Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Directions & Questions

Behind the scenes and in progross, I've been working on wall plaques, tiles, and mixed media projects. Various textures, sprigs, slips, engobes, terra sig, glazes, found objects and more are invading my palette. Along the way I've had issues with warping tiles, flexible backing material, epoxy not adhering, and learning how to construct frames. So I thought I'd post to see if other's have ideas about some of the issues.

When we were traveling across the country in our RV, I collected a few rusty mementos I found at roadside stops. The piece of metal in the first piece I got from the parking lot where we had our trailer axle fixed when it broke. There's a ceramic shelf below the metal, as if it's holding up the metal, but the metal will be glued to the ceramic backing. For years I've also collected driftwood. I a couple of boxes full. Every time we move Gary asks me if I need the boxes of driftwood or can he throw them out. I told him I planned on using them. Each time he just shook his head and said "Sure, uh huh, I believe you".

Well I'm finally getting around to using some of the treasures I've collected over the years. A gopher tortoise in our yard pushed up the two pieces of limestone I've used. I don't know why, but at the time I was so excited to see the two pieces of limestone on the ground. I started thinking of the tortoise digging tunnels and living under the ground while we humans are walking above, unaware of this whole other world below us. I thought the driftwood looked a bit like the shape of a ghostly person.

A tortoise in our neighborhood was killed by the county lawn mowers and I felt so bad about that. Our neighbor put a small white cross where the tortoise shell remains on his property. I plan to construct a shadow box type frame for the piece; a sort of tortoise shrine. Maybe a rusty metal shadow box would look good or a rustic wooden one, so many choices.

I started out making single tiles and then tile groupings which I planned to mount on wood, like the woodland spirit I made during the summer. Later I felt some of the pieces needed a frame around them and then I thought some would look better in more of a shadow box. I guess some of the pieces are really containers of my thoughts and feelings.

Then I started worrying about the weight of the tiles mounted to wood and how heavy they would be to hang from a wall. I thought about using Plexiglas to mount the tile groupings to reduce the weight. I got some 1/4 inch thick Plexiglas and mounted the set of tiles below on gray Plexiglas. But when I picked the piece up the Plexiglas flexed and one tile broke loose. Luckily it didn't drop on the ground.

Maybe I need to use thicker Plexiglas and something other than two part epoxy. Gary said I should use silicone. I'll try that next. But the Plexiglas might still be flexible. I also thought about using Lexan, but that's more expensive than plexiglas. What to do?

I like the idea of the clear backing for some of the tile groupings I'm making instead of mounting them on wood, like the one below. The paper is still on the back of the Plexiglas, but the oblong tiles are mounted to clear Plexiglas. Do you know about using Plexiglas or know anyone that does? I could sure use some information about combining ceramics with plastic.

I know there is a type of French cleat hanging system, but I have to teach myself how to make one so I can hang some of the heavier pieces safely on walls. Oh, I just found a site that has metal cleats, maybe I won't have to make my own cleats. The piece below is another special one to me. I wish you could see the three dimensionality's of the piece in person. My photo isn't very good but the tile has a pale blue and lavender surface with some coral dots. The black point is slag from welding. When one of the welders saw I was collecting scrap metal in the parking lot in Texas, he said, "Don't leave yet, I've got something I have to give you". He went in the shop and brought me this piece of black slag. Isn't that cool, he wanted to contribute to the process of my art making.

I may want to add a little more color to the background, I wish I had made the coral dots larger. I might use some acrylic paint in places. The black point looks and feels like a volcanic mountain, rough and craggy. I've mounted it to a thick piece of ceramic tile I made especially for it. The tile is more than 1/2 inch thick and I was so happy and proud of myself after the glaze firing when it didn't crack. Then on the left side of the black pointed mountain is a turquoise kiln jewel from a drip of glaze of a piece I made years ago. The coral dots lead to the jewel.

