Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Sgraffito Pinch Bowl Part Three
Look what I saw today in a small lake in downtown Inverness, Florida. An alligator! He was about seven feet long. At first only his eyes were visible above the surface of the water. Later he came up to sun himself, lounging in the water reeds. Doesn't he look like he's smiling?
If you just arrived on my blog, I pinched a bowl from a red clay called Navajo Wheel. Later when the bowl was bone dry I applied three layers of white slip to the inside of the bowl and let it dry completely. It doesn't take the slip long to dry on the bone dry bowl, overnight was sufficient. My intention is to carve into the white slip and the color of the clay beneath will reveal the design I carve.
I'm using the rounded portion of a trimming tool to carve through the white slip. Be sure to wear a dust mask when carving into dry clay since clay dust is hazardous to your lungs. I am sure there are better tools to use for sgraffito, but since I'm teaching myself, I used what I thought would work. If you know other tools which would work, please let me know. After using the trimming tool on dry clay I'm sure it will be dull and no longer good for trimming wet clay.
I hold the bowl firmly in my hands, but not so firm as to break the bone dry clay bowl. It isn't easy to carve through three layers of slip and I have to press very hard. I don't draw my design on the clay beforehand, I just eyeball the design and carve away. I was going to make the reverse of the previous sgraffito bowl(scroll down to the second photo), but I just couldn't make myself repeat that design this time. So I carved this spiral and let the end trail off the edge of the bowl where there was a slight intention in the clay at the edge. To complete the bowl, I'll bisque fire the bowl and then use a satin clear glaze and refire it.
If you'd like to see some very intricate designs using this same sgraffito technique be sure to visit Varda Sharon Kramer's blog and scroll down in the post to see her bowls. I can't imagine how long it must take her to carve the designs, which are truly exquisite. Comments and questions are welcome.