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Low-fire bright colors...what am I missing? ARGH!

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SO... I've only been doing ceramics for almost 2 years now all low-fire temps at the moment. I've been suing (mostly) Amoco underglazes as well as my own mixed terra sig.. I'll do the UG or TS on the greenware, fire, go back and wash w/ an oxide for the black/brown in the crevasses after that. Fire again. Now, because the wash was dulling, should I have done another touch up of the surface w/ the UG or TS to keep the colors brighter after the oxide wash and before the 2nd firing or after the 2nd firing and go for a 3rd??  I'm having pretty bad luck w/ multiple firings so far as I have a tabletop kiln and I think it's just cooling too fast (I've been making second and 3rd firings ramp up s-l-o-w-l-y)  so it's cracking pieces. At least, it's cracking earthenware, I haven't done enough stoneware multiple firings to know if that will hold up better. 


I'll attach a few pix of other artists work that are similar to the style/color technique I'm trying to get. I've ben so frustrated Ive been cold painting everything in chalk paints, which actually look nice on ceramics, but are so time consuming and really not what I want to be doing and prefer.

The first is Sarah Saunders I believe and the second is Inna Olshansky. I did write to the latter 4 months ago and I know she got my message but she never returned my query. I don't have good luck in that area despite offering to pay them for their time or buy their work as  a thanks for their help. :(  BTW, I don't make a pest of myself though. I really try not to bug anyone. I know how busy we ALL are.

The 3rd pic is one of my pieces. Mostly cold-paint unfortunately. 


I do have a larger kiln, but I need to have another electrical box installed to service it. :( So the $$$$ has slowed that down. So stuck w/ a small tabletop is where I am.




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The wash will definitely dull things out a bit if you don't get them wiped off really well. Some colors wipe off better than others. In my experience, with Speedball underglazes, black does not wipe off cleanly but brown does. The deep blue stains, but the medium blue doesn't. So you may just need to try other colors and see if they dull things out less.

Are you using white earthenware or terra cotta?

It would be good to see a picture of one of your pieces with underglazes so we can get a better idea of what's happening.

ppony123 likes this

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I attended a Kathleen Raven workshop, her work is mostly low fire red clay with white slip then underglazes over the slips. After the underglazes are fired on she uses Duncan EZ012 Cobalt Jet Black underglaze then wipes it down. The pieces are really coated with the black underglaze, wiped with a damp sponge,  the sponge is rinsed out well after every wipe or two. I tried her technique using the Duncan EZ012 and it really does wipe off better than my usual black Spectrum underglaze.

This is one of Kathleen Raven's pieces


ppony123 and Rae Reich like this

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I"m wiping the wash off as much as it will come off and sometimes it even starts taking the color off beneath it! I know it shouldn't, but I'm firing to a ^04. I don't know what more I can do or what I'm doing wrong. So far, I've tried block copper wash, black iron oxide wash, thinned Amoco LUG and VUG blacks. The oxides have wiped off cleaner than the UGs but barely.  I wipe until no color comes off on the sponge. Though I've used both soft rags and various softness grades of sponges.


I've been using terra cotta colored and white earthenware as well as buff stoneware and I just tried paperclay which amazingly did the best for the technique but I wasn't exactly worried about bright bright color. This guy was my paper-clay and it worked. I didn't need to do any cold-papinting on his body or waves.


I don't have any pieces right now that are in an UG stage or bisque for a wash. But I'll post when I do.

I DEALRLY appreciate the help! 

Edited by ppony123

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8 hours ago, Roberta12 said:

@ppony123Check out Babette Harvey's IG feed.  She does work similar to yours and if I remember right, she posted some photos of her process.  If nothing else, you will love her work.


Thanks, Roberta! What fun and sophistication. I DO like her work.  She gave a GREAT snippet on her process on that site. VERY enlightening. I can't wait to get it a try! <3 THANK YOU!

Edited by ppony123
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