Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Slip Strip Tap Tap Tap

Here's another bargello tower about 12 x 5 x 4 inches. I'm calling these bargello because they have the needlepoint pattern of bargello. I've used greens, gold and a red terracotta underglaze. The red terracotta color turns brown after firing. Once the underglazes dry the colors change, then when the piece is bisque fired the colors change again, maybe fading, maybe getting darker or brighter. Then when I put on the clear glaze and fire the piece again, the colors change to their final state. Perhaps I should use this piece for an example, taking a photo after each step and put them up here, so you and I can see the differences, it might be fun.

Certain afghan styles also use this pattern. I didn't notice the pattern on the afghan below until after I made the first one of these bargello pieces. Michele Hastings mentioned afghans to me and I remembered this afghan I have in the guest bedroom which I got at a thrift store years ago. Afghans are wonderful to use in the winter to keep warm while sitting in a chair or on the couch and most can be tossed in the washer and dryer.

These bargello tower pieces take an inordinate amount of time to make. First I take a slab of clay and roll it out, then I cut the clay into thin strips. then I lay down one strip flat and decide what size and shape I'll make the piece. I roll out the bottom and attach the first strip of clay to the bottom. Next I add slip to the first strip of clay and then add the next strip, patting down the strip to the previous one with a flat wooden spoon. (Slip is liquid clay used to attach clay pieces one to another)

Tap, tap, tap, around and around
then add the next strip with slip,
then tap, tap, tap, around and around
Up and up I go,
slip, strip, tap, tap, tap;
slip, strip, tap, tap, tap
Up and up I go
slipping, stripping, tapping,
around and around I go.

I must work quickly to get to the top. I can't rest because you see the strips I've cut may dry out too much if I don't work quickly. There are twenty seven strips of clay in this piece. Once I get to the top I rest for a moment or two.

Now I get out my underglazes and stains and I start at the bottom with the first underglaze color for the bargello pattern. I hand brush the underglaze around the piece. I started with an olive green, then another green, then a light green, then a gold, then a terracotta color. Back to olive, green, light green, gold, and terracotta. Brush, brush, brush, around and around, again and again, till I get to the top. There are thirty one rows of underglaze colors on this piece. I see a couple of the butted seams are showing but they weren't when I started; nothing to do about that now.

I want to make more of these, one with blues, one with purples, one with reds, one with yellows, and so forth. But I can only make one of these a day, you can probably see why. Much concentration is needed to make just one, then I'm all concentrated out. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.


  1. Nice tower and I like the colors. Maybe I will crochet an afghan.


  2. I never knew the name of the design of those afghans I grew up covering myself with whenever I felt sick. Gorgeous colors in your tower...and what a lot of concentration!

  3. Why not cover your strips of clay with some plastic wrap, then you won't feel pressured to work as quickly.

  4. I was thinking what Lori said about plastic. That's what I do with my extruded pig parts (that sounds icky!) as well as handle lugs that are waiting to be pulled.

    My grandmother gave me a blue afghan in that design that she had made when I was a kid... when I first got married no one told me it was wool and I washed and dried it :o(

  5. Bargello is a great name for the towers. You're so creative, Linda!!

    Once I wrap my head around iPhoto, I'll send those photos from the Maine trip. We bought two chowder mugs with sailing scenes on the sides. I walked right past the mugs that were more like small bowls with handles. But my New Hampshire hub lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw them.

  6. They would make nice vases with colorful flowers standing in them.

  7. I love these and would be so grateful if you could/would publish work in progress photos.

  8. That is a really splendid effect!

  9. Hi Elna, thanks, wonder what colors you will choose for your afghan?

    Hi Barbara, thanks, I think the afghans may have a different name to the pattern, but what do I know, I do know that the original came from Afghanistan.

    Hi Lori, thanks, I thought about covering the strips of clay but I actually need them somewhat firm because I have to add so much slip to get them to stick together they get soft again, it's a fine line either way with this way of making.

    Hi Michele, thanks, do you still have the afghan? Perhaps washed it was warmer. The one I have is acrylic so it can be washed.

    Hi Kittie, thanks, so glad to hear your trip was fun, we hope to get up to New Hampshire one of these days, Gary's cousin lives there and his grandparents settled there from Finland.

    Hi Gigi, thanks, you could probably do the colors justice, me I'd be afraid it would be too bold and would probably choose only one color flower or stems or leaves or some such.

    Hi Elephant's Child, thanks, it would be nice to see the difference in the colors, so hard to picture in my mind when it's wet when it's just applied.

    Hi Ms. Sparrow, thanks, I can't wait to get a bunch of these so I can take a photo of them all together. Oh I wonder if someone who crochets or knits would make a mini afghan in the same colors and they could be displayed together, that would be so much fun.


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