It’s been a crazy year, hasn’t it. With all that is going on, I have found it hard to stay artistically motivated and I know I am not alone in that feeling. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating! I have just been a tad slower. One thing I did was bring home the mugs and bowls that are waiting patiently for some sgraffito carving.
I have a small “girl cave” that is very comfortable. Having those pieces there allowed me to spend more time at home. Although my studio is a private studio and social distancing is easy (it’s just me), I still felt the need to stay closer to home. My studio is only a 6-minute drive away but still….
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The good part of all this is that I haven’t felt rushed to carve out the pieces and I have gotten more in-depth with the artwork. Since my Hummingbird and Flower mugs seem to be a favorite, I have concentrated on sgraffito carving more of them. The mugs in the graphic are freshly carved and waiting patiently to be bisque fired, which is the first firing. Each piece gets fired twice. They take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours from sketching on the design to finished carving so I don’t get too many done! There is something soothing about scratching in the clay, My carves are not deep but they do texture the clay giving the art an almost wood cut appearance. Its crazy too, because you are really working just the opposite of how we are used to drawing. We are comfortable placing down black lines on white. Its a totally different feeling to remove black to bring out the white. You have to really stop and think about what you need to remove.
The color of the mugs look grey but that’s just the color of the dry underglaze, which is black. Once its fired and clear glazed, the mugs will be a rich black and the carved areas will be ivory white.
I thought it would be fun to video me Sgraffito carving a mug for you to watch. I sped it up big time so it’s not an hour-long (it’s just under 10 minutes). When the video starts I had already sketched the design in using a white Prismacolor watercolor pencil. The first thing I do is “sketch” the design through the black underglaze using my very favorite tool. The L1 Diamond Stylus from DiamondCore. When I first got this tool I wasn’t sure I would like it but I ADORE IT and use it more than any other tool.
During my experimenting with Sgraffito I tried carving out the hummingbird and flowers and leaving the background black.
I tried adding color.
All of these looked great but I really really like them in just black and white and with the background carved out.
Here is some of my more recent work. What is your preference?
I bought this so that I could record video while I am making stuff. It works great. The arm attaches to the table with a thumb screw. The part that holds your phone is spring loaded and almost too strong of a spring. I pinch my fingers a lot but I know the phone won’t fall out into my clay water!!
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Wire Stylus Kemper Tool for Sgraffito
This tool is also a staple in my sgraffito toolbox. It carves beautifully. It breaks easy so its a good thing its cheap (Should I say “affordable”)
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Amaco Velvet Underglaze Set
I primarily use the Amaco Velvet Underglazes although I have been experimenting with Speedball as well. So far I really do prefer the Amaco! It just seems to flow better.
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