Outcome of Large Black Clay Figure

(Following on from previous blogs:)

Making sense of a spidery web of lines across the figure was really, really hard. So, I just picked up the most recognisable elements and painted those on while leaving some other elements for later to fill in.

When viewing this piece from a certain angle, which replicates the positioning of the image projector used to cast the initial pattern onto the piece for marking up, the distorted pattern visually realigns itself. I wonder how many people will actually ever notice this.

This drawing had originally more colours, i.e. white, black, red and green. I made a mistake by not working out how this would translate into a two tone pattern before painting on the shellac. Thus, I had to change the dotted areas to solids to allow the other adjacent areas to be dotted. This also meant that I had to scratch out white deciding lines. This is not the best way of ensuring clean lines as the shellac is brittle and splinters off.

I decided to add strong lines around the outside of the patterned areas to keep them contained.

Below left: Next I added some other fields which are filled with Pueblo inspired patterns. These are not distorted but painted on freehand.

Below right: I decided that I wanted a denser pattern and added extra lines between the patterns. Then I carefully water etched the figure. This was more difficult than with other clays as it contains lots of grog.

Because this piece is not going to have any glaze applied to it I decided to fire it from bone-dry all the way to stoneware bypassing an additional bisque firing stage. Dave put it on an extremely cautious slow firing.

I am really pleased with the finished result. The patterns work well with the final shape, the colour contrasts work well and the fired clay colour is what I was looking for. Only slight blemishes are on left: pattern not as defined where I didn't apply the shellac thick enough to resist the water etching and right: slight lighter colouration where the piece was touching the kiln shelf during firing.

This piece combines influences of Pueblo potter Maria Martinez's black-ware with Pueblo decorations and geometric Islamic patterns. I am very pleased with the cross-cultural pattern references on this very biomorphic shape.

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