While I wait for Oliver mold pieces to dry, I’ve been decorating the tiles I glazed for the Flying Hearts Fundraiser. I like Sarah’s term for this better, though. Festoonery. I have been festooning my tiles, which has been great fun. I promised myself that I had enough beads, baubles, ribbons and wire to festoon all three hundred tiles, nevermind my twenty, and that I wouldn’t go out and get more. (I did, but only a few…)
As I mentioned in an earlier post, terra cotta clay has intimidated me for some time now. When I began testing my own tiles in preparation for the project, it didn’t look like I was going to have any better luck this time. By the time the box from Sarah arrived, I had decided that I would just throw caution to the wind. Carefully selecting my glazes and applying them just-so was obviously not working. I decided instead to just grab whatever glaze was handy and see what happened. (It seemed a fitting tribute to the sculpting artist, at least!)
Oddly enough, that did work a lot better. It was also fascinating, because the terra cotta altered the glazes in unexpected ways. My favorite was this one.
The tile to the left is Lynn Fraley’s “In The Ribbons”. It was cast in white earthenware and glazed with my favorite sea-green glaze. The Flying Heart tile to the right has the exact same glaze. The only difference is that it was cast in terra cotta. The oxide in the clay turned the colors to blues and purples.
What isn’t visible in that photo – indeed I haven’t been able to capture it in any photo – is that the high areas where the terra cotta coloring shows through don’t actually look red-brown. They look like copper, including a slight glittery effect. I found that some of my translucent glazes sometimes gave an even more pronounced metal-flake glitter look. Others had pigment that clustered most densely in small dots. What’s more, if I fired the tiles a second time the colors changed again.
It was a lot of fun, but it certainly gave me a new appreciation for just how reliable the underglaze colors really are.