No tricks

Since posting the pictures of Gaudi, I’ve had several people ask what the trick was to the roaning on his coat. Unfortunately there isn’t any real trick – no special tool or technique. The pattern was created using a #11 Xacto blade, or rather dozens of those blades. (I set the blade aside as soon as it begins to dull, and that happens pretty quickly when it is being scraped against ceramic bisque.) The process isn’t really all that different from the etching some use to customize factory finish plastic horses, though potters usually use the term “scraffito”.

So there isn’t really a trick, other than training yourself to maintain a really light touch with the blade. It also helps if you work in small areas for short periods of time. The temptation to rush and the mind’s tendency to create a regimented pattern are the biggest obstacles to achieving a realistic roaning pattern. That means they take a lot longer than it seems they should, but the end result is pretty cool.

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2 Responses to No tricks

  1. Becky Turner July 24, 2009 at 6:38 pm #

    I have just tried this but in a resin painted in oils! I love the look but what Im finding is in the paint after you make the scrape it doesn’t always come off it just stays all bumped up like.. .. ..do you just brush it off? Im not sure Im explaining it right but when I do the little scrape the part I scrape sometimes will bunch up or maybe its the edges of the paint around it? Im using brand new blades like you say… anyone know how to get around that or am I doing something wrong? I love the look though! Im thinking the kind of paint you use because its actually a clay base.. would just come off like dust? Oh excuse any typos.. broke my glasses and Im using cheap drug store ones.. test is still blurry so Im not sure Im getting all the typos.. lol waiting for the new glasses.. argghhh!!! I hate being half blind!
    Rebecca Turner

  2. mel July 25, 2009 at 2:10 am #

    Baecky, I can’t speak to scritching on clay—I’ve only done it a couple of times and haven’t had the underglaze roll up as you’ve described—but it is “dustier” to begin with (although not quite as fragile as pastels). The only time I’ve etched in oil paint, I’d let it dry first for a very long time—months. It didn’t roll up then. Oils stay rubbery for a long time, so I wonder if that could be your problem—dry to the touch, but still off-gassing the medium (linseed oil or alkyd).

    Etching can achieve scrumptious results but requires the patience of three saints!

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