Oh the other thing I notice is the black slag also looks like a human hand with the index finger pointing up. Does it look like that to you? I've just set the piece on a black background and laid the wood around it so you can see how I intend the shadow box to look. I might make the corners mitered. I do know how to use a miter saw and I finally got the right staples for the air staple gun. I also have a finish nail gun I can use.

These are are some of the projects I've been working on. If you have experience mounting ceramic to Plexiglas, gluing unlike materials together, making wood frames or shadow boxes, or making a cleat hanging system with wood, please email or comment here, I'm swimming upstream. Advice, suggestions, and comments are very welcome.
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  1. I am always amazed how you will see something that I would pass right by and incorporate it into a beautiful piece. It is all in the eye and creative mind.
    Love the idea of a tiny cross for the turtle. You have a neat neighbor.

  2. these are going in a great direction and looks like a path worth following- you will work out the details as you move along.

  3. These wall pieces are great. I'm sorry I don't know the answers to your questions -- but I agree with Meredith -- just doing things and trying helps with working out details :))

  4. This may be helpful to you:

    If you can't get to the link I can download the pdf & email it to you.

  5. Linda - I love your new direction and really dig the tile/mural clusters! If you're glueing - I would think that epoxy would be necessary, but I have no experience with plexiglass. One thought would be to drill holes through the plexiglass & affix each tile with a screw/nut system. I've seen people do that type of thing in my L/A program. (though they're not using ceramic components). Good luck!!

    A side note, my good friend Mary Cay makes and sells Kiln Jewels. She perfected some king of recipe to reliably fire them.

  6. Hi Patti, thanks, I guess I've always been a collector, just trying to find a use for them, perhaps to justify my collecting. Ha.

    Hi Meredith, thanks, I just hope I'm not re-inventing the wheel.

    Hi Judy, thanks, yeah I am learning with each group of tiles I make, improving as I go.

    Hi Lori, thanks, I was able to find the link, I just looked briefly and I think there is some good info there I can use. You've also given me an idea to do more searches on various sites, even U tube which I haven't tried yet. And in California I used to belong to a clay forum where I could ask questions, but haven't been there in a while I'll have to check there too, thanks so much.

  7. Hi Cynthia, thanks, I may have to do the drilling to be sure the tiles stay stable on the plexiglass, thanks for that, with temperature changes and with the larger tiles that may be a better solution and safer for the work over time. I wouldn't want one of the tiles to fall on someone and injury them. I've got a link in my blog post on the kiln jewels which goes to a informational item Mary wrote on Ceramic Arts Daily. I remember learning about her kiln jewels from your blog quite some time ago and always intended to order some from her, but never did and then a few months later I got one by accident in my own work at the college. I am still thinking about incorporating her jewels in some of this current work I am doing since the jewels really do appeal to me. Thanks so much

  8. you are one busy gal! the tiles look awesome

  9. Hi Michele, thanks, I'm busy, but none of these are complete, I have a lot of projects and they're all piling up; too many fingers in too many pies perhaps.

  10. You are so dag gum talented! WOW!

  11. Hi Turquoisemoon, thanks so much, dag gum, all this time I thought it was dad gum, te he.

  12. You are amazing and these wall pieces are awesome! Just ask Google and you'll find the answers to your questions.

  13. Those tile groups are just great! I also love the texture in the other pieces, and poor turtle. Keep creating!!!

  14. Hi Marguerite, thanks, I have been checking google, but I may be wording my questions incorrectly, but I didn't get some good feedback above.

    Hi Mary, thanks, I have several more pieces in my mind that have more texture, but with the clay and then found objects on top of that too. Yeah poor tortoise, he was a big one too but as I understand not as big as the tortoise used to be here in Florida, they can get quite huge and live a very long time, such peaceful creatures.

  15. Hey Linda.. thanks for changing your comment options. :) Look forward to seeing more pics of your tiles.

  16. Hi Anne, thanks for letting me know about my comment settings, and thanks for all your informationa and for visiting.


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