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Question about alternative finishes for ceramics & acceptance by ceramic artists


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Some of the replies seem to want to put ceramics into a narrow box.  A question about not properly firing.  Pit fired work and raku leave the item very fragile.  Neither would either of these techniques survive being outside.  Are they then not ceramic?  Does glazing a piece make it ceramic?  What about terra sig. or firing to maturity with no other finish.  Does applying gold leaf to a piece render it no longer ceramic?  Ceramics is a huge field.  That is what makes it so interesting.  You never stop learning when you are involved in ceramics.  Lets just enjoy all there is in this wonderful world of clay.

Lin

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Personally I would qualify a painted ceramic, as a ceramic sculpture, just obviously not utilitarian.  With that said, I personally finish all my work with a glaze, underglaze or oxide stain, and

I remember the days of sculptor professors frowning on a ceramics student in his class.  Even when no clay was involved he didn't think ceramic students belonged in the class.  I was the best student

I spend 3 weeks on a piece and use ceramic decoration.  I also make 20 mugs in a day.  Some are art, some are functional.  A lot never make it out of my studio.  A lot get the end of a hammer.  I've h

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On 3/27/2021 at 4:21 PM, LinR said:

Some of the replies seem to want to put ceramics into a narrow box.  A question about not properly firing.  Pit fired work and raku leave the item very fragile.  Neither would either of these techniques survive being outside.  Are they then not ceramic?  Does glazing a piece make it ceramic?  What about terra sig. or firing to maturity with no other finish.  Does applying gold leaf to a piece render it no longer ceramic?  Ceramics is a huge field.  That is what makes it so interesting.  You never stop learning when you are involved in ceramics.  Lets just enjoy all there is in this wonderful world of clay.

Lin

Thank you so much, you are validating all the things I've been thinking the last few days. Perhaps my question was a catalyst to help potters and other clay sculptors either open their minds a tiny bit or slam them shut permanently. TBH, I really didn't understand the "outdoors" thing at all, most high-end ceramics that people pay a fortune for don't end up outdoors for any reason.  I also thought about the gold leaf situation and was going to bring that up, but by that point I had thrown up my hands and walked away from this for a bit. 

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On 3/27/2021 at 10:00 AM, Rebekah Krieger said:

Not properly firing a clay piece is poor craftsmanship. I may get slammed for making a solid statement (few people are comfortable enough to do so these days)  but under firing a clay body further supports the comments that say  it’s not ceramics. Which actually does tie into the question of alternative cold surfaces being rejected by the ceramic world. 
 
also, I see more contradictions about risk taking. 

Further , to the point of “we have seen what glazes can do” .... all I know is I walk into an art museum and I have hundreds of examples of what paint can do also. 

I am by *no means* an expert, I’m in the thick of learning and I have more failed pots than successful ones at this point. But also not coming into a group with many experts and  arguing why they may be wrong. 
Perhaps the question was asked by you so you could prove your point rather than listen to the answers. 

Don’t take it as an insult on your work. Your pieces look very nice.  

 

 

 

The 2nd firing is only needed if the piece is to be functional and hold water or be handled a little rougher without any caution for breakage.  My work is almost all non-functional, except for some LED tealight pieces that I've made in the past or incense burners. Most of it sits on people's shelves in their homes or display cases. I've got several of them myself and none have experienced any damage to date and I started the process of working this way over 10 years ago.

Does  2nd firing make the piece more sturdy? Of course. I'm not arguing that point at all. Does it make it ceramic? (uh oh, here we go again!) Well, both are ceramics in my book. Yes, my work is slightly more fragile than a twice-fired piece. But I'd bet both would bust into pieces if they hit a concrete floor. :-)  As far as poor craftmanship?  Again, your opinion, not mine.

Simply defending my opinion isn't arguing with experts, it's all basically opinions on this subject anyway. There is no "right" and "wrong" on the subject of cold finishes, only open or closed minds. As of today, more people have chimed in and there are even more opinions here on the subject, many are aligned more with mine.

Uh, and thanks for the compliment?  LOL...

 

ETA: Look up "bisque sculpture" in Google and be amazed at how many examples - both in and out of museums - are there.  I guess they're all poor craftsmen?  ;-) 

As well, the definition for "bisque" which I've seen in many places states it's ceramic.  Just thought I'd add that little tidbit here for your edification since you have stated you are a novice.

