Thursday, May 2, 2013

Blue and white dragons

            Another glaze adventure: blue and white dragon plates. These are porcelain plates that I painted dragons on with blue glaze, then poured an even layer of clear glaze over the dragons. I'm using a Mason stain for my blue, so it's not the deep color of pure cobalt, but a softer, brighter blue.

           The plate above is my favorite of the two. The dragon is more complex, and curled in a way that fills up the space on the plate with its presence. I also like its face and wing a lot.

            On the other hand, the dragon on the second plate has a pretty cute face, and I like the frill and wing on this one, too. This dragon is a little simpler and a little coarser.
            Another difference between these two plates is the way I glazed the underside of each. On the first plate, I allowed the clear glaze to spill over when I was glazing the top of the plate and left the drips rather than removing them. On the second plate, I painstakingly removed all the dripped glaze (except for one tiny bit I missed. White glaze on white pot - hard to see!). The clear glaze is glossy, but the bare porcelain is matte. So the drips are a bit subtle on the first plate, appearing mostly through the way they reflect light.

            The second plate looks like this:

            Bare porcelain is still very white without glaze, and I gently sanded the unglazed areas with fine sandpaper after the plates came out of the kiln. Sanded porcelain feels very nice under the fingers, and I usually do this to the foot of every pot I make. It makes the pot feel more refined. I think often about how pots will feel when touched as I am making them. Where will it be rough? Smooth? Slick? Grippy? Glossy glaze feels different than matte glaze, and porcelain feels different than stoneware.
            I often use the roughness of my red stoneware on purpose as a contrasting sensation to shiny glazes. I often smooth porcelain as much as I can in the raw state, then sand it after bisque firing and after glaze firing. The last sanding of the porcelain usually doesn't require much time at all. I also do my best to make the bottoms of pots and sculptures tabletop friendly. I once gave someone a handsome vase I had made, and she set it on a wooden table. This was just fine until someone decided to turn it around to look at the other side without lifting it from the table, and the rough clay left scratch marks. Yikes! Since then I think about the bottoms a lot more. Every pot gets set down somewhere, and it needn't leave damage behind.

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