King Decorative items for Home and Gardens Collection,Chiangmai Thailand.
Moulding Ceramic Figurines as an Art and Craft
Ceramics, like many crafts, have been upgraded to a much higher level of appreciation and acceptance. Today, fine ceramic figurines are not only credited to the artistic merit of a master craftsperson, as we have beautiful moulds available with intricate detail, liquid clay (slip) and numerous decorative glazes which produce a professional look when properly applied.
Moulds may be purchased, although some are quite expensive; so for the hobbyist who wishes to produce these lovely pieces it is advisable to enrol in a ceramic class where moulds and firing facilities are available. Silicone is one option for a mould, where silicone rubber material is shaped using compression moulding. Aside from silicone rubber, other mediums can be used for this process and you can choose from several elastomers as your base.
As an alternative one can purchase ceramic shapes called greenware (clay poured from the mould but not fired.) The clay piece is in a very fragile state and while many glazes are specifically designed for this purpose, the shape must be clear glazed and then fired in a kiln; many stockists provide a firing service. Another choice is to apply various coloured glazes to bisque ware (this is when the greenware shape has been fired once.)
Glazes or Stains
There are many varieties of glazes on the market. However, it is most practical to select a brand and stay with that choice so that glaze colours may be intermixed.
The no-fire glazes or stains are suitable when the craftsperson does not have a kiln available and wishes to pursue this craft and so can work on a bisque piece. However, these pieces are purely ornamental and should not be used as domestic ware; pure joy in the creating is the reward.
Slip can be purchased in different ceramic media such stoneware, earthenware and porcelain. They all must always be stirred and sieved to refine it before actually pouring into a mould.
A special studio/workroom is not necessary but make sure your work area is clean, well ventilated and it is advisable to have access to water. Actually one can set up in a kitchen, covering the table or bench top with plastic or paper.
Make sure you hands are free of any grease before you begin to paint your piece. Good advice is to use quality sable, bristle brushes.
First Coat of Paint
With a fine knife, take a small amount of paint from the container and place it on a tile, paint on two even coats allowing drying in between. Using some silk around your finger, rub colour back off any highlights of folds in the clothes of your figurine, allow the residue of colour to remain in the creases. Any flesh tone should be pale and highlights wiped back with a cotton bud. Use a fine sable brush for eyes and detail of lips and eyebrows in the correct glaze colours. Cheek colour is applied with a small piece of sponge in a stippling motion.
Greenware or Bisque
If you have chosen to paint on greenware your piece now needs three even coats of clear glaze, matt or glaze and fired to the required temperature indicated on the glaze container. The other choice of painting on the bisque, using the non-fire glazes, preserved with a matt or gloss sealer either brushed or sprayed on.
Ceramic craft has many facets to it, as with all other forms of art and craft, with numerous selections of techniques and glazes including an expansive field to explore where objects/shapes are concerned.
It is hoped this article encourages one to begin and explore ceramics.