Sunday, October 20, 2013

Color, Surface, Text and Image Workshop with Nancy Selvin@Leslie Ceramics on Saturday, October 19th, 10:00-4:00

Below is an example tile from Nancy Selvin, a ceramic artist who favors slab-building with Toki Red clay and then layering greenware or bone-dry pot surfaces with an underglaze pencil, transparent white glaze and silk-screened text.  I found it interesting that she does not use glaze and says that underglaze is a misnomer in her art because it's not a glaze per se, and I'm paraphrasing here, but additional clay body.  In other words, underglaze contains no flux and probably shouldn't contain the word glaze.

Below Nancy is slab building a clay bottle around a foam shape that she had used an electric knife to roughly mimic the form she wanted.  She advised going to a local futon shop and rummaging their remnants bin to purchase inexpensively and create these foam forms.  Miss Selvin acknowledges that her ceramics are not functional and likes to hint at the origin or the process in her finished peaces.  What I didn't show in these photos are the darts that she cut into the sides to make the shoulder of her bottle or the rolled tube that she attaches at the top of her bottle and the hole she pokes at top to release air during the firing.

Below Nancy is soaking a decal she had created with an HP black-and-white laser printer or copier and ceramic decals you can purchase (a 10-pack 8"x10" decal packages at the Big Ceramics Store costs $38).  When you see the label start to separate from the decal paper (this separation happens faster in warm water), you place the label on an already glazed and fired pot and then carefully slide the decal paper from the image with one hand while using your other hand to keep the image adhered to the pot or plate.  Then you take a sponge to blot the excess water and carefully smooth out the wrinkles--where bubbles occur, that part of the image won't adhere to the ceramic.  You have to use a black and white or laser copier that contains iron pigment in the toner which turns to sepia brown after your piece is fired.  I really want to incorporate some old black and white photos in personal ceramics projects that I want to give to family as Xmas presents this season.

Below Nancy is layering translucent white underglaze on a bone dry pot, then taking a needle tool to the painted surface to reveal the substrate, then wielding an underglaze ceramic pencil (though she likes underglaze chalks even better) and then finally marking her pot with it.

Below Nancy is about to layer on silk-screened text to her recently underglazed pot with black underglaze that has dried to an almost-creamy texture.  What I don't show is her applying that black, pretty-dry underglaze with a palette knife onto the edge of a flexible plastic rib and then swiping the rib with black underglaze really quickly in just one swoop onto the silkscreen to affix the text to her pot.  We also had an interesting conversation about copyright infringement and intellectual property.  As a librarian I'm conscientious either about using images or text that are public domain, and if what I'm appropriating isn't copyright-free, then I know I should ask permission from an artist or publisher to use his or her image or words.  There is one artist's site who uses decals in his work that I was looking at this morning, and I was a bit dismayed to see Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or Mulder and Scully from X-Files and other contemporary images on his pieces that were for sale and I wondered whether to email him before he gets sued or ask if maybe he did get permission to use their likenesses in his commercial work.

What I loved about this workshop is the introduction of techniques I wasn't familiar with and that weren't too cost prohibitive.  Nancy fretted a bit about some of the images that we later created silk screens from, but I hope I assured her that her workshop was a great introduction to mashing up other artists' work into something all our own and an impetus, for me, to learning more about silk screening and other media.

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