Birch work  -Slip resist with sgraffito’d details..

Because porcelain tends to slump when it is so horizontal, I use stoneware in a slump mold. (I’ve found various delightful molds at the junk store.)painted-stoneware-in-slump-molds

As soon as I put the slab in the mold, I cover the surface with white slip.


Because I am working with two different clays- stoneware in the mold and porcelain slip- there is a slightly different shrinkage and I want the two clays to bond as much as possible when they are the wettest.


After the piece gets near leather hard, I tear up a bunch of newspaper strips and wet them and the surface of the tray. Wetting them helps them to stick down to the piece. The “frondy” edges of the torn paper also tend to stick more than a cut edge.

After they are down I apply a contrasting slip- in this case blue-


and after letting it set up until it is no longer shiny but long before it dries, I pull up the strips.


Here it is with all the strips pulled up. 


you can see places where the blue slip “snuck” under the paper- I will either draw over it or carefully scrape it off the white.

After that, I go back in with a drawing stick and define at least one edge of the tree  (thanks to Stephanie M. for that suggestion)and make all those little marks that are so distinctive to birches.


This one (above)  is not even dry-certainly not fired or glazed. 

Glazing- I thought I would try a clear glaze on one

(here it is- some small  piece of the kiln stuck to it)

small-birch-tray-clear-glazeand on another, some soda ash water for a matte finish with possible orange flashing. 

long-birch-tray-shino-waterI have tried quite a few finishes on these trays. 

I’m trying to find something that enhances it by turning the carved lines brown (as opposed to the gray of the clear glaze above) but without changing the white of the birches. I’ve not been completely successful.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Under Celadon- glossy finish…y’know, I think I painted red iron oxide into the lines on this one and wiped it off.

birch-under-celadonUnder shino and wiped off lightly- matte finishbirch-under-shino-wiped-offunder Rutile Blue and (badly?) wiped off- matte finishbirch-under-rutile-blue-wiped-off


This next one below, took too long and I worried too much. This is shino wiped off and then clear painted on. If those two meet, they look awful together, bubbling, etc. NOTE* upper left corner, you can see where the slip did not bond to the stoneware- it can be a problem- and flaked off. Darn!

birch-shino-wiped-off-and-clear-painted-onbut of all the finishes (and this is just a little too matte) this is probably what I was shooting for.