Sunday, March 23, 2008

Applied Decoration

We just got back from a short vacation to the desert. What a wonderful place to go in the Spring. The flowers were blooming, the days were warm, the nights were cool, the air was clear, and the skies beautiful. You can read more about my trip at Springville Lavender Gardens blog.

Lately I have been experimenting with applied decoration. Several months ago I made a large vase with large thick hollyhock leaves which I applied to the surface of the vase. All of the leaves popped off during the bisque firing. I was so disappointed. I have come up with a new technique, whereby I am applying thinner pieces of clay as decoration to see how they make it through the bisque firing.

Here are two of my latest group of pieces with applied decoration in their leatherhard state. This first is a fairy plate. The second is a large hollyhock platter. I can't wait to see how these and my other prototypes do in this firing. I will be able to check on them on Monday at the college. I can hardly wait to see if they turned out. I also have four vases and another plate with applied decoration in this bisque firing. It's kind of hard to see the applied decoration without looking closely since the clay is all one color at this stage and doesn't have much contrast. I will work on taking better photos of the greenware pieces.

In a Clay Times article this month Victoria Coulter reported on a hands-on workshop given by Ian Gregory, Sculpture and Paperclay. In the article there was a recipe for Ian Gregory's Paperclay Super Glue. I am going to try using this paperclay superglue on a two pieces, each have a small part that has broken loose. I repaired both pieces with clay slip, but the broke again as I was loaded them in the kiln for a bisque firing. One of my casseroles was found mysteriously broken in the classroom when no one was there? Anyway, one of my classmates fixed my casserole dish with his own version of paperclay slip. I told him if he fixed it he could have the casserole dish. This is another piece in this bisque firing to be opened on Monday.

I have high hopes in this firing - so hopefully luck is with me this time.


  1. How disappointing to have your sprigs pop off in the bisque fire! I might have to pick up a copy of Clay Times for the recipe...I only get Ceramic's Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated.

  2. Hi Cynthia, Since I've already given credit in my post to the artist and the person who wrote the article and since the recipe was published, I don't think it would hurt for me to give you the recipe. It is 1 to 2 cups of paperclay slip and 1/2 teaspoon of sodium silicate. The casserole my classmate tried to repair came apart after he took it out of the bisque. So we'll be trying this recipe with some other stuff to see how it works.

    By the way, almost all of my pieces came out of the kiln perfect, except one vase had a leaf pop off (not enough slip). My plates shown in this post with large applied decoration and others I made all came out - yippee! During the firing I placed them on several small rolls of paper clay so when they cooled off there wouldn't be such a large surface resting on the hot kiln shelf (classmate's excellent suggestion). My very large square vase with applied fern leaves has a small stress crack in the bottom - I did not put it on rolled pieces of clay to allow it to cool more evenly - I will be doing this from now for pieces with large surfaces resting on the kiln shelf. I am hoping I can save the vase with glaze - I really love it, but if not I will make another like it.


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