Sunday, March 17, 2013

Texturing Ceramic Clay

by Marsha Neal Studio
This month's boot camp is going to be focusing on texturing metal by hand.
Found objects are to be used with the intention of making marks on the metal surface for creating texture, which will add character to the finished piece.

I love to get out a hammer when I need to get out some frustration and hopefully create something cool without being over-zealous and destroying the piece. 
But other than wire, I don't work with metal too much these days (although I did try copper enameling last year, and loved it!)...

For a more relaxing outlet, I enjoy spending time doodling with a roller ball ink pen on smooth paper and coming up with some designs that I will use to carve into a leather-hard ceramic clay.
Sometimes if my mind, my hand, and the clay are all in sync, I can sit and free form draw/carve into the clay without having previously drawn out a design. 

Once those carved ceramic clay slabs or stamps have gotten to the finished stage, they are fired in a kiln to the bisque stage (hard and porous clay).

I can then either roll fresh porcelain onto those hard porous clay plates and get a reverse printed image or I can texture the slab with my handmade bisque stamps. 

It is those fresh textured porcelain slabs that I use to create my finished work.
After cutting out the shapes I want and cleaning up any sharp edges, they are then glazed fired to over 2232 degrees F (Cone 5).

I wrote up a blog post a while back showing my "cutout flower" process HERE.

The textures that I use in my clay work gives my body of work a fingerprint because I carve out my own texture plates from leather-hard ceramic clay. Leather-hard clay is the state of the clay before it becomes very dry. It is hard enough carve into it and get the clay to peel out easily. 
But at this stage, it is a bit too hard to press something into it.

When you are working with soft clay, just about anyone can press found objects from nature into clay or carve out textures or patterns, maybe use antique buttons, keys, or miscellaneous found objects. 
There are those that are able to carve out relief images in clay and make their own molds to produce their work. 

Being a creative individual artist is all about finding your voice and making work your own. 
Definitely not about seeing something you like that was made by another person, and setting out with the intentions of recreating it then calling it your own.

Techniques may be similar for making stamps, texturing, cutting, adding holes, finishing your work, etc. And some things such as shapes, themes, color palettes, and such are universal. 

You find something that speaks to you from within you, and you make your work from there.

Where does your inspiration for creating texture come from?


Artisan Beads Plus said...

Lately, my inspiration has come from reading your posts. Since I got into enameling all the time, I go away from clay. I have rediscovered it and have a new "mature" love! lol! My latest motivation has been going back and forth. I tend to lose my creative touch if I stay with one medium too long. Having both and then using their natural love for each other in jewelry keeps it fresh!

Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio said...

Thanks MaryAnn! It's crazy how life and interests take us on different paths at times in our lives. And how stepping away from a particular way of working for a time allows us to come back with a renewed interest and passion for it.

I'm delighted to be able to give some insight into my process and hope it does create sparks for people to find that inner voice that speaks to them.


Kelli said...

Love the idea of making my own texture plates. Thank you, too, for telling me to use leather hard clay. Makes sense, but in the moment, I would have used soft to find time!!!!!

Kelli said...

Love the idea of making my own texture plates. Thank you, too, for telling me to use leather hard clay. Makes sense, but in the moment, I would have used soft to find time!!!!!

Gaia Copia said...

Thank you for this post!

Creating my own designs is something I have struggled with in my work. I often use textures that I purchase from Cool Tools, etc. I tend to want to just get to using my strong suits which are detailing the texture with embellishments and color and then putting the design together in a balanced way.

I recently bought some Speedball carveable art mats after being inspired by Staci Louise's work. I haven't done anything with them but your post is urging me along. I'll be on the lookout for inspiration. I guess I need to just commit myself to sitting down and trying it instead of researching it!

Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio said...

Gaia - Something will click for you. I'm the type that has to research a lot before trying something out. It's great fun to just try stuff sometimes (often accompanied with a friend that has maybe had some experience, and you go in with only intentions of trying something new and experimenting).

Actually, whenever I can take a class, that is exactly how I approach it - not looking for creating a final product, but to rather learn techniques, then apply it to my own work.

Keep us posted on your progress!!!

Lisa Hughes said...

Marsha- when you fire your texture plates do you fire them with something laying on top of them to keep them flat? Just this past week, I fired some of my texture plates, and I had all of them warp except the one that was on the bottom of another one. I'm also wondering if I didn't have them thick enough- I believe my thickness was around 1/4 inch, or perhaps less in some areas where I stamped too deeply!

Thanks so much for this post!

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