Functional Arts and Crafts- Making a Mirror

Easy as 1-2-3-

First I took a plate of clear picture framing glass and rubbed it down with alcohol to thoroughly remove any grime or oils. The glass’ surface must be  scrupulously clean- if it is not you’ll have issues with  peeling later on.

Then I drew up a little design for some corner ornaments on a post it note. I placed that under each corner and carefully dabbed on a thick coating of contact gilding adhesive. I used Pebeo’s Gedeo Mixtion Relief which comes in an easy-to-use tube with a fine-tip applicator. The adhesive is white when wet but dries clear. Remember you are reverse gilding/silvering- so you will be working in reverse on the inside surface of the soon to be mirror.

After the adhesive dried I cut up a sheet of 23 kt transfer gold leaf. I then carefully pressed the leaf (gold side down) into the adhesive. The parchment backing of the leaf was peeled back leaving the gold thoroughly stuck in place on the ornaments.

After the gilding size has cured for a few days I dusted off the excess gold leaf and sealed up the ornaments with a layer of raw sienna acrylic paint- which gives the overlying layer of gold a richer color and renders the ornaments opaque-

Next I turn the glass into a mirror with some handy-dandy Looking Glass Silver spray paint from Krylon-

The Looking Glass paint is easy to use- just make sure to apply it in multiple thin coats or the mirror with develop a blotchy appearance. Do this outside. Yeah note the weird reflections around the mirror-in-progress above- I did this in the parking lot against my car using a sheet of old plexiglass as a shield- hence the hubcap visible in the upper left.

After the spraypaint has dried (which only takes a few minutes) it needs to be top coated with something to protect it- I find Rust-Oleum’s Matte Clear Enamel works wonderfully. The enamel coating seals up the looking glass coating and it’s matte appearance makes the reflective finish more pronounced and brighter.

After the enamel has cured for a bit the mirror is ready to be framed. I placed this mirror in a cassetta-style frame I made a few years ago. The gilt ornaments beautifully complement this simple but classic molding profile.

A slightly closer view-

The Looking Glass paint gives a softer reflective effect than commercially made mirrors. It also has a slight texture to it (due to the droplets of paint) and with a dark board placed behind it takes on the appearance of an antique mirror.

Porcelain sea forms by MJ seal

They Survived!

My first batch of porcelain “sea forms” survived their first trip through the kiln. These are all completely free form pieces- I wasn’t quite sure what the final object would be and they all have a very organic ( and oceanic) look to them. Next step – glazing.

Porcelain sea forms by MJ seal
A variety of forms that could be bowls, vases, shot glasses and platters.

A porcelain bowl by MJ seal
This shell- like form would make an excellent bowl

Porcelain luminary by MJ seal
I was really wondering if this luminary would make it through the first firing.

 

porcelain leaf shaped christmas tree ornaments

Head Start on the Holidays

I got the first batch of porcelain  holiday ornaments cut out- hopefully they will survive the drying process- with the leaves you never know.

porcelain leaf shaped christmas tree ornaments
This first batch of leaf shaped ornaments will be hanging by the stems- hopefully they will be strong enough when fired to hold together.

porcelain holiday ornaments from the farmhouse atelier
Some retro/modern shapes in this batch of porcelain ornaments

porcelain jewelry pendants from the farmhouse atelier
I went ahead and cut out another batch of jewelry pendants- I have several more glazes I want to experiment with and smaller pieces are good candidates for finishes when you have no idea what the final result will be.

Porcelain Necklace Pendants

So the first batch of experimental necklace pendants is out of the kiln. Most of them turned out different shades of brown- I thought they would come out different colors but whats on the label isn’t necessarily what will come out of the oven. They definitely have a nice earthy look to them- especially with the hemp cord.

porcelain jewelry by MJ Seal
I tried out a number of different glazes on this batch of necklace pendants.

