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

 

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

 

What About White on White Pottery?

So I’ve written on my blog about blue pots selling well.  Now I want to talk about white pots not selling well.  This pasta bowl pictured below has sat in my studio for about three years.  It is so subtle… white on white glazing, with hints of pinks and greens… so, so subtle. This and other white on white pots just do not sell for me.  Well, last week I was about to put it on my discontinued shelf and sell it for half the price, but could not bring myself to do it, I just figured it will serve the family better in the kitchen rather than giving it away!

I remember being at a show many years ago with Andy Shaw.  People were just walking past his booth, it was filled with white on white pattern pots.  (If you have never seen Andy’s pots take a look at his website, he does gorgeous work!) Well I suggested to Andy to get some color like an apple or something.  He went to a local store and picked up tomatoes.  He put them in some of the pots, and the next day people were stopping at his booth! What is it about color that draws people right in?

I think maybe white on white requires too much work from the customer.  They have to take the time, come up close, pick up the pot, patiently examine it.  Where as the blue pot, shouts here I am, look at me!  Yet when you bring that white pot home, your food tends to look a lot better than it does in the blue pot.  Sometimes I think the only people who truly understand white on white pottery are chefs, and potters! 

So here is my beautiful white on white bowl, in my kitchen, with my lunch in it!  I’m enjoying it!