Tag Archives: ceramic

My Ceramic Journey

You may recall that I started making things with air dry clay about two years ago. I enjoy it so much that I find time in the evenings and at weekends to do my clay projects. Some time this year I found myself dissatisfied with my tried-and-tested materials – I longed for that shine we see in ceramics, and greater strength. I also wanted my work to be guaranteed food-safe and waterproof. I have been playing with the idea to build a ceramic collection for my shop, or when I hold a stall, but I don’t feel comfortable selling crockery made of air dry clay so I decided to look into firing my creations instead.

I found a local kiln firing service about 30 minutes drive away, and got a batch of small bowls, dishes, pots, and a mug – a very wonky mug! – bisque fired for the first time. I was very pleased that they came out well, and couldn’t wait to start decorating them.

Painting with underglazes turned out to be quite time consuming. They don’t have quite the same effect as acrylic paint, the application needs several coats to be apparent and I got the impression from ceramic websites that it is normal.

That was around the beginning of September. While painting my first batch, I had the idea that I could try selling ceramic Christmas decorations on my stalls. It is usually easier to judge how well my products are selling in person than on my shop so I wanted to grab the opportunity. I made some circle and star shapes with the help of cookie cutters. The bisque fire went well except for one breakage and then I spent two evenings painting the pieces. Then it was my first time getting my glazed work fired. I was very nervous!

It turned out I was right to be worried. They didn’t come out as I imagined them to look like. There were no serious cracks or explosions in the kiln, but they simply didn’t have that ceramic shine I wanted and the underglazes didn’t look right. I had thrown myself in the deep end not knowing much about ceramics, and I had to find out why they looked dull. After googling I suspect that they were under-fired or I didn’t apply enough overglaze for them to mature in the kiln.

I was extremely deflated. I realised that I picked a hobby that is expensive and challenging. But I am prepared to persist!

I recently found out that there is another local kiln firing service 5-10 minutes drive away – it is either new or I missed it in my original research! So I will be firing my next batch (hopefully with better glaze application) at that place to see if the outcome is the same or not.

I have asked for a good ceramic advice book for Christmas and hope I have better luck next time! Off I go to continue painting my first batch…

Previous posts: Part 1Part 2 | Part 3

Experimenting With Clay Part 2

Clay creations second round

Do you share your makes even though you don’t like them yourself?

I finished those clay dishes over a month ago and hesitated to share pictures because I wasn’t happy with them. I cringe every time I see them sitting on my shelf that I might just hide them away in my drawers eventually. However, there are some days where I look at them and think that they are maybe rather sweet.

For the last few evenings while working on more clay pieces, I thought about why I don’t like them and how I can improve next time.

  • The colours are nice but as a collection, no. For instance, my first batch looks lovely because I’ve only used black, white, and gold. But I have to remind myself that they don’t have to be a literal collection.
  • I feel that those dishes with etchings would be better off in one light colour or left in its natural colour so the etchings stand out more rather than being overwhelmed with 2 or 3 colours.
  • I didn’t like how my last choice of varnish wasn’t completely transparent so I used Mod Podge by a recommendation and it was much better transparency wise but the surface is tacky to touch. Reading the back of the container, it suggests to use clear acrylic sealer to eliminate tackiness when it states that Mod Podge itself is a sealer (as well as glue and finish) so instead of being confused, I’ve bought another sealer and hoping it is a better choice!

I’ve said in my previous clay related post that I didn’t like Das so this time I tried Claydium, which is much nicer to sculpt with.

It is clear that I am still in experimenting phase. It’s been since November. As far as my budget allows, I am finding the best brands of both air dry clay and sealer for me and hopefully new clay collection to sell in the shop. It is so important to me that they are good quality, durable, and ultimately pretty.