Functional hand made stoneware pottery with complex metallic glazes available at The Virginia Farmhouse

Fresh Out Of The Kiln- Our Latest Batch of Stoneware Pottery

They Survived! And even better the (somewhat experimental) combinations of glazes I used came out beautifully-Stoneware pottery with metallic glazes available at The Virginia Farmhouse

So for this large batch of pieces I used a dark, red stoneware clay called “Brooklyn Red”. This clay is heavy, groggy and due to the iron oxide content will stain anything it touches (before firing of course). It’s actually the kind of clay used to make red bricks and in is incredibly durable once fired. It is great for hand building pieces as it has minimal shrinkage during drying and and attached parts really hold together.

I also love this clay as it gives you a rich, dark ground to work off of- perfect for the metallic glazes I wanted to use for these pieces-A tuliptree leaf shaped dish and other functional ceramics with metallic glazes hand made by MJ SealI used 2 different combinations of Potter Choice Glazes from Amaco. In group one I applied 2 thick layers of Saturation Gold to the piece. Then I coated that in a blotchy layer of Temmoku (a dark, translucent brown/black glaze) and Saturation Metallic. After those layers dried I applied a little more saturation gold to the edges and rims of each piece for a little pop of gold.A luminary, soap dish and various serving bowls hand made from red stoneware clay by MJ SealDuring firing the glazes melded beautifully. In the areas with a thinner layer of Saturation Gold the glaze developed a dark bronze coloration that flashes iridescent blue when viewed at certain angles. The splotches of Temmoku and Saturation Metallic gave silvery, pewter-like touches and in areas where the Saturation Gold pooled and dripped you can see these patches of rich gold with little coppery flecks.

Soap dish and serving bowls with an ancient bronze like finish available at The Virginia FarmhouseIn the second group (which turned out to be my fav) I applied a couple thin layers of Saturation Metallic glaze over the dried clay body then a splotchy layer of Temmoku with thick blotches of Saturation Gold.Metallic finish on a stoneware leaf made by MJ Seal at The Virginia FarmhouseThis combination of glazes developed a rich and complex black metallic finish with patches of pewter and ancient bronze. On these little dishes I made with torn edges (the clay had started to dry out and had become unmanageable) the finish almost makes them look like shards of a meteorite-Stoneware dish with torn edges and metallic glaze hand made by MJ SealClose up of a meteorite like finish on a ceramic piece hand made by MJ SealIt’s always nice when an experiment turns out even better results than you were expecting!

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.

Finally framed

My first batch of winter landscape studies are finally framed and up on the walls-

“Winter Forest Late Afternoon”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 8″ x 10″. C. 2018-

 

 

For this piece I went with a distressed, dark pine frame I made from raw boards. The texture I gouged into the edges of the moulding compliment the expressive brushstrokes and texture in the paint surface.

“Snowbound Forest at Sunset- 1/15/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 13 1/2″ x 10 1/4”. C. 2018

For this painting I went with a walnut frame that I parcel gilt with composition leaf on the front surface. The bright gilt surface of the frame really makes the golden hues pop in this piece.

A clean, elegant walnut frame joined with keys and parcel gilt with composition leaf.

“Winter Forest at Morning- 1/15/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 8″ x 10”. C. 2018

 

The warm metallic gray of the silver leaf in this frame warms up the highlights in the painting and helps to tone down the blues of the shadow areas.

 

The rich dark brown of this frame helps to warm up this piece and compliment the purplish gray ground. The texture of the olivewood veneer blends in nicely with painterly tree trunks. This is the only frame in this bunch that I did not make myself.

“Winter Forest in a Snowstorm- 1/15/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board. 14″ x 10 1/4”. C. 2018

 

“Snowbound Forest- 1/16/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 10″ x 14 3/4”. C. 2018

 

For this piece I went with a simple, “bump” profile moulding. The grain of the oak plays off the movement of the snow covered trees and winding grape vines. The rich, golden color of the finish cools down up the warm gray hues in the painting.

 

“Snowy Winter Forest- 1/19/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 7″ x 10”. C. 2018

For the last two paintings I went with a very clean museum profile that was painted black and gilt on the top surface with aluminum leaf. The cool silver tones of the aluminum leaf make the cool whites of the painting seem warm by comparison. The depth of the moulding and the contrast between the flat black of the sides of the frame and the gilt front surface really makes these pieces pop off the wall.

 

“Snowy Winter Forest- 1/16/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 10″ x 7”. C. 2018

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.

 

Study of a Fallen Tree

A nature study of a (well rotted) fallen tree encrusted with Blue-green lichen, vibrant green moss and a variety of wild mushrooms-

full view of woodland scene twenty two an original acrylic painting on board by mj seal “Woodland Scene XXII”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 13″ x 11 1/4″. C. 2017

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