Big Ceramic Store Blog
  • BCS customer Lisa Harnish shares her amazing techniques and recipes for "Sgraffito in Terra Sigillata" in today's post! Visit Lisa's website for more!

    Lisa Harnish first began working with clay in January 2002. Her initial education in ceramics began at Chandler Gilbert Community College, and continues to this day. Lisa’s sgraffito designs take their inspiration from nature, such as grass, leaves, seaweed and vines that wind their way around and across the vessel. 

    What is Terra Sigillata -

    Terra Sigillata is Latin for “sealed earth”. Its usage dates back to ancient Roman times. It was developed as a method of sealing the surface of pottery forms, and for decoration (red and black slip). In today’s ceramics, Terra Sigillata is a generic term for a thin slip made by separating the tiniest, finest particles of clay from the larger particles. Often called “Terra Sig” or even just “Sig” for short, it can be made from almost any clay body.

    Lisa’s Terra Sigillata (adapted from Matt Metz)

    • 4,000 grams dry Grolleg clay
    • 2 gallons distilled water
    • 40 grams Calgon

    calgon

    • Mixing Instructions: Empty water into a clean, 5-gallon bucket. Measure Calgon, add to bucket,  mix to dissolve. Add Grolleg clay in 500 gram batches, mixing after each addition. Set mixture aside to settle for at least 2 days. Use a turkey baster to siphon off the middle layer in small batches as needed. Leave the water layer on top, to keep it from drying out prematurely. The sig should be the consistency of whole milk.

    Coloring Terra Sigillata

    Because I’m trying to keep contamination of the sig to a minimum, I prefer to use metallic oxides (or carbonates), rather than stains, the only exception to this is for the satin black, I use Mason Stain Black 6600.

    colorants
    Applying Terra Sigillata

    I've found it difficult to apply terra sigillata to wet or leather hard clay. It seems to not want to “stick”, let alone build up a solidly colored surface, however; bone dry greenware is very absorbent, and will accept the terra sig quite readily.

    Sanding the greenware with a coarse grit sand paper (60 grit or lower) raises a “tooth” to the surface, a faint texture that will act like a sponge to soak up the terra sig, ensuring a good fit. Neglecting this step has often resulted in sintering, where the sig layer tries to peel away from the clay surface during firing.

    • Sanding generates a lot of dust, which can be hazardous to breathe in. Wear a properly fitted respirator when sanding greenware, in a well ventilated area (i.e., outside).

    I use soft "fan" style brushes, or even inexpensive house paint brushes. I do make a point of keeping the brushes separated by the colorant used to prevent contamination. For instance, Red Iron Oxide is only used in Red Iron Oxide sig.

    Join us next week for Part 2 where we will go a little more in depth on using the Terra Sig,  burnishing, sgraffito, and glazing!

    If you'd like to share your ideas for our blog, email us at bcscommunity@bigceramicstore.com!

  • Every once in a while, I like to put my painting skills to use and increase the challenge level for myself. Ok, so my forte' is not painting, but I do know my way around mixing underglazes and a few simple brush strokes.

    How are your painting skills? Not so good you say? No worries, we'll go over a few simple techniques that will help you out. From mixing colors, to brushes and brush strokes, you will get a little more comfortable with trying it out.

    Grab your coffee, and follow me to the studio!

  • We reached out to our customers and ask them to show us their work, and we have discovered some amazing talent!

    Here you have it... another display of AWESOMENESS!

    Jenny Schultz Jenny Schultz

    Laura Kolinski Laura Kolinski

    David Woodin David Woodin

    Candace Hibbard Lillie Candace Hibbard Lillie

    Camille Hoffman Camille Hoffman

    Linda Finley Linda Finley

    Joanie Berkwitz Joanie Berkwitz

    Rowena Murray Coombes Rowena Murray Coombes

    Regina Forsythe-Tobin Regina Forsythe-Tobin

    Paul Blejwas Paul Blejwas

    Did you see our post on 4/27/16? We featured Lifelike Ceramic Handbags With BCS Customer JD Moore!

    Don't forget... we will be featuring more of our customers' work, the products and techniques they used, and maybe even step-by-step instructions in future posts, so keep an eye out for them!

    Do you want to submit your work, or possibly write an article for our blog? Shoot us an email at bcscommunity@bigceramicstore.com.

  • Are you always on the lookout for something simple to teach the kids? We've done some pretty neat ones here on our blog, but I think you will rate this one right up top! Very few supplies are needed, they are super cute, and each one will be different.

    Not looking for a kids project? No worries... these little beauties make the perfect birthday, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day and Thank You gifts! Personalize them and/or fill them with candy, jewelry or a gift card, and you will make someone very happy!

    This project is not only super easy, it's really fun! A simple pinch pot, topped off with a coil, and you've got a really cool  cupcake. But here's the best part... it opens up into a trinket box!

    Let's head out to the studio so we can give it a try!

  • Here on our blog, we like to give you tips/tricks and project ideas... today is no different. This post will show you a simple technique that can be used for the bigger, more challenging projects!

    There are so many ways to alter a pottery piece, but darting... well, it has got to be one of the easiest and ingenious ways. Who would have thought a simple cylinder with a dart or two could become a unique and fascinating work of art.

    I love the idea of squaring off a rounded plate or cup, or creating a neck on a cylinder by adding a couple darts. Since hand-building is my preferred method of pottery, darts have become an invaluable little secret.

    Are you ready to convert that simple cylinder into something really cool? Well grab your coffee and follow me to the