Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mad Scientist

I was inspired to make some textured tiles with high contrast. I just love the contrast of two different clays used together. My original idea was to use contrasting slip on a dark clay body, trailing it or pouring it on the black tile. I didn't have any slip made up, so I made these.

I've used the cassius basaltic clay and some little loafers a local potter gave me to try. This probably isn't a good trial for the little loafers clay, but it was the only white clay I had. These tiles are about 7.25 inches square. When the tiles are fired the brown clay will turn a rich ebony black and hopefully will contrast nicely against the white clay.

Using two clays together isn't new for me, especially black and white clays. It's something I come back to often. I plan to leave the clay tiles natural without glaze. Now I'm wondering if I should coat them with a spray after they are fired so they can be dusted? What do you think? Have you used a sealer or spray on clay tiles used as a wall hanging? I guess more testing is necessary. Idea, test, idea, test, test, test.

I scribed a grid work on the back of the tile for better adhesion in case I decide to mount them on wood. Now I'm drying them, hoping they don't warp. I can't stack them due to the applied texture. How do you dry tile so the don't warp? Maybe I should use wallboard.

Then there's the firing - fire flat, or fire upright to help prevent warping? If I fire upright the applied texture might have a tendency to pop off. I'll probably fire them on a light dusting of sand. More testing needed.

Gary came into the studio to see what I was working on and he said, "What's the mad scientist working on this evening?" Wikipedia says, "Some mad scientists - and there are lots of them - are simply scientists who have become obsessively involved with their studies and so have begun to develop eccentricities beyond normal standards." I feel like a mad scientist with all my ideas and subsequent testing needed.


  1. I'm a Mad Scientist too! Isn't it fun!
    I was wondering if you ever roll the applied decoration until it is fairly flat? (I know that it will spread though). I was just wondering how textures like the ones in the first tile would turn out that way? I guess it might be possible to apply a warm wax polish to a warm tile as a coating on a tile that was fairly porous and not too textured??

  2. I would dry on plaster board - nice and slow.
    And I fire flat.
    These are fun Linda!

  3. looking forward to seeing these fired. Very interesting. Go, Mad Scientist, go!

  4. Mad Scientist?? Now that is a good thing.

  5. I was wondering the same as Peter, a long time ago I did some tiles with two different clays and rolled the clay in flat with a rolling pin. It was very nice. I guess if that's the definition of a mad scientist, pretty much all of us fit in there don't we!
    I usually fire my tiles upright, but I don't worry about the warping issue, I expect it, they go through a Raku fire or a distressing to make them look old so the warps fit right in.

  6. Hi Peter, thanks, I have embedded the contrasting clay in the dark clay before. I made some plates like that - here is the link for those -


    they came out quite nice although the glaze didn't melt quite enough on them. for these wall tiles though I wanted the texture to be on top of the tile, we shall see how they turn out.

    Hi Meredith, thanks, I know I had some wallboard at my last place but don't know where it is now. I have a couple of rice bags on one tile since it is now warping up, Ugh.

    Hi Patricia, thanks, I hope the texture stays put, got my fingers crossed.

    Hi Patti, thanks, yeah this is one time when mad is good. he he.

    Hi Tracey, thanks, I was glad I looked up mad scientist, it does seem to fit doesn't it. ha. I am hoping to mount these on a board as a group, so I want them to be fairly flat, I really need to find that wallboard or go get some this am.

  7. These are fun! Hope they dry ok.
    Mad scientist..., hm....., don't you have to be a little mad to be a scientist in the fist place? (or a ceramist for that matter, haha)

  8. I dry my tiles on a bakers rack so they can get air on both sides and dry evenly, I have minimal warping that way.
    I use a non-yellowing clear acrylic spray on my naked raku and fumed pieces, it works well, try it and see how you like it. I'd love to see the finished work.

  9. Hi Monique, thanks, yes just a little mad, mad about clay.

    Hi Lori, thanks, what a good idea about drying them on bakers racks; I will have to try that. Also a clear acrylic spray is what I was thinking of, didn't know there was such a thing as a non yellowing type, but that would be best don't want that look of yellow waxed floors of old. Thanks again.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment