Jan 22, 2012

Using Linocuts with Porcelain Clay

I've been experimenting with combining my love of linocuts (linoleum block printing) and porcelain clay. Over the holidays, I made several linocuts on unmounted linoleum, and used them to make a series of pendants and porcelain beads that were really exciting.

Here's a picture of the linoleum cuts. You can use mounted or unmounted linoleum. I like the unmounted because I can cut a large sheet to the size I want. You can get several designs from a8 x 10 sheet:

I rolled my porcelain pretty thin. Then, pressing carefully and evenly, I rolled the linocut over the clay - then cut out the design.

Here's a picture of a birdcage design that is glazed, but not fired. Notice the amount of shrinkage, and the  fact that the image will be reversed on the final design:

I took a picture of one of the leaf designs I made. On the left you see the original linocut. In the center is the busque leaf with glaze applied and lightly wiped off to show detail, and on the left is a finished leaf.  The amount of shrinkage is pretty significant:

Lessons learned:
Don't handle the porcelain too much before it's dry. Porcelain retains a "memory" of it's shape before drying and if it's bent or curved before firing, it tends to return to that shape in the kiln.
Take shrinkage into account when carving designs. It shrunk a lot, which made some of my carving lines almost too thin.
Watch out for sharp linoleum cutters! Those things are sharp!

This was a hugely satisfying learning experience for me. I can see lots of uses for this technique and I can't wait to explore it further.  You can buy your linoleum block printing supplies at online art stores.

Jan 7, 2012

Happy New Year (belated!)

It's been such a busy season and I've really fallen behind in my blogging. I wanted to wish all my friends out there in bloggeryland a happy and prosperous New Year, too!

I took some time off from nonstop clay sculpting and messed around with painting and other crafty stuff that I havent gotten to do much of, since I was so slammed with orders, etc. I also started making more ceramic beads and pendants. I used to make so many of these when I first started selling online and I guess this is going back to my roots, so to speak.
Check it out:

I used porcelain and white stoneware clays. It's a repetitive and somewhat mesmerizing process to sit there rolling beads by hand.  I also cut some linoleum and used that to press out some pendants.

I can't wait to get them glazed and in the kiln. I'll probably list them all in my Etsy shop when they're done.