Thursday, 24 February 2011

Tutorial-Ceramic Wedding Favours by TaitGallery

Ceramic Wedding Favour Tutorial courtesy of TaitGallery

This shows you how I make my lovely ceramic wedding favours.


Materials required

Clay, any kind but white earthenware picks up the detail nicely.

Access to a kiln

Glaze

Ribbon for decoration

Instruction: One

The clay has to be wedged to get rid of air bubbles. This is a strenuous activity that involves much throwing and cutting of the wet clay until no more air bubbles are visible.

Then the clay must be rolled out so it is an even depth all over. I use two guide sticks of even depth wood.

Tthe decoration is rolled onto the clay. In the picture this is some antique lace that I love the pattern of.

The clay needs to be left to dry a little until it is managable. I use different shapes of cookie cutters to shape the clay into the favour. In this case a heart shape.


Two

You need to leave the cut outs until they are leather hard. This is the stage in the drying process that you can carefully handle the clay without affecting the shape too much.

Press some letter blocks into the shapes to spell out your personal message. At this stage I sometimes add little clay butterflies or other details in a contrasting clay.

Drill a hole in the top of the heart and cut off any excess clay around the hole.

Leave the shapes for at least a couple of days to dry out completely

Firing

Each piece has to be fired twice. The first time is called the biscuit firing and matures the clay to a permanent state. I biscuit fire my ceramics to 1100 degrees (cone 02) to fully mature the clay but usually 1000 would be enough. I tend to stack the kiln to bursting on the first firing for reasons of economy.

After about 24 hours of cooling you can open the kiln and when the ceramics are cooled fully they can be glazed.


Glazing

I hand paint each piece with a low firing earthenware glaze in a semi transparent colour. Any other glaze might obscure the lettering on the favour. Sometimes I paint the favour and then wash off the glaze leaving just the lettering and decoration glazed for a different effect.

The second firing is to mature the glaze and turn it from its powdery consistency into its glossy, glass like state. I fire my kiln to 1020 degrees (cone 5) for a glaze firing. This time the kiln has to be more carefully stacked with the favours lifted from the shelves on tripods to stop them sticking and no two pieces touching each other

This is my favourite bit! It's so exciting to open the kiln after the glaze firing and see all your work transformed and jewel like. Don't be over eager to open the kiln too soon. Let the work cool as much as you can to avoid crackling the glaze from thermal shock (take it from one who knows).

When the work has cooled it just needs finishing.

Cut two pieces of ribbon. One about 40cm and one about 20cm. Use one as the hanging ribbon and the shorter one as the bow (tie the bow away from you, it comes out neater for some reason).

Trim the edges of the ribbon to look good and there you have it.

2 comments:

nuvonova said...

This is SO interesting!! Reallllllllllly makes me want to do it and to own a kiln! I did ceramics for my GCSE's and I forgot how fun it was until I read this post!

Angela said...

It's the best fun. I'm really a fine artist but I just can't keep away from the clay.