards which jiggle the table. So, yay for heater and loungeroom!

I laid down yellow leaves under the green and brown to ensure that I got the fine vein details right as I knew painting them would be thicker and possibly wouldn't show up. Pre-firing (figure 2) you can't tell the bottom layers are there but they've come out during firing. Not too big an issue and actually really effective. This under-underglaze has added a beautiful colour range to the thistle.

Figure 2: The hare bowl pre-firing. The pastel colours really grew on me and I was a little reluctant to fire this piece.

"The basin is covered with a tin-opacified glaze which gives a bright white covering on which the design is painted. This type of decorative glazing is known as 'maiolica' in Italy. The image on the basin is a hare standing in front of what apears to be an artichoke. Artichokes may have been cultivated in Italy as early as the 9th century."

The white and brown leaves on my replica don't pop as well as those on the original. I think this is due to the fact the green increases intensity towards the leaves on the original. On mine, as such shading is a challenge, I made the green solid. They stand out more than I wanted as a result.

Under-glaze pencil
The big experiment for this bowl was on the back (figure 4). Glazeit use a black underglaze pencil to number their items so they know who they belong to. They've stopped doing it to my plates as I'm such a frequent customer and have such unique items. The back of the original had an angel clutching a stem (on an artichoke?) in purple manganese on the back. It's quite hard to make out but the lines are very fine. I wanted to replicate this without glaze blotchyness strong lines so I borrowed Sigal's underglaze pen and went over the sketch I'd made on the back. Alas, the pen and greylead look the same before firing so I forgot to complete the stem.
As the original is so hard to make out, I couldn't decide if the angel has his back to the audience, clutching the stem and laying the side of his head against it OR if he is side on and laying his forehead against it. I opted for the back view. The result is not as spectactular as the front but true to the original.
I like the idea of sketchin though I'm not so good at it. I might do some research and then talk to Sigal and invest in some under-glaze pencils. They're probably expensive but it'll be nice to experiment further.

Figure 4a) The back of the original dish with hanging loops so dish can be displayed and an angel in manganese. Figure 4b) Underglaze pencil interpretation of the angel/cherub.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Plate 10 - Vandels plate fired!

Figure 1: The center of Vandal's plate with his device, Quarterly sable and purpure, a mascle and a bordure argent. So simple, so effective, so hard to ensure it's symmetrical.

This plate has only been at Glazeit for three weeks waiting for me to collect it but I present plate no. 10, Vandal's household plate in all it's baked glory.

Figure 2: The complete, fired plate - finally!

You can see the limbs of the rising sun are not evenly coloured, again. I had thought this problem with my household plate was due to the fact it was my first. I was extra diligent with ensuring this plate had the requisite three even coats but it appears that I didn't succeed. I don't want to put more than three layers on as I suspect that underglaze that is too thick might flake off. I think I'll avoid large single colour areas for now until I have a solution.

Squeezie bottles
Even though I was working with a known design I got the chance to try something new for this plate. Sigel (sp?) of Glazeit introduced me to squeezie bottles of glaze. Like silk paints they have a thin nozzle and allow you to make thin-ish lines and dots. I used them for all the blue background fill sections (Fig 3). You can see the spirals aren't as smooth as they were on my plate as I can only do a single run and my hand isn't that steady in movement and strength of squeeze. I also used the squeeze bottles to do the squids (for want of a better term). The smoothness of the pigment isn't that good when you look at the head of the squid. This method clearly only works for lines and dots.
It is ALOT less time consuming than outlining each spiral three times. Oh, how I wish I knew of thise technique when I did Gab's and Stanzi's plates.Though, I'm happy with the neatness on them, and probably wouldn't have been as happy with the squeeze bottle results. I probably wouldn't have the wrist strength back then either to complete a whole plate.

Figure 3: Close up (slightly blurry, sorry) of the blue background fill.

For the first in this set (and my first ceramic experiment) go here.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

1/5 of A&S 50

As I've just hit 1/5th of my A&S 50 goal I thought I'd make a few summary tables because I'm a scientist and I like tables. It's also helped solidify my ideas of what I've looked at and where I want to investigate in the future. Spoilers for plates currently in the works!

Plate ID Experimental component
0.1 Undocumenting the Spanish Tazza Investigation into the Spanish colour choices and symbolism
1 Antoinettes Plate 1st ever plate - adapting motif's for household use
2 Gabriel De Beaumont Plate Conversion of style and symbols for HRM
3 Constanzia Moralez's Plate Conversion of style and symbols for HRM
4 Relief Plate Creation of relief post-bisque
5 Ibis Plate Single layer of colour (watercolour effect)
6 Drollery 1 Light on dark shading
7 Drollery 2 Dark on light shading
8 Peacock Plate Rainbow lustre and copper based pigment
9 Dove Plate White line solution investigation
9.1 Iranianplates Lobed edges and saltanabad-ware
10 Vandals Plate Squeezie bottle for lines and dots
11 Hare Bowl Line work shading and bowl shape
12 Mirriams Plate Medieval font

Even though I'm in an Iranian designs zone at the moment, I also want to expand my array of cultures and times.

Plate Style Culture Age
0.1 - Spanish -
1 Lusterware Spanish 15th C
2 Tin Glazed earthenware Spanish, Seville or Valencia 1525-1550
3 Tin Glazed earthenware Spanish, Seville or Valencia 1550-1600
4 Lusterware Spanish, Reus 1575-1600
5 Luserware Spanish, Manises 1525-1575
6 Illumination
7 Illumination
8 Stonepaste with under-glaze decoration Syrian 12th C
9 Earthenware Iran 14th C
9.1 - Iranian
10 Lusterware Spanish 15th C
11 Tin Glazed earthenware Italy, Florence 1450
12 Tin Glazed earthenware with luster Spanish, Manises 1400-1450

So, that's 1/5th done in 1.5 years and I have two years to go. Wish my luck. Also, I'm open to requests, who knows, you might inspire me to try something completely different!