Back in the game

So after a couple months hiatus I managed to have a very productive weekend of sculpting-

Luminaries, vases and napkin holders made from a light brown stoneware clay

In this batch I have made a variety of kitchen implements and vessels with a new stoneware clay that should come out a dark beige color. *If* they survive I’m thinking I’ll coat them with a distressed layer of warm white glaze and over top that with a clear layer which should give the appearance of antique ironstone pottery.

Two spoon rests and a soap dish.

This pieces in this collection, like most of my work, has a very organic look to it. The spoon rests and napkin holders look vaguely like seashells.

The napkin holders remind me of ancient brachiopod fossils.

My favorites from this batch are the luminaries which resemble primitive sea sponges-

A trio of very organic looking luminaries.

I really hope the luminaries survive as they were very time consuming to make. Each little hole in them is a potential starting point for cracks. With any luck these pieces will survive the slow drying process over the next couple weeks and then it will be time to glaze them.

 

Experimental Forms

I had a few scraps of stoneware clay so I decided to try sculpting out some physical forms of the vague shapes that had been floating around in my mind-

Macaroni vase A potential macaroni vase[/caption]

I had seen a macaroni vase in a recent issue of Better Homes and Gardens and decided I would try to make one using a flat slab of clay instead of a a wheel-since I do not have a throwing wheel. I rolled out some leftover clay, cut an hourglass shape out and rolled it up. Then turned up the openings and molded the lips a little.

Two incense holders and a strange cornucopia shaped dish Two incense holders and a strange cornucopia shaped dish[/caption]

I really hope the vaguely cornucopia shaped dish survives- it brings to mind some of the fossils I’ve found of primitive sea life.

IMG_5303 A slightly different view-

Ceramic Napkin Holders

Fresh out of the kiln- a batch of very organic-looking napkin holders made from porcelain and stoneware clay:

Stoneware Napkin Holder by MJ Seal with Chartreuse Finish 01 The bright acid-green coloration of the Chartreuse Finish is not exaggerated.

Stoneware Napkin Holder by MJ Seal with Celadon Green Finish 01 The shapes of these napkin holders reminds me of coralline algae. I love how the Celadon Green glaze on this piece turned out.

Napkin Holders by MJ Seal The green and blue coloration of these pieces mesh well with their leafy, coral-like forms.

Reverse Painting on Glass

Here’s a quick step by step of one of my latest decorative projects-

Beach Window Painting step 1 An old (possibly 100 year old) window salvaged from a neighbors renovation project.

Step 1- Start with a clean piece of glass. Any glass will work for reverse painting as long as it is THOROUGHLY clean- if there is any grime or grease on it the paint will eventually peel off (if it sticks at all). I used an antique window and spent almost an hour scrubbing all the peeling paint and crud off of it. As a final “rinse” I wiped each pane with rubbing alcohol. If your using old windows you may want to wear gloves and a mask to prevent exposure to lead paint (which I am sure was what this window was plastered with). You may want to wear gloves while you are painting to avoid getting fingerprints on the glass- since the oils on your skin will interfere with the paints adhesion to the glass.

Beach Window Painting step 2 A cartoon has been placed face up on the side of the glass that will be painted on.

Step 2- Do a little planning. Since you will painting front to back (in reverse) on the underside of the glass you may want to do a quick mock-up. I drew up a cartoon on tracing paper, cut that up and placed a section in each pane on the back side of the glass. Then I traced the cartoon onto the front side with a marker. Note that each pane of glass has a different hue (the top center piece is almost rose tinted) and probably came from a different source.

Beach Window Painting step 3 The outlines have been painted in on the underside of the glass.

Step 3- Paint in your foreground. In reverse painting you are working from front to back as opposed to the usual back to front. In my work there isn’t necessarily a foreground as much as heavy, cartoonish outlines- so I started with that. I then scrubbed off the marker I used to trace the cartoon onto the front side of the glass to avoid confusion later on.

Beach Window Painting step 4 The highlights have been painted in.

Beach Window Painting step 5 The “mid-ground” is complete.

Step 4- Paint in the mid-ground. With this piece the mid-ground ended up being the highlights, sand and vegetation. Notice how the tint of the glass influences the color of the paint underneath especially in the top center pane. If you use even lightly tinted stained glass it can have a dramatic effect on your painting.

Beach Window Painting step 6 With the sea and sky painted in this piece is essentially complete.

Step 5- Apply the finishing touches. Finish with the background- in this case the flat, bright, cerulean blue of the sky. It is possible to do blending in reverse painting-like I did with the turquoise and dark blue of the sea. I used acrylics so I just had to work very quickly. If you use oils (or Open acrylics) it’s easier to blend but the paint takes a lot longer to dry. Once painting is complete I would let it cure for at least a week (with acrylics) before sealing it up with varnish or top coats. If you are using oils you will need to let it cure for a long time. For this piece I am going to coat the back with a white enamel to block light from coming through and make it completely opaque. Then it will be varnished and waxed to protect the painting.

