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Question about alternative finishes for ceramics & acceptance by ceramic artists


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1 hour ago, GoneFishing said:

I met Jennifer and husband (Tom) actually. (Gave him a dragon mug he kept eyeballing) Very nice folks and I found her to be very practical. Her fired works are pretty sturdy. Lots and lots and lots of sanding. She actually plans for her stuff to artistically slump a bit which takes some judicious propping.  Lots of practice to get the look just right for her.  Pretty sturdy fired pieces. Really pleasant folks for sure.

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3 hours ago, Russ said:

Unfortunately im one of those cone 10 reduction guys as this is a 6 ox glaze.

If you have a cooler spot in your kiln it might be worth giving it a try.  Not that I don't love your cold finish but there's always room for another glaze test.

1425688724_ScreenShot2021-03-30at4_54_21PM.png.06eed6570c77abcfcf4b7889da5744f8.png

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3 hours ago, GoneFishing said:

or some other silliness like "why did you build that out of clay?

My question was a serious one, and I really did want to know what your reasoning was since it wasn't obvious to me why you chose clay, as I explained when I asked it.

 

 

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On 3/21/2021 at 10:23 PM, GoneFishing said:

So, was this just a close-minded group in a small town and the wider world is accepting? Are alternative finishes a big no-no in the ceramic world at large? It really is very enjoyable to me to use these various finishes for so many reasons and I can't help but wonder what the big deal is. 

Anyone care to comment on this?

been following this discussion, and am surprized at the confusing lines of reasoning.  I have no problem with acrylic (or any other hot or cold glaze) surface treatment.  the technique is not a new one.  My recommendation to others is for them to study the art of Kenneth Price before taking a strong stand on whether paint fired clay is OK for ceramic art.  some useful links and quotes to get you started:

**/**   https://kenprice.com/    

**/**   https://matthewmarks.com/search?search=ken price  
**/**   https://matthewmarks.com/exhibitions/ken-price-specimen-rocks-05-2014 

**/**   https://www.claystation.com/artists/ken-price/   

**/**   https://www.christies.com/features/5-minutes-with-Ken-Price-Izzy-8921-1.aspx   

**/**
a quote from: 
    https://oralcancerfoundation.org/people/arts-entertainment/kenneth-price/    
"Price’s use of bright color on clay forms was a distinctive feature of his work. Sometimes he achieved it through the use of acrylic paint rather than fired glazes, a method that upset ceramic purists but satisfied the artist’s determination to follow his interests. The technique has reached new heights since the 1990s. Sexy, bulbous forms are painted black, layered with lush acrylic colors and then sanded to reveal the under-paint in richly textured spots of brilliant hues. ... Some sculptures carry 70 thin coats of paint. Speaking of his early years, Price told interviewer Kristine McKenna in 1996, "In those days everything was supposed to reflect the inherent nature of the materials, and consequently there wasn’t much colored clay sculpture prior to the ’60s. … But I didn’t think it was a big deal to put color on form. L.A. was the city of cars and fabrication shops where you could have anything made, so it didn’t seem unusual to me to make an organic form and then give it an industrial paint job." "


**/**    THE LAST TESTAMENT OF KEN PRICE, By Brian Boucher.  March 5, 2013, https://www.artnews.com/art-in-america/features/the-last-testament-of-ken-price-62970/  quote: (He stopped using glazes in 1983.) 

http://www.artnet.com/artists/kenneth-price/bent-away-a-gSYZ0RCa2o3WnBBQulrJaw2 

https://www.artnet.com/galleries/matthew-marks-gallery/artist-kenneth-price/    

**/**   https://www.bing.com/search?q=kenneth+price+art 
 

LT

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10 hours ago, Magnolia Mud Research said:

been following this discussion, and am surprized at the confusing lines of reasoning.  I have no problem with acrylic (or any other hot or cold glaze) surface treatment.  the technique is not a new one

Not much is new actually or has not been tried / done before.

Paint is fine, it is what it is and has the quality, color, ease of application and durability that it has. The work looks fine and he enjoys it. As far as confusing lines of thinking, I think I said this early on: this to me is a perception thing so as many points made there are equal counterpoints. Neither side is entirely wrong or right to be fair and each likely sees their case clearly in their mind.
Certain points or certain facts will be deemed more relevant  to some than others.  It will be hard to win consensus with a matter of fact approach. Time and winning hearts and minds likely will accomplish more than highlighting a favorite fact or two.

As to acceptance into various exclusive communities or community mindsets, not all will be willing to accept. To me it’s just life and a human condition. Trying to get  everyone  to think a certain way likely ain’t gonna happen.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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Posted (edited)
On 3/30/2021 at 9:18 PM, neilestrick said:

why you chose clay, as I explained when I asked it.

