Friday, 22 April 2016

Raku Clay Effect Shells

I have been exploring the simple properties of line, texture and form in the art classroom with students and really enjoyed creating these examples.

Observational studies of shells using mixed media. Collage with pen and ink.


I then started to investigate texture and form using clay. Using a basic thumb-pot / pinch-pot method I produced a likeness of the shells then imprinted texture and used shallow relief techniques. The tools I used were the traditional clay tools alongside old screws, a metal fork and a handle of an old paintbrush.


  
If you do not have access to a kiln you can use air-drying clay or Fimo home-oven bake polymer clay. 

After firing the clay shells I decided not to use a traditional glaze but to layer acrylic paints on the surface. First I used a layer  of black paint ensuring the paint goes deep into the cracks and textural areas. The next step is to wash away the paint using a cloth - it's best to do this quickly before the paint has a chance to dry onto the outer surface.

This leaves the dark paint in the crevices of the clay. I then used a pearlescent paint and a dry brush method and gently brushed the silver paint over the surface of the clay shell.

The final finish is to create a raku effect glaze but without the need for fire-pits and sawdust. The process of what you would need to do to create raku pottery is quite dangerous if you don't have the specialist equipment!

After firing the clay in a traditional kiln, whilst still hot you move them using metal tongs and place the pottery into a metal container that can be sealed. In this container you can use sawdust / dried leaves / dried seaweed which when the hot pottery is placed into the container will ignite and burn. The container is sealed so the fire continues until all the oxygen in the space is exhausted. This process causes chemical reactions that affect the pottery and glazes and produce the most beautiful effects.

Image source: Clayhouse Studios
What do you think? I really enjoyed making them. You could you use them for ring dishes or use them purely for decoration.


12 comments:

  1. Such fun, did your students enjoy this module as much as you?

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    1. Yes, they loved it! They were really proud of their clay shells.

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  2. I like the effect of these a lot! Glad your students enjoyed working on these :)

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  3. Love the shells and they look brilliant

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  4. These are lovely. What an interesting technique the raku is too, I'd never heard of it before.

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  5. Beautiful - I imagine great fun was had by all. #handmademonday

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    1. Yes, it was really fun to make and decorate, Thanks Vicky.

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  6. What lovely shells. I love the way you have made the textures.

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