I probably should have written down which glazes were on each pendant. My two favorites were the Salt Buff on White and the Ironstone on White (at least I think that’s what they are)

Set of 3 porcelain tree stump candlesticks with an ironstone finish by MJ Seal

Functional Tree Stumps

So I have a few more glazing experiments to show off- some good some meh-

Set of 3 porcelain tree stump candlesticks with an ironstone finish by MJ Seal
The Ironstone glaze came out beautifully on this set of porcelain candlesticks.

porcelain tree stump relish or change bowl by mj seal
This porcelain stump was originally going to be a shot glass but became a wee bit to large- it would make a good change bowl or relish dish.

porcelain candle stick and shot glass with a salt buff finish by mj seal
The Salt Buff glaze on this candlestick and shot glass isn’t doing much for me- although it could make an interesting finish for jewelry pendants

Full view of a gingko leaf shaped spoon rest by MJ Seal

Do you see any Gold?

So with this Gingko leaf shaped spoon rest I wanted to try glazing with actual gold leaf. It was first coated along the back and sides with Temmoku (a brown/black glaze) the the top was coated with Nutmeg (an orange-brown glaze). I then basically water gilt the top part with 24 kt gold leaf using “magic water” (a glass forming liquid – basically water with a high amount of silica). When it dried I topcoated the gold with a “clear” glaze. The results were not quite what I expected-

a gingko leaf shaped spoon rest with an onyx finish by MJ Seal
This leaf developed a beautiful onyx like finish upon firing.

While the “clear” glaze actually came out very cloudy- and the gold leaf seemed to magically disappear- the final results were actually quite beautiful. The clear glaze developed striations-like you would find in onyx- where the gold leaf had crackled underneath. And in these if you look really closely you can see tiny specks of the gold leaf caught in the clear glaze.

close up view of a gingko leaf shaped spoon rest by MJ Seal
A close up view of a Gingko Leaf Spoon rest with an Onyx finish. If you look closely you can see minute specks of the gold leaf that bubbled up in the crackles of the clear top coat.

an assortment of faux bois candle holders by MJ Seal

Ghost Forest

So my first batch of tree stump porcelain candle sticks are glazed and fired. I chose a warm white glaze that when fired produced this nice matte finish mottled with patches of pearl-gray. I also made a few that would make a nice flower bud vase (or pencil holder) and a few shot glasses. And like most of my sculpted works these are very animated. I have another batch with darker glazes I will be posting photos of soon.

tree stump candlesticks made from porcelain by MJ Seal
A ghost forest of porcelain tree stump shaped candlesticks, shot glasses and mini vases.

a porcelain tree stump mini vase by MJ Seal
A tree stump shaped miniature flower vase. This would also work well as a candlestick or pencil holder

a porcelain tree stump shot glass by MJ Seal
This miniature tree stump would make an excellent shot glass.

an assortment of faux bois candle holders by MJ Seal
They came out looking vaguely like the driftwood tree stumps you see washed up on beaches in the Sea Islands

a batch of white leaf shaped porcelain spoon rests and soap dishes

Experimenting with Glazes for Porcelain

So I finally have the results of my second batch of leaf shaped porcelain spoon rests and soap dishes. With these I tried out a number of different glazes and experimented with layering and application.

porcelain spoon rests
A selection of experimental glazes on porcelain spoon rests by MJ Seal

a batch of white leaf shaped porcelain spoon rests and soap dishes
My favorites from this batch were leaves that I underglazed with Temmoku (a translucent brown/black glaze) and top coated with an opaque warm white glaze.

White Oak Leaf porcelain spoon rest
A White Oak Leaf porcelain spoon rest (also makes a good soap dish)

a detail of a tuliptree leaf shaped soap dish
The Temmoku underglaze bubbles up into the white overglaze creating this beautiful marbled effect

a tuliptree leaf soap dish with an antique bronze finish by MJ Seal
The Saturation Gold glaze didn’t come out of the kiln quite as I expected. At the temperature these pieces were cooked at (2300+) it turned into a rich, dark bronze with splashes of antique gold and iridescent metallic blue

A white oak leaf shaped porcelain spoon rest with a bronzed brown finish by MJ Seal
Another combination of glazes that turned out nicely was applying Temmoku over a thick layer of Nutmeg (a warm orange-brown glaze). It creates a rich bronzed-brown effect.