With the exception of the Open Window mural, I hand painted all these pieces with layers of low fire glazes on white ceramic bisque tiles or switchplate and outlet covers. As an experiment, I used terra cotta bisque tiles for the Open Window Mural.
MY TILE PAINTING PROCESS
I first used a wide brush to paint a thick base layer of glaze onto the tiles. When that has dried, I either brush or sponge on a layer of another glaze or two. After those glazes have dried, I used smaller, finer brushes to paint on the designs using glazes in a variety of colors.
When the tile is dry again, I paint black outlines around the design to make them pop.
When that has dried, I use a fettling knife to scrape the sides of each tile to remove any glaze that’s overflowed onto them and give the tile backs a gentle sponging to make sure they’re glaze free. It’s important to remove any glaze from the sides or back of a tile since those bits of glaze will flux in the heat of the kiln and cause the tile to fuse onto the tile rack or kiln shelf where it makes contact.
It usually takes me several days to finish each tile to get it ready to fire in my kiln. For the switchplate and outlet covers, I usually sponge on several layers of different glazes and then use brushes to paint the design.
Layering the glazes lets me achieve a more complex finished result that often resembles clay ware fired in a high fire, combustible fuel, reduction kiln. Sometimes I’m thrilled to find that fine crystals have developed in the glazes during the low fire process.
All pieces are fired to cone 04 (about 1930 degrees Fahrenheit) in my ancient, small Skutt (2.36 cubic foot) electric kiln. Opening a kiln after ceramic ware has been fired and cooled enough to handle is exciting - like Christmas morning. You don’t know what you’re going to find as you unload the shelves. You’ve painted a dull, yellow looking glaze on your work and it has miraculously turned a lovely mottled blue during the firing. The glaze layers often interact with each in ways you hadn’t expected. Usually that’s a delightful surprise.
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