Not sure if I can blame it on the moon, my overactive imagination or some kind of freak hormonal imbalance, but this week tested my ability to put on a happy face. Though there is nothing directly wrong with me, it just seems like bad news here and there put a damper on the blissful high my friends and I experienced after celebrating the marriage of dear, dear people within our circle. I'm carrying a heavy heart...and I can't quite put my finger on why. At the risk of being too punny, I feel like I'm slippin'.
I knew I was feeling the lingering effects of that blue mood as I tried to talk myself out of going to the studio. Finally, I tied up my hair, put on my knockarounds and made my way to my dusty haven.
And I'm really glad I did.
Today we learned how to make slip, and the finer art of slip decorative techniques on leatherhard or fresh pieces. Though I've now been working in clay for several years, I've never once used this method of decoration. But after a day with our brilliant instructor, I think I may be hooked.
Applying the slip is simple enough. It can be applied during the drying process, either fresh from the wheel, or after a week or so of slow drying (Leatherhard). It can be brushed on with a stiff brush that shows the brush strokes against your clay body. It can also be applied, dried then scraped away to show striking distinction between a light body/dark slip dark body/light slip. Like many elements of the ceramic process, the possibilities are endless.
As I'm naturally drawn to carving and other forms of augmenting work, I decided to brush slip onto some freshly thrown pieces, with the intention of carving them then glazing in a celadon or clear glaze. I'm working with b-mix, a porcelain-like clay body, and the slip we used in class has a muted black finish. I'm eager to see the finished work.Naturally, I'll share those results here.
By the end of the day, I had a shelf-full of items thrown and painted. They'll dry, and while that happens, I'll work through the patterns I plan to carve into them. That gives me something to daydream about. Something enjoyable to plot during those small hours of the night when the boogy-man likes to invade my heart and mind. As I walked out of the studio, clay covered and at peace...I remembered that this craft will always give me far more than I could ever hope to give it. I'm thankful for that.
As for patterns for carving, I'll have to take out the sketch pad and doodle. While I love artists that can replicate flowers, animals or other forms, mine are almost always abstract, ethereal patterns and waves, very similar to the mandalas I've drawn for years. Some of the slip looks so nice by itself, I may allow it to remain untouched.
I've got some time to figure it out.