The Making of Your Handmade, Custom, Ceramic Treat Jar,
Keepsake and Sculpture.
1. Example of jar and lid on wheel before trimming
Just about everything in ceramics starts out with
a lump of clay. Where it goes from there is the fun part!
Once we've collaborated on the idea and some of the design elements, I go to work.
1. I typically throw your jar/vessel on the wheel (or create a slab constructed piece) before I start working on the sculpture. Mostly I use a white clay base, but a speckled or red/brown clay is also available. After your piece is thrown on the wheel it is allowed to dry to a point where it can be trimmed to the shape and desired thickness. It's then wrapped and kept damp so that further decoration can be added (like the name, a 'floor' on the lid or any other decorations we've decided upon).
2. Now, its on to the sculpture. Once again, a lump of clay is the starting point.
Below is a short video of the making of a poodle sculpture to give you an idea of the process.
If I'm working on a sculpture of your pet, I make every effort to try to get the best likeness possible. This can take a while. I like to go back, review and tweak my work several times before I consider it done. I know how special these pieces are to my clients and I want them to be my best - always.
When the piece is still wet - in a stage that I can still make changes, I send you a few pictures by email for your input. If there are changes to be made in the claywork, this is the only time I can make them. (In this stage the pictures will only show the clay work, so the pictures will have no color detail and may look a bit distorted due to light and angles, but will provide a good sense how the sculpture will look).
Once you're good with the work so far, I will let it dry (takes 3 days to a week) and when totally dry it is fired for the first time- bisque fired. Bisque firing is the process where it's fired in the kiln to make the clay ready to add glazes (underglaze 'painting' and the finishing glaze of the vessel).
3. The bisque firing results in a piece where all of the moisture is gone and the color is consistant throughout (based on the color of the clay base). It's usually a dry, white surface and can be treated sort of like a 3D canvas for painting. My pieces are 'painted' with a combination of stains and underglaze (color made by combining a clay base with different oxides and elements to create a desired color when fired). This step is tricky in that the color of the underglaze is not the same color as it appears after the piece goes through its final firing. After the staining/underglazing is complete I prepare the piece to be covered in glaze to the desired color- often a warm white. This involves using waxes and other resists depending on the design.
Finally, your piece is glazed by applying liquid glaze to the entire piece. This provides the glass like finish after firing. At this point I add dabs of transparent glossy glaze to the eyes, nose and tongue of your dog. It goes into the kiln for its final firing at a high temperature for stoneware glazes and a few days later...... its 'almost' done.
4. After the glaze firing often small changes are made using various types of ceramic paint or other materials like metallic gold paint, adding the light in the eyes with dots of white paint etc.....and its ready to ship!!
I let you know that its done and if you want, send you pictures..... if not....it can be a surprise.
I pack it really well and ship it, (via least expensive...or your choice) and send you a confirming email, that its been shipped along with the invoice showing the cost of the piece, actual shipping costs and your shipping tracking number. You receive your shipment and that is when payment is generally due. (For some special orders, partial payment may be needed up front.)
Then you have a very special custom made creation.... a unique, handmade tribute to your pet that will last a lifetime.
2. Puddy sculpture -
claywork almost finished
3. Treat Jar decorated with name, stamp, 'floor'
and painted with underglaze after bisque and before glaze is applied for the final firing.
4. Puddy's Treat Jar-
finished after finalfiring