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printing and handbuilding in the clay studio: 11 August 2019

I’ve been busy in the clay studio. It’s been a learning curve, but I have figured out the technique to transfer designs onto pots.

bees and flower design
shelf with bird and bee designs-ready for the kiln

Now that I know what I’m doing I started a new design for rice paper transfers. The theme is Trees and houses.

positive of the design

Today’s burn didn’t work out like I had hoped, but I have another screen ready, and will try again tomorrow

Using solar power to expose the design onto the screen

now it’s time for a new color: Electric Blue!!

Electric Blue Underglaze…drying to screen print consistency

I love surface decoration. One of my favorite forms is the rectangle or oval. It’s almost like a canvas for a traditional painting. Today I handbuilt a small oval plate.

painting white slip on an oval plate

And I love my critters! Spent some time working on new ones:

clay cat
clay cow
clay dog
another clay dog!

Stay tuned to see the progress!

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Painting/Printing on clay

I love jumping between and mixing mediums. I’ve recently been working in clay–after a long break.

greenware sgraffito pot
A ‘Greenware’ pot – carving done and ready for the kiln

I’ve been decorating with a technique, called sgraffito, where I scratch the design into the pottery before firing.

car filled with redware sgraffito bisque pottery
bisque fired pots-almost finished, just need glaze

Here’s what sgraffito pots look like after the first fire. I love the contrast between the red and white clays.

a screen for screenprinting
Screen for screenprinting-burned by the sun

As a printmaker, I have been curious about printing on pots. With the encouragement of a fellow artist/potter, I tried to print decals to apply to clay. After MUCH experimenting, I learned that relief printing does not give a thick enough layer of glaze, so I am taking my woodcuts and linocuts, and using them to make screens for screen printing

screenprinting in the studio
testing the design

My only experience with photo transfer screen printing was a few years ago, when I took a workshop in Oaxaca, MX with artist, Marcos Lucero. In the workshop, we used the sun to expose the screen. It’s still taking some trial and error, but I am learning how to get a good exposure. Kentucky sun is different from Mexico sun–we have clouds!!

test print of birds in branches
test print-a little bit overexposed

Once I master the screen print part of the process (i love learning new things) It’ll be time for a NEW thing to learn: how to print using glaze, and then transfer the designs to clay.

work in progress painted clay sculptures
Painted clay critters-work in progress

Of course , it’s also possible to PAINT on clay–as long as it isn’t being used for food. These critters are almost finished. I LOVE painting on clay. It reminds me of canvas painting, but the textures and shapes of clay give it a 3rd dimension

glazing pottery
pots being glazed for the final firing

remember those sgraffito pots at the beginning of this post? Last night, i glazed them, and they are in the kiln cooling. We are going to open the kiln this evening, so stay tuned it’ll be exciting to see my first batch of pots…of course, the first batch is usually when I learn a lot of lessons, so hopefully the kiln gods are not too cruel.

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Wallowing in mud

A few weeks ago, a friend gave me a book about transferring images into clay. As a printmaker, and ex potter, i was interested. Shortly after, they sent me ANOTHER book about printing on clay. Aat that point, i decided it was time to dust off my pottery equipment and make some things to try printing on.

The new mud room

I thought it would be fun to hand build some of the characters from my prints and paintings.

Some of my clay critters

I have not thrown any pots, other than for the occasional empty bowls fundraiser, since 2007. And was curious if i remembered how to throw a pot on the wheel.

Future mugs

I did remember!!! Its like riding a bike!!!

Mugs with the bottoms up!
One thing leads to another…more pots!

Stay tuned! I hope to print and transfer some of my woodcuts onto these pots. Should be interesting!

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Playing in Clay

I like switching between different media from time to time. Each media has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, and the change in perspective keeps it interesting for me.

greenware little sheep
my first piece-a little sheep, of course!

It’s been awhile since I’ve worked in clay, so I thought I would try to create some painting/tile type characters in clay. My idea is to paint them once they are fired, so the finished piece will be a hybrid painting/sculpture.

greenware red clay bird and pig
followed by a bird and pig

One thing I love about clay is the textures…of my tools, my fingers, of the clay itself. It should be a really intersting surface to paint!

clay pig greenware folk art sculpture
another pig. i am working on a whole family!

It’s also fun to ‘build’ something, vs, draw/paint. I find myself using both hands when I work in clay.

clay chicken sculpture folk art
chicken

If you are in a creative rut, maybe it’s time to try something different?!? Works for me every time!

clay sheep greenware sculpture folk art
another sheep and bird. i’m starting a farm!

stay tuned for updates!

2 pigs 2 birds a sheep and chicken redware greenware clay sculpture art
2d/3d critters by Ken Swinson
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Guest artist at the Log Cabin Print Shop

I love it when new printmakers visit Old Washington and discover the Log Cabin Print Shop! Yesterday, Andrew Cohen (and family) came from Lexington, KY to print with us!

andrew and assistant inking his linocut

They came at a perfect time, because I was doing some repairs/maintenance on the press, and needed someone to test it out.

andrew cohen and assistant testing the press
Testing the press – it worked!

After some adjustments, we got the press working, and printed an edition of Andrew’s linocut

Success! Press is printing with no slipping!

Thanks again, Andrew, for printing at the Log Cabin Print Shop, and sharing your artwork! I hope you and your crew will be able to visit again soon.

Linocut by Andrew Cohen 8″x15″