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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.

redware mug with flowers and a dog
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.

Collection of bisque redware pots
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.

screenprinting screen drying in the sun
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

screen printing with ceramic underglaze to make decals
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!!

close up of ceramic decals
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.

clay scuplture of chicken lamb and pig
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

glazed mugs before being fired
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.

clay studio with clay sculptures drying
The new mud room

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

clay work in progress sculptures of a dove, lamb pig and chicken
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.

potters wheel with newly thrown pots around it
Future mugs

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

freshly trimmed redware pots
Mugs with the bottoms up!
work in progress photo of redware mugs with handles
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.

clay sculpture of a 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 sculpture of a pig
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 sculpture of a chicken hen
chicken

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

clay sculpture of a sheep and dove
another sheep and bird. i’m starting a farm!

stay tuned for updates!

collection of clay animals pigs chicken birds sheep
2d/3d critters by Ken Swinson
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Arts Of All Sorts – Old Washington, KY

banner photo with person printmaking and pottery

I made a short video of Old Washington’s recent: Arts of all sorts. The video was LIVE, so it’s a little bit shaky and I did do any editing, but it takes you into the moment of visiting our little village during an art activity. I’m so lucky to be a part of such a creative community. Thanks everyone for making it possible!

If you don’t have the time to watch the whole video, here are a few photos of the video’s highlights.

basket weavers in old washington kentucky
woman making a clay whistle in old washington kentucky
father michael henderson spinning wool in old washington kentucky
barb clarke and ginny b butler volunteering in old washington kentucky
children painting a mural in old washington kentucky
theresa barns leading a felting activity in old washington kentucky
artists painting in old washington kentucky
artists doing body painting in old washington kentucky
woodcarving in old washington Kentucky
tents at washington hall in old washington kentucky
pottery making pottery in old washington kentucky
printmaking at old washington kentucky
linocut of the old washington courthouse being struck by lightning in old washington kentucky
pottery in old washington kentucky
marie kelsch in old washington kentucky
aromatherapy in old washington kentucky
acrylic pour painting in old washington Kentucky
mushroom
maysville mayor david cartmel buying pottery in old washington kentucky