Friday, April 12, 2013

The Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony - Part 2

Mask, Bisque Fired
Due to my own anxiety, I had bisque-fired the mask on its own in the small kiln - I was really uncertain it would survive, even though I had been very careful in fabricating it. Luckily, all was fine.

Once the mask had cooled sufficiently, I brought it in and started glazing it. I knew it was going to be a multi-step process: glaze sauce (three colors); wax resist pasta and sauce; stain (and nuance) meatballs; wax meatballs; finally, glaze the rest of the face.

Working methodically, I applied three coats of Amaco Celebration Series Scarlet Red to all of the sauce areas (photo below, left). (It helped that I had other things to do in the studio, including glazing some ladybugs on a commission toad house Scarlet Red and Black, it also helped that I had a fan I could put on the piece to speed up the drying, as well as the fact that I had forgotten an appointment, which gave the piece additional time to dry between coats.) I knew I didn't want the "sauce" to be the same color - nothing is really all the same color, after all. So, after applying the Scarlet Red and letting it dry completely, I added dabs of Burgundy from the same glaze series (photo below, center) and, finally, dabs of Clementine, also from the Celebration glaze series (photo below, right).

Mask Waxed
Next, I applied wax resist to all the areas of "pasta" and "sauce" to minimize the chances of their getting the other (much darker) stains and glazes on them. I tend to use the wax resist from the jug at a 1:4 ratio with water. Thicker wax resist is harder to apply precisely and takes a very long time to dry. Thinner wax resist can provide less protection if it isn't allowed to dry completely, so I often put my waxed pieces in front of a fan or under the heat vent in the basement (if the heat is on).

Mask Glazed
Once the wax was completely dry, I applied a water-based Burnt Umber solution to the "meatballs" using a very small brush (the space was very tight, as I had applied "pasta" over some of the "meatballs") and, as much as I could, removed the excess using a damp sponge, a technique I have used to great effect on many of my "leaf"pieces for nearly 20 years. By taking even a bit of the stain or colorant off with the sponge, nuance is added to the piece, generally to positive effect.

Mask Glaze Fired
After having waxed the "meatballs" and allowed the wax to completely set and dry, it was time to glaze the rest of the face. I had had make up some small batches of some glaze recipes I was given my my first pottery teacher, Gene Pluhar, including a glaze called Matte Black Brown. This glaze is actually intended to be used in a Cone 6 reduction environment (I fire Cone 6 oxidation) but I really liked the glaze's irregular pitted surface in my firing conditions and figured I might have a use for it at some time in the future. I thought it would be an effective finish for the "skin" on "Gluttony" as I wanted to convey the sense of having eaten to such excess that the image was irretrievably corrupted. Again, using a very small brush, I applied the glaze (rather thickly) over all exposed areas of the face. (I did miss one area, but I'm not telling where....)

I fired the piece on a four-hour cycle at Cone 6 on four stilts. I was delighted when I opened up the kiln and saw the final results. "Gluttony" was shaping up very nicely....

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