Using Shellac Resist on Pottery

Shellac resist on pottery…

Using shellac, or wax resist is a wonderful but time intensive way to create a relief pattern. I start this process using a piece of pottery that is fully dry. The first step is to draw a design on the porcelain, (porcelain works best because there is no sand or grog in it). Planning drawings and patterns involves thinking about both the positive and negative space. For this particular piece of pottery shown in the video below, I have created a grid, then an abstract leaf pattern. This pattern is ancient, and can be found everywhere from the tiles of Islam, to early American quilts. The positive and negative space on this grid leaf pattern creates an optical illusion. Some of my favorite images of this come from quilts.

Once I have penciled in the imagery I paint over it with wax resist. The wax will burn out in the kiln firing. Some potters use shellac, but I am not fond of the smell. After the wax or shellac is totally dry, (an hour or so), I begin to sponge off the clay around the imagery. This slowly takes away as much or as little clay that you want. I have to be careful at this point not to go through the clay where it is thin! When I want to get into the tiny detailed spots I use an old dental tool and carve away the wax, then wipe that area with the sponge. After a day or so I can then put it in the kiln for the first firing.

The next step is the glazing and the glaze firing. The photo below shows a few finished urns glazed in a clear glaze, which allows for the pure white porcelain to shine through. You can find these on LuciaUrns.com.

shellac resist on pottery, white on white petals urn lucyfagella.com

 

Shellac/Wax Resist Process Video

For those of you how are wondering how does that white on white pattern happen on those tall white urns. Here is a short one minute video so you can see how it’s done.  Enjoy!

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Carved, Etched, Engraved, Incised?

Urn Process Wax Resist method luciapottery.com

How do you do that? Are these carved, etched, engraved, incised? These are the questions I inevitably get asked when people see these urns. The above photo is work in process – where you can see the green wax resist pattern/decoration on the porcelain clay. This method is called shellac resist or water etching. The medium I choose is wax rather than shellac, mainly because I don’t like the odor of the shellac. They both work the same way in terms of resisting the water from my sponge as I rub the surface of the clay (water abraision). So I guess in a sense they are carved, incised, engraved or etched… just put the word water in front of those words. Water incised clay, water etched clay, water carved clay, water engraved clay. Potters just tend to say shellac resist method!

To see these finished urns just go to my urn page here on the website.

Summer Slow Down/ Making New Designs

The older I get the more I realize summer is way to short in New England.  So the past two summers I have taken a break from teaching, and slowed down a bit on production… working only about 6-8 hours a day rather than 10-12 hours a day.  I’ve spent many hours in the garden, on my bike, and just taking time to really see the beauty of nature.  I have focused on renewing my creativity, and took some time to follow through with the ideas that have been accumulating in my sketchbook for the past year or so.

Here are some photos of a new urn form and the process; from drying shellac resist design, then glazed but not yet fired, to the finished fired urns.  These new urn forms should be up on my website in the next few months.

shellac resist drying
shellac resist drying
Glazed but not fired.
Glazed but not fired.

leaf grid urn raindrop urn

 

 

Big Pots, Shellac Resist, and the Flu

Why did I make big pots the first day of the flu?  Well I knew I was only going to get sicker, so while I could, I made ten little pitchers, five large urns for resist work, and three other large urns.  The second day of the flu I made lids, and slept. The third day I trimmed all the pots, and slept.  The fourth day I slept, trimmed lids, joined knobs, and carved urns.  The remaining ten days I’ve slept, carved urns, took photo’s and slept…  and vowed to get a flu shot next year!

Here are some nice shots of the urns in process.  It’s a very long process, between the throwing, trimming, and carving the feet and rim.  Once the pot dries completely liquid wax resist is brushed on to create the floral pattern.  (This process is known as shellac resist or hydro abrasion).  Then comes the long process of rubbing away the clay with a sponge, (which I thought would be a nice sitting down job while not having much energy).  Where there is no resist the clay slowly gets etched away.

willow watching tall urns freshly thrown

Just finished carving_lucy fagella Tall Urns Drying_Lucy Fagella

The carving process_lucy fagella details_lucy fagella Large Urns Drying_lucy fagella

Here is a finished mini version of the large urn… a little keepsake in my son Andrew’s hands. To see more of these and other urns visit my website and or LuciaUrns on etsy.

White on White Petite Keepsake_Lucy Fagella 

If you want to see a nice little video on this method, check out Ron Philbeck  , “Hydro Abrasion”  He explains it very well!  http://youtu.be/d_HHrNdPGIk