Why don't you build your pieces out of glass or steel or wood?  Put yourself in my place and think for a minute how you would react if someone asked you - someone who has worked in clay for a long time - that? Why did Rodin make his final pieces bronze? Why did Van Gogh use oils instead of tempera? Why does any artist choose their medium of choice? It just seems like an odd question to me for this particular thread about "cold finishes". Given that people were seemingly attacking my choice of cold finishes, it seemed like yet one more odd thing to ask, IMO.

First, it would have been harder (for me) to make it out of anything BUT clay. I don't have wood carving/finishing tools or machines to work metals. Cardboard or fabric would have been too flimsy.  Add to that the fact that I work in clay (as I had for the last 10 years) for most of my 3d works. I was in the middle of creating many pieces for an upcoming show.  Clay is a wonderful, plastic medium that can assume many shapes easily and quickly. And I had about 100 pounds of it available at the time. :D

As I already stated, I liked the challenge. Having those cubes stay in place without sagging (though they did sag a tiny bit) or cracking (which they did not) and then wanted to mimic metal with my finish. Try to build something like this sometime, it's not easy, but I think the piece succeeds. Plus the symbology of the cubes being held from moving by the tiny red sphere.

The piece is called "Women" because of how many systems are held together and would fail without them.

Edited by GoneFishing
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1 hour ago, GoneFishing said:

Why don't you build your pieces out of glass or steel or wood?  Put yourself in my place and think for a minute how you would react if someone asked you - someone who has worked in clay for a long time - that?

I think it would be silly to ask me why I made a specific piece with clay because I am a potter and my techniques and style can't be done with any other material, and I never work with other materials. If you asked me why I choose to work in clay and not other materials, I would be happy to answer that question. Any excuse to talk about my passion for ceramics! But since you do not limit yourself to working only with ceramic materials, I think it's reasonable to ask why you chose close for a piece that did not require you to work in clay in order to achieve the final product. It was not a judgement, simply a question about your process. I apologize if it came out judgy.

1 hour ago, GoneFishing said:

Why did Rodin make his final pieces bronze? Why did Van Gogh use oils instead of tempera? Why does any artist choose their medium of choice?

Why did Rodin make his final pieces in bronze, since he also worked in plaster and clay, drew in charcoal and chalk, and painted in oil? I don't see the problem in asking an artist about their art.

1 hour ago, GoneFishing said:

First, it would have been harder (for me) to make it out of anything BUT clay. I don't have wood carving/finishing tools or machines to work metals. Cardboard or fabric would have been too flimsy.  Add to that the fact that I work in clay (as I had for the last 10 years) for most of my 3d works. I was in the middle of creating many pieces for an upcoming show.  Clay is a wonderful, plastic medium that can assume many shapes easily and quickly. And I had about 100 pounds of it available at the time. :D

As I already stated, I liked the challenge. Having those cubes stay in place without sagging (though they did sag a tiny bit) or cracking (which they did not) and then wanted to mimic metal with my finish. Try to build something like this sometime, it's not easy, but I think the piece succeeds. Plus the symbology of the cubes being held from moving by the tiny red sphere.

This is the type of detailed answer I was hoping to get. An I totally agree, the piece definitely succeeds. I like it very much.

1 hour ago, GoneFishing said:

It just seems like an odd question to me for this particular thread about "cold finishes".

My question was framed in terms of cold finishes (if you're not limiting yourself to using a fired finish, then why limit yourself to using clay). Also, threads tend to drift a bit. If they don't come back around to the topic within a few posts, then we moderators jump in and bring them back onto the subject and/or spin off a new thread.

1 hour ago, GoneFishing said:

Given that people were seemingly attacking my choice of cold finishes

You asked for opinions about cold finishes, and people gave their honest opinions.

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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 require my students to do the same.  I have occasionally kicked around the idea of allowing students to opt for acrylics to paint their more sculptural work, especially those, who I suspect will trash their project as soon as I hand it back (paints are cheaper than glazes/ underglazes), but I've never allowed it other than this past year with some of my students working remotely from home. 

The Elementary and Middle School teacher does just have his students paint their projects, so they don't need to be refired.

My School's Athletic/ Activities Conference has a yearly Art Show.  We actually have three separate Ceramic categories; Ceramics Sculptural, Ceramics Non-Utilitarian, Ceramics Utilitarian. 

