Monday, February 19, 2007

Mini Things I'm Working On

Inspired by Kerri Pajutee, I am trying my hand at sculpting a mini dog which, when I get it refined to the best of my abilities, I will cover in fur. The first and second photos are the basic shape over a wire armateur and the third shows him with a little more meat on his bones and the one ear that didn't fall off when I baked him. I have a really long way to go before I can even say I'm making these 'in the style' of Kerri Pajutee but I'm trying.

The fourth photo is of the paint job so far on the interior of the witch's cottage, a project I am dangerously obsessed with. I can hardly think of anything else. I first painted two coats of Gesso sanding lightly in between and then a coat of 'Sand' colored Ceramacoat acrylic paint. Then I mixed an acrylic gel medium with a Teddy Bear Tan and another goldy/brown shade (can't recall what color) plus some metallic paint. I dabbed this all over with a medium sized brush and then scrunched up a plastic grocery bag and just pounced all over to get a textured effect. I intend to go back with some darker shades and repeat this process. I want the walls to be a goldish mottled, aged color and texture. I've also ordered a few Halloween/witch items from some eBay miniature sources and a kit to make a spell book and set of tarot cards from Paper Mini's. As I say, obsession. There is a little antique store nearby in Campobello that sells old timey toys. I bought a large clear marble with a blue swirl effect inside that I intend to turn into a crystal ball. I borrowed a little Avon ginger jar bottle with a plastic base and today went to Clay King in Spartanburg (they mainly sell on the web) and bought clay to make molds, and also to try my hand at throwing miniature pottery on the children's pottery wheel my brother and I had as children and never used. Maybe it will go slowly enough for a rank amateur not to broadcast huge amounts of wet clay all over everything in my basement.

The last pix is very blurry but I couldn't seem to get a good shot with the flash at such close range so turned it off and must have breathed. Oh well. You can probably basically tell it's my attempt at a pet iguana/lizard type animal for the witch's cottage.

Another reason I had to visit Clay King was this major tear-inducing problem with my kiln--or slip--or whatever. Both kiln loads I have spent hours and hours pouring, soft-firing, cleaning and bisque firing have been almost completely ruined. Most pieces either partially or completely collapse in upon themselves, turn white or pale pink and look oily or greasy. I've received conflicting explanations or suggestions including "your kiln is firing too hot and melting your pieces" to "you're underfiring" to "that's evidently not porcelain slip but a low-fire ceramic slip." So who knows. I had to go buy witness cones 5, 6 and 7 and I'm going to sit three of them on each shelf next time I attempt to fire and see to what temperature it's firing. Back in the days of my porcelain doll firing phase, I never had any major issues. I am baffled and weary trying to figure out whether it's the wrong temp or I've somehow mixed ceramic slip with porcelain slip. Anything is possible. And there are no sources for porcelain slip--specifically Seeley's French Bisque in my immediate area anymore and it costs a small fortune to have it shipped. So, I've managed to waste time, money, materials and electricity in my first attempts to fire mini porcelain dolls and my cherubs. But I'm going to persevere and figure this out.

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