Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sgraffito Pinch Bowl Part Two

There are plenty of pink flamingos in Florida, but I've never seen a pink elephant till now. The elephant is a fiberglass sculpture about 10 feet high and graces the front of an auto repair business in Inverness, Florida. There was a label on the trailer saying something about it being the brother's folly. This folly made me jolly! How about you?

In the previous post I showed how I made the pinched bowl. In this post I'll show how I make and apply the slip or terra sigilatta to the bowl. For the slip I take bits of some contrasting clay and drop small pieces in a bowl and let it dry out completely. Later I add water to rehydrate the clay into a think slip. As the clay is re hydrating I love to put the container up to my ear to listen to the water reabsorbing into the clay. It makes a wonderful fizzing sound as the water is reabsorbed into the clay.

Once the clay has re hydrated I stir the clay into a smooth mixture and add more water if necessary to make it as thin as cream. For terra sig I cover the container with a tight fitting lid and set it aside to settle out for 24 hours and syphon out the excess water. This time I left the mixture too long and the water evaporated, so I used the top layer of clay that was left to make my clay slip.

If you're wondering how much clay or water I use, I am sorry to report, I don't make measurements. I make my slip, terra sigilatta, and ceramics pieces by the seat of my pants. I look at the ingredients and adjust them as I go along, much like I cook meals, adding a little of this or that to make it just right. Above is the bone dry pinched bowl ready to accept the slip.

See the rusty chip brush sitting on the wood ware board. That brush is my very favorite brush. The brush is 100% pure bristle, made in Indonesia. If you find pure natural bristle, I don't think you can go wrong with them. I happened to pick this one up at a big box store and I treasure it. Above I've started to apply the slip with the natural bristle chip brush. I apply the slip in a circular motion.

For the photo above I have the bowl almost complete covered in slip. I let the slip dry and then I apply two more coats. I let each coat of slip dry between applications. This post taking longer than I expected, so I'll continue on how to scribe the sgraffito into the bowl in the next post. Oh, be sure to come back because I have a unique Florida critter to show you.


  1. What could be more jolly than a pink elephant? I'm sure there is an interesting story behind that elephant.
    Looking forward to see what you will sgraffito into your bowl.


  2. I am enjoying your pinch bowl tutorial. Pinching is a form I was not familiar with.
    Inverness is one of my favorite Florida towns. Just love the atmosphere there and what is not to love about a Pink Elephant.

  3. i think i like a pink elephant better than a pink flamingo... love the demo.

  4. Love the elephant...aren't pink elephants what someone who's had WAY too much to drink might see?
    Thanks for the tutorial also, it's good to see someone mixing clay ingredience like cooking inexpedience. I try to be so exact in my clay but not so much in cooking.

  5. Great pink elephant. Enjoying your tutorial, even though I may be the only one here who's not a potter. I would probably order up a cup of terra sigilatta to drink. LOL.

  6. Hi Barbara, thanks, yes pink elephants are truly jolly, te he, got the next post almost completed for tomorrow.

    Hi Patti, thanks, we are really enjoying the Inverness and surrounding areas.

    Hi Jim, thanks, the flamingos are over done I think, but not many would probably have an elephant this size in their yard and surely not on their roof.

    Hi Lori, thanks, maybe that's where the pink elephant comes from the vision through blurry eyes.

    Hi Barbara, thanks, my cats keep trying to drink the clay water, perhaps its the minerals in the clay they are attracted to.

  7. I had two small glasses of wine this evening, and they were small...... and here I am seeing a pink elephant! What an amusing use of fiberglass!.. and yes, it made me jolly too!

    Nice slip/ terra sigillata demo too.
    I found an interesting post about terra sig at

    I remember reading once about someone who used a layer of terra sigillata inside a vase that was made from rather porous clay before glazing it. This made the vase leak free. I've been meaning to try that myself.

  8. Hi Peter, thanks, you just needed to have one more small glass of wine, te he. Thanks for the link I will check it out. Perhaps the terra sig will work on my black clay and make them water proof and then I can still see the beautiful color of the unglazed black clay on the outside, thanks for the tip.


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