The final one is pretty self-explanatory.  They are generally wheel thrown, and are glazed.    Non-Utilitarian could be wheel thrown, but has qualities that make it not actually functional, like pierced or other such open sections.  The Non-Utilitarian works are also generally glazed/ underglazed, but if I recall some may have been painted over the years.  Ceramics Sculptural,  are generally always hand built, and can be decorated with any type of surface decoration; glaze, undergalze, washes, acrylic paint, watercolor, etc.  As I've mentioned, I do not give my students the paint option normally.  Other teachers in the Conference do and have.  For a few years, one of the Schools had a student, who made some excellently sculpted pieces, and used acrylic paint to add illustrative qualities to the surface.  Was it fair that a work like that was compared to those that were using materials that are slightly harder to predict and mistakes harder to correct?  I would say "Yeah".  I also think that those works would have looked even more amazing had those illustrative elements been done with underglaze and a  clear on top. 

Over the years, we teachers in the Conference have discussed just dropping Ceramics to two categories; Utilitarian and Non-Utilitarian.  Every time we discuss it though, we never thought it was fair to compare a well done coil pot that isn't functional, to a representational ceramic sculpture, or a wheel thrown piece.  And so it stays at three categories.

This year, I have a student submitting a mostly slab built sculpture of a wooden fence post, that is underglazed, with an oxide stain on top, then a hand-formed bird that is glazed to emphasize it.  That on its own would place it in the Ceramic Sculptural category (Though it does actually have a removable lid).  But the student added actual rusty barbed wire after firing.  So that moves it to the Mixed-Media 3-D category.  Obviously I have no problem with that. 

We also have a separate sculpture category that is done in any single material *besides* clay. 

Man, we artists like to complicate things.  Probably to keep everyone else from knowing exactly what we do...

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5 hours ago, Benzine said:

I personally finish all my work with a glaze, underglaze or oxide stain, and require my students to do the same. 

It makes total sense to do this in a classroom setting.  You have knowledge about glazes which should be passed down to the students in a ceramics environment where the end result is not going to have as much importance (so lessons can be learned) as studio works by someone making art for a living (and all the freedoms/pitfalls that presents). 

But at some point, students who stick with it after graduation will see that there are alternatives/cold finishes which  - more and more as time goes on - are acceptable by the larger world of art for non-functional works.  It's nice to know that there are other instructors that are allowing cold finishes because that's where the world of 3d ceramic works - in part - has been heading. I see many examples of alternatives on Instagram all the time, from galleries and museums to studio artists.

It's a big world, lots of different things to try. I'm not a huge fan of boxes or rule/limits. B)

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1 hour ago, GoneFishing said:

It's nice to know that there are other instructors that are allowing cold finishes

There have been instructors like this for some time. I recall in my college days there was actually a wider acceptance for students in the ceramic department to work with cold finishes like encaustic than there was for sculpture students to use clay at all. The sculpture department profs took a very dim view of the material, and strongly discouraged the few students who used clay. 

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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 in the class,  I worked hard, met the goals and deadlines I wasn't like the other do nothing students.  I had another professor in printmaking that would only give me a B,  he told me that he didn't think that women were serious students especially ceramic majors so a B was the best I could expect from him.   Their are so many ways  people can hurt you,  brush it off and keep working with the materials you are comfortable with.   I didn't get the impression that anyone was attacking you,  just asking for more information.  Denice

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5 hours ago, GoneFishing said:

It makes total sense to do this in a classroom setting.  You have knowledge about glazes which should be passed down to the students in a ceramics environment

Well, I try.  I tell them we will be using *Underglazes* and explain what they are and how to be used.  Then I tell them about *Glazes* and what they are and how they are to be used. 

Then at some point someone says "Overglaze" and I explain how those are very much a thing, but we don't use them.  I then spend the remainder of the course correcting students, who call glazes, overglazes.  I totally get why BUT still...

4 hours ago, liambesaw said:

When I was in school there was no rules, except wax the bottoms and keep it half an inch or thinner

I tell them nothing close to an inch or thicker.  I don't require the bottoms to be waxed either.  We do low fire, and most "stay put".  They are not allowed to glaze the bottoms, unless permission is given though. 

@Denice to everything you said, I am truly sorry.  It's bad enough to have a poor instructor.  It's even worse, when that instructor treats you poorly, simply because who you are. 

The last class I took in the Art Department in college, was my worst grade (Not failing or anything, just way worse than any of my other grades).  The instructor gave me little to no feedback during the individual class periods, or throughout the Semester.  He gave me comments at Midterms and the final grade.  He really only talked to students, who he had previously had in class.  On the plus side, it didn't give me a good model, for who I *did not* want to be as a teacher!

