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I want to do fairly intricate graphite drawings on clay forms.  Does anyone know at which temperature the graphite can be fired without losing any detail or 'smudges?'  I am not a ceramic artist.  I imagine drawing on top of the bisque fired piece, then doing a light spray matte finish.  Am I wasting my time?  Thanks.

 

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Will the spray can finish move the graphite as its air pressure moves the spray?You will have to test the graphite in a kiln at various temps to learn about it.

Only you can say if you are wasting your time

Edited by Mark C.

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Yes, I have found pencil/graphite burns out in all situations.  I use it to sketch on pots before using more permanent methods.  I too, use underglaze pencils if I want the pencil effect on bisque.  I spray with clear and fire.

Roberta

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18 hours ago, Tomás said:

I want to do fairly intricate graphite drawings on clay forms.  Does anyone know at which temperature the graphite can be fired without losing any detail or 'smudges?'  I am not a ceramic artist.  I imagine drawing on top of the bisque fired piece, then doing a light spray matte finish.  Am I wasting my time?  Thanks.

 
Tomás

My answer is No! you are not wasting your time. 
 
Graphite will burn off in a typical bisque or glaze firing. Wikipedia chatter implies that the graphite ignition temperature is around 800 C.
However, it will not burn off at oven temperatures.  If you fired the substrate to a higher bisque temperature than normal, but still within the porous region, the surface will still be able to capture the graphite marks and the pieces will be stronger. 
If you are satisfied with the strength of the available bisque ware then just draw and then coat.
 
Finished with a thin spray coating of "water glass" (aka sodium silicate) followed by a thorough drying at oven temperatures should produce a non-smudging object. 
 
Try it.  That is the only way you will know for sure.

Your approach is essentially no different than the naked Raku, or horse hair Raku, or pit firing techniques where the marks are made by carbonizing.  You are just skipping the firing smoke and fuss.
 
Congratulations for thinking outside the typical pottery box. 
LT
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Thanks, LT.  I'm primarily a painter (and drawer?)  I have a friend who is really a recognized master of ceramics, but he sometimes has a problem 'getting' what I'm trying to do.  I'm hoping to use some large cylinders on which to draw.  I saw Jim Dine's drawings on ceramic jars years ago and have wanted to do it ever since.  Now I'm old and retired so I can try things like that.  Fortunately my friend will help me in firing and I hope with throwing the jars.  Thank you again.  You really filled in some holes with your information.

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I'll be trying the underglaze pencils, but I don't know if the smudges, fine lines, and darks that I can get with a range of graphite pencils will be satisfactory with the amoco pencils.  Thank you all for your responses!

 

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LT, 

Can you elaborate on what you mean by 'thoroughly drying at oven temperature?"  I am taking that to mean literally the temperature of my kitchen oven.  I understand the rest.... bisque fire first, then draw, then lightly coat (I'll spray) with "water glass."  It sounds like a good solution for what I want.  Of course I'll experiment first.

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@Tomás

If you want an indication of what kind of fine lines you can get from an underglaze pencil, check out an artist named Tom Kemp.  He comes at ceramics from a painting/drawing background as well. I can vouch that underglaze pencils do behave like charcoal. They're not quite as fine as graphite, but you can indeed shade with them. 

Here's a link from his Instagram to a short video of him working. I believe he uses draftsman's methods to keep his pencil sharp. (Eg, a sharp knife and sandpaper)

 

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Expect to spend some time accommodating to drawing on round/cylindrical forms. You might use a "drawing stick" like I've seen painters use to steady their hand without touching and smearing the work. 

And, of course, the surface smoothness will make a difference. 

Edited by Rae Reich

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5 hours ago, Tomás said:

LT, 

Can you elaborate on what you mean by 'thoroughly drying at oven temperature?"  I am taking that to mean literally the temperature of my kitchen oven.  I understand the rest.... bisque fire first, then draw, then lightly coat (I'll spray) with "water glass."  It sounds like a good solution for what I want.  Of course I'll experiment first.

Your take is what I meant.  All you will be doing is drying the sodium silicate thoroughly with some possibility of chemical reactions with the substrate.   

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