Woodland Scene IV

Rays of sunlight pierce the cooling shade of a group of maples growing on a moss covered stone outcrop in this painting from memory-

full view of woodland scene four an original painting on board by mj seal
“Woodland Scene IV”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 14″ x 11″. C. 2017

Memory of trees

Channeling memories of sun-dappled forest floors on summer afternoons in this very spontaneous painting-

full view of woodland scene one an original painting on board by mj seal
“Woodland Scene I”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 10″ x 8″. C. 2017

I started out with a mat board coated in black gesso that rapidly grew into this very impressionistic landscape. I find working on dark backgrounds can really help with building up depth- plus you don’t have this bright background glaring at you with it’s whiteness. Note the heavy brushstrokes built up from working wet in wet-especially in the highlights.

A very productive weekend

It’s been a very productive weekend and now I have a large batch of spoon rests, soap dishes, platters and bowls on the drying shelf-

fresh-batch-of-porcelain-spoon-rests-and-platters-by-mj-seal
Some very organic, free form porcelain wares.

All of these pieces were made from “reconstituted” porcelain clay that were part of previous sculptures that split during the drying process. I will be drying them very gradually and I’m  keeping my fingers crossed that they will survive.

potential-leafy-platters-made-from-porcelain-by-mj-seal
Two potential leafy platters.
white-oak-leaf-spoon-rests-by-mj-seal
A pair of White Oak leaf spoon rests.
potential-seashell-bowl-by-mj-seal
A seashell bowl

Testing out a new stoneware clay

Since I have been having some issues with the porcelain clay splitting during the drying process I decided to try out a stoneware clay. This stoneware clay is similar to porcelain but contains “grog” -a prefired material ( in this case a fine sand) that will not shrink during drying and renders the clay less prone to splitting and cracking. It seems to dry a little grayer in color than the porcelain clay but other than that it has very similar working properties-

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The items in this set all have a soft square or rectangular profile and I’m envisioning them with a white marble finish
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A cheeseboard

 

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A set of four potential tumblers
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Three relish/ dipping bowls with a soft square shaped profile

Sea Forms

My first batch of experimental sea forms turned out beautifully-

porcelain sea form luminary by mj seal
For this porcelain luminary I applied a layer of Nutmeg Glaze to the outside and then top-coated that with several layers of white- they melded beautifully. In the interior a applied several layers a translucent burgundy glaze and then applied a layer of clear along the edges which created a very smooth transition.

These free-form sculptures took on a variety of oceanic forms- Seashell  shaped  soap dishes, primitive sea sponge like goblets and vases and leafy, algae like platters and luminaries. With the glazes I experimented with mottled, oyster shell finishes and smooth transitions from areas of clear glaze into patches of intense color.

seashell soap dish made from porcelain by mj seal
For this seashell-like soap dish i glazed the interior with a shell-pink Peach glaze, and then top-coated that along the “lip” with layers of Satin Clear glazes- than transition came out perfectly. Note the slight ridge on the bottom to keep the soap from sticking.
sea sponge shaped goblet made from porcelain by mj seal
On this little shot glass/ mini vase I created a mottled oyster shell-like finish with a combination of Temmoku and Satin White glazes. on the interior I applied several layers of Lavender. The shape of this miniature goblet reminds me of some primitive sea sponge.
porcelain sea form luminary by mj seal
With this leafy luminary I applied layers of Satin White glazes over a layer of Nutmeg- which created a sea shell like finish on the outside. The interior was coated with an intense, translucent coral glaze.
turquoise porcelain platter by mj seal
On this platter I applied Nutmeg and Temmoku Glazes along the sides and edges of the top and then I applied several layers of Turquoise to the top/inside. The final effect look like the aerial view of some tropical lagoon.
porcelain sea form business card holder by mj seal
On this business card holder I applied an opaque white glaze over splotches of Temmoku on the outside for a mottled oyster shell effect. on the inside I painted several layers of turquoise and top-coated the edges with a Clear Satin glaze.

Porcelain Leaves

Another batch of leaf-shaped porcelain spoon rests and soap dishes are glazed and out of the kiln-

porcelain leaf shaped soap dishes and spoon rests by mj seal
On this batch of leaves I applied two layers of Nutmeg to the backs and sides; three layers of Yellow glaze to the top surfaces and a thin layer of Temmoku to the back, sides and top edges. The result was this interesting cheesecake like finish.
porcelain sassafras leaf shaped soap dish by mj seal
I coated the back and sides of this Sassafras leaf shaped dish with two layers of Nutmeg glaze. On the top surface I applied three layers of Seaweed. Then a applied a thin glaze of Temmoku along the top edges, sides and back. The final result was strangely retro and psychedelic.
red oak leaf spoon rest made from porcelain by mj seal
The coral red glaze on this Red Oak leaf shaped soap dish came out very intense. The effect is nice especially along the edges where I applied a bit of Temmoku- but could use a little tweaking.
porcelain chestnut oak leaf spoon rest by mj seal
On this Chestnut Oak leaf shaped spoon rest I applied a this glaze of Temmoku over two layers of nutmeg- which created this rich, bronzed brown finish.