I had a genius idea in the studio the other day. Why not try printing one of my lino blocks– but instead of using ink and paper, why not use underglaze and clay? So I did. And the photo above shows how it went. I haven’t fired them yet, but these mugs will be epic 🙂 I guess my friends probably saw it coming as soon as they knew I was taking a print making class here in Australia. I have other friends who use printing techniques on clay, but I’ve never heard of using a lino block directly on clay with underglaze. I did an embossed cup as well, similar to a blind embossing when testing how a lino block prints using a medium pressure setting on an Enjay press. I didn’t put a handle on that cup because it seemed a little too narrow for a mug. Anyway, I plan on just using a clear glaze over top of the underglaze as is custom. The firing temperature is up in the air at this point… I was told today that I am restricted to cone 6, which means I will have to reformulate glaze recipes before mixing. I’m not too happy about the idea of firing at cone 6. It seems like such an illogical temperature. Ceramic art isn’t eco-friendly– that’s just how it is. By skimping a few degrees, it just hurts the possibilities you could achieve at a higher temperature, and I doubt it makes too much of a difference for the ozone layer… yes, it does cost a bit more to reach that temperature, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run. The best comparison I can think of at the moment is when people buy skim milk instead of whole milk. If it’s a taste thing, fine. But if it’s because you think it’s healthier to cut out some of the milk’s natural fat and that you will lose a few pounds because you drink skim milk, that’s ridiculous. Whole milk tastes so much better, and if it’s whole, it’s closer to how it naturally occurs, which means it should be better for you, right? At least it tastes better and if you are drinking enough milk to gain weight from it, that’s just weird. So that’s my point. The fat, the temperature, sometimes you need to go all the way with things for them to be at their fullest potential. So I like to fire at cone 10 in a gas kiln with a satin matte glaze that I formulated myself– the crystal growth is so beautiful. Subtle, small crystals coating the surface like when the window of a car is lightly frosted, just past the freezing point by a few degrees. A beautifully smooth but buttery satin surface. The temperature and the density of the clay makes all the difference. I will figure out how to make my work decent and appealing here, but I can’t wait to be able to fire at cone 10 in a gas kiln again. On my own. I miss firing. I am going through a withdrawal.
Ok, so this was another studio experiment that same day. Before I went to the ceramic studio, I decided to print a few things. I mixed up a coral colored ink to do the second layer on a blood red print of my wood grain texture block (the same block as on the mugs above) and the different colors I used to make the color were still visibly separate in some areas, so it gave me an idea. I got a paint brush, a dab of linseed oil, and thinned out the individual colors– then proceeded to paint them individually on different areas of the block. My professor told me about a Japanese technique of printmaking where different colors were applied to the same block with a brush prior to printing it. He said that it was too advanced and didn’t expect me to go that far. I wanted to try the idea. I don’t think it’s the same thing he was talking about, but I still got decent results and I think it could have potential. I’m not bragging about my work. I am just excited about the idea of being able to apply different colors like a painting but it doesn’t take nearly as long to do. And ink dries faster than oil paint, in my opinion so far. But yeah, more photos to come!