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On 3/27/2021 at 2:58 PM, Mark C. said:

I did look at your work and you come from a illustrator /painter background. Meaning paint is the medium whether its canvas-wood clay its not the base material thats important.

I think of your work now more as a  painter now that I looked close.

Look like we both did our art degrees in the 70s

 

 

 

 

I got into sculpting in 2007 when I wanted to represent dimensional structure more for a solo show I had coming up dealing with houses.  That first set were all bisque and all painted. That started my obsession with clay.  I began to make more sculptural pieces with time and, to me, (maybe I'm wrong) they are sculptures, not paintings. I don't always paint the surface, some I did low-fire bisque glazes and stopped at that point.  But if you want to think of me as a painter, that's no problem. As long as anyone is looking at my work, that's half the battle! :-)

Also, I have no degree, I went from high school right into a professional position as an illustrator at the Saturday Evening Post company. It wasn't probably the best start for an artist but I learned so much more practical, work-based knowledge than I would have ever learned at college and did a lot of reading on my own in the evenings to get the aesthetic and history stuff that I was missing out on. As far as group critique, I got an awful lot of that at that first job and the 2nd one ( not to mention outright rejection of work! ) and that will thicken your skin faster than anything.  Stand in front of a publishing house owner and their staff and try to defend your poorly-done illustrations. It's trial by fire.

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Being rejected I feel is a strengthening process. I got rejected a lot from art shows for decades. Just part of the whole process. Never took it personally. Nowadays I do not jury in much as I'm either invited to shows or they always let me (through the jury process) in as I never sweat it. Of course i have not done a New show in over 20 years. could be more like 30 years now If I thought about it.I have the degree but thats never done anything for me other than the knowledge I gained getting it. My focus was 110% ceramics for my 5 collage years and the paper was meaningless.. The knowledge was everything

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On 3/27/2021 at 10:38 PM, neilestrick said:

Yep I like it a lot! 

What was your reason for choosing a cold finish, since that look could be achieved with a fired finish?

Its a paint with ground up copper then sprayed with an acid that gives it a patina. I dont know of a similar process thatll handle cone 10. This is a lamp base that i sprayed with iron oxide and fired. Here is the process from left to right.. fired with iron oxide, copper paint then sprayed.

Resized_20170104_081410.jpeg

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On 3/27/2021 at 3:43 PM, liambesaw said:

Looks awesome, reminds me of an oboe

Actually i got the inspiration from a steam locomotive thats in a park here in Santa Fe. Quite an industrial revolution look with lots of screws and plates and straps... sorta like an oboe!

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2 minutes ago, Russ said:

Actually i got the inspiration from a steam locomotive thats in a park here in Santa Fe. Quite an industrial revolution look with lots of screws and plates and straps... sorta like an oboe!

Oh neat!  Yeah it's fairly steam punky, remind me of some of the old gasworks around seattle. 

Your copper spray thing, there actually is a glaze just like it.  It's called pinnell weathered bronze by Pete pinnell.  It's a copper patina where thick and a rust brown where thinner/over texture.

If you ever get curious about trying to tackle it with glaze in the future.

 

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Interesting discussion here, that I have been following quietly. I find that I am torn between two different views. Historically, seems that pottery made with clay by indigenous individuals often did not have a true glaze, and often were not truly vitrified but used other methods to seal the clay for holding and cooking foods as in the use of fats to seal the clay. At the same time in my own work I have never considered a piece completed unless it was fired at a higher temperature for vitrification, and had some form of oxide or other finish. Many of my more sculptural pieces have had a mixture of bare unglazed area, glazed area, and stained areas. Sometimes the glazed areas would be using oxides or underglazes under and over the glaze for depth of surface. My belief here is if it is made of clay and fired to a high temperature it is Ceramic. Checking a series of dictionaries you will find that the simplest of terms sets the definition.

I remember years ago, a local juried show that I had entered with 3 watercolors was juried by a purist of sorts. My three pieces were rejected in the original jury process because all of them had colored matts on them. These were well matted, framed under museum glass, and well presented. However the purist believed that no prints, watercolors, or drawings should be matted with anything but white matts. To make the whole matter really stinky. .. . when I went to hang the HS art work in a back section of the same gallery area in a gymnasium I saw the juried show crew hang my art work. It seems they had decided that the juror had cut the show back so far that it could not fill the space properly. So the committee running the show pulled work from the reject pile to hang. I bit the bullet at the time and pulled my 3 pieces from the show, following up with a letter to the committee protesting the act of hanging the rejected art, and for selecting a juror in the area that had a reputation for being so opinionated about the way work was presented.