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When I attended WSU it had the reputation of having one of the best ceramics programs in the US.  Sad part is that is the teachers in the arts program were the worse  of all of my classes.  I had one teacher that didn't want me in her life drawing class because I was older (40), I was a waste of her time.  Another teacher and I got along great until she found out I had taken a throwing class from her current husband.  He was a professor that slept with students.   I did end up proving that a older student wasn't a waste of time.  I had to take oil painting from her,  my first painting was picked for a show.  By the end of the semester she told me I was a talented painter and that I should of majored in painting instead of the lowly art form of ceramics.  I remember discrimination starting when I was in 4th grade because I came from a poor family.   When I was 12 in junior high,   I told a teacher  how I felt,  she told me I could do anything I wanted.   I wouldn't be compared to my slow sisters or my parents  income.   I took off from that point,  my grades got better and I had a ceramic pendant I made hang in the display case.  Even got chosen to have a drawing tour the US in a children's art caravan.  Once you realize that you can do anything you want it won't bother you that much when someone dismisses  you for working with clay.  Denice

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15 hours ago, Denice said:

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.

That seems so odd to me! A lot of sculptors make maquettes (smaller versions of large works) in clay for later scaling up and also many high-paid sculptors work in clay as their primary piece to make plaster (or other) molds from for bronzes at the foundry.  To my way of thinking: Design, balance, structural integrity, texture and (most importantly) thinking in 3d can all be easily learned with clay before attempting to go into something more difficult, expensive or time-consuming like wood or steel.  Many 2d students that I've taught have absolutely no idea how to think in terms of 3d and what the unseen portions of something might or should look like. Clay is a fast, easy way to get them over that hurdle.

I've also taught 2d students to use modeling clay to fashion a miniature of what they were drawing to help them see how it's shadow might look in certain situations. I used that all the time back when in illustration work to make sure my shadows looked correct.

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I find Neil's zeroing in on the "why" to be foundational to the underpinnings of this constructive and interesting thread, which is such a refreshing admixture of tensions & perspectives. I am always asking "why", relative to decisions made . An ex-con mafia wannabe I hung around with in Brooklyn back in the day told me " 'cuz Y is a crooked letter".  While "only" an uneducated jail house philosopher, he was dead serious and went on to expand & explore themes that emerge in response to any given "why".  I've gotten a lot of mileage from that convo over the years! A tad more sophisticated than the terribly succinct "It is what it is.",  each distillation seems, to  me, to simply ponder what the heck is it--is it art or is it craft or is it derivative or is it authentic, is it this, or is it that? Fascinating how we discern to what degree it matters and which container we should properly assign to it's keep.

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7 minutes ago, GoneFishing said:

That seems so odd to me!

Try being a 30-40 YO female in a university art school sculpture class back in the good old days! It was brutal. My history is much like Denise's and I had to fight like a tiger to make a place for myself-didn't matter if it was commercial art/graphic design, sculpture, ceramics, wood, glass-whatever. We were derided and dismissed routinely. Today universities get sued for such blatant discrimination but it was different  when women such as Judy Chicago or Jenny Holzer were only just emerging to challenge the good 'ole boys.

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I had a new sculptor professor,  I was told that the one who just retired didn't tolerate clay students in his classes.  He would find some way to get rid of them.    The printmaking teacher  I had met before,  I went to apply for a  four year scholarship that had just become available.   I went to get the forms from his office,  he told me not to bother.   He was one of the judges and he wouldn't ever give it to a woman.  WOMEN aren't serious artist.    Denice

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In my undergrad and grad school art programs, clay was never part of the sculpture curriculum. I think there were several reasons:

1. There was already a ceramics program, and there were opportunities to do sculptural work there.

2. The sculpture departments did not have their own kilns, glazes, raw materials, etc. Clay work takes up a lot of space and requires a lot of materials and equipment (which already existed in the ceramics department).

3. The sculpture teachers were not knowledgable about working with clay, at least not enough to teach it. They worked in metals, plaster, wood, etc.

4. They could not dedicate enough time to clay work to deal with all the technical aspects that clay required. In basic sculpture classes in undergrad they only spent a week or so on each project, each with a different material. In advanced sculpture classes they were more geared toward specific  materials, like a metals/welding class, woodworking class, etc, or open studio in which the student could use whatever they wanted. If they wanted to do ceramic sculpture, that was not a problem.

It didn't seem like they were anti-clay or anything like that, it's just that we already had a big ceramics program and it was redundant to also teach in sculpture, especially when there was a myriad of other materials to work with.

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The sculpture department at my school was immediately adjacent to the ceramics department, and there was one sculpture faculty member (along with a few from the painting and drawing departments) who made his open scorn of craft in general and ceramics in particular well known. I remember one sculpture student in my year who spent a great deal of time and effort coil building 5’ tall sculptures of a couple of pop culture figures. He did successfully bisque them, and finished them with acrylics. He had is head handed to him in his department final crit. He fared a great deal better in the ceramic class he did it in.

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  • 1 month later...

There are a few inaccuracies with her descriptions of ceramics and ceramic processes, but the focus is which paints to use for the best results on bisque, so it's not really an issue. For someone looking to paint on bisque it would be a very helpful article.

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