Seems like this discussion borders the same sort of polarization where neither side can find the middle.

 

best,

Pres

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17 hours ago, liambesaw said:

Your copper spray thing, there actually is a glaze just like it.  It's called pinnell weathered bronze by Pete pinnell.  It's a copper patina where thick and a rust brown where thinner/over texture.

If you ever get curious about trying to tackle it with glaze in the future.

 

Unfortunately im one of those cone 10 reduction guys as this is a 6 ox glaze. If i had the time to figure out an appropriate glaze i would but I use the cold process because it is the look im after and I DONT CARE WHAT PURIST CERAMIC DINGALINGS THINK!

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30 minutes ago, Russ said:

Unfortunately im one of those cone 10 reduction guys as this is a 6 ox glaze. If i had the time to figure out an appropriate glaze i would but I use the cold process because it is the look im after and I DONT CARE WHAT PURIST CERAMIC DINGALINGS THINK!

It's a cone 10 glaze, adding lithium drops it to cone 6ish.  But agreed, if you like it, keep it up :)

JUst when I see people say something isn't possible I like to show possible solutions

I'm a ceramics purist, but only with my own stuff, I don't care what other people do, it's their vision

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21 minutes ago, Russ said:

I use the cold process because it is the look im after and I DONT CARE WHAT PURIST CERAMIC DINGALINGS THINK!

Exactly my thinking. 

The end look is everything on non-functional pieces.  Are they potentially fragile?  Yes, and so is glass sculpture, so are many types of sculptural works, even those which are vitrified.  (Check out jennifer mccurdy's work sometime if you want to see things that are far more fragile than mine!) 

There seems to be some here that want to put me in a curmudgeonly camp of not agreeing/arguing with people about "what is ceramic" or "what is acceptable", when my question was basically "what do YOU find acceptable", which means there are no Right or Wrong answers.  But I can't exactly sit back and have people say "you aren't doing it right" or "you aren't using good craftsmanship" or some other silliness like "why did you build that out of clay?" without defending myself a bit. It's hard to hear tone, and most of what I've said has been done so with a good attitude and an open mind, naysayers notwithstanding. 

I was going to bring up the indigenous people's methods here as well yesterday but decided to let it rest. People who throw mugs and pots and other functional wares are used to what they're used to and possibly aren't thinking outside their own realm when it comes to non-functional, sculptural wares. But the two types of work are totally different creatures and have totally different approaches, uses, acceptance and perceptions.

It seems rather silly to think of one of my pieces as having to go under the rigors of a dishwasher-microwave-food-safe vitrified mug when it's simply there to be a piece of art and give a space interest and give someone joy when they add it to their collection and home or office or get it as a gift.

As to paint flaking, chipping, etc...  I use a very thin wash of color and do this in a series of layers that gradually soak into the fired clay, so it's not like the top layer is sitting there waiting to flake off.  Believe me, it doesn't, hasn't and this is on over 140 pieces using this technique. These are pigment heavy professional paints and dyes, not typical craft paint. I've tried to scratch off paint on some of my pieces and it won't come off, it needs to be sanded off fairly deeply. As well, I often use a matte or gloss indoor/outdoor varnish (in some cases a varnish that is used on car engines and can withstand weather as well as 2000º) for additional protection over the paint layer.  In some cases I use a spray-on enamel.  In some cases I use glass paint that is "fired" on in the oven at 400º as an additional layer if some of my colors aren't quite bright enough or the velvet underglazes don't quite color up like I want on the first/only firing. It does a great job and is very permanent.

As to the piece going outdoors... well... I think I've already spoken to that.

Thanks for everyone's input, even those who seemed to be itching for an argument or had an ax to grind.  Life's too short, especially when it comes to a subject as non-confrontational as "cold finish".   Perhaps I stumbled into a hornet's nest and those who are against cold finishes or bisque-fired-only pieces released some pent up angst and are now feeling better.   I come away from this thread smarter than I entered it.  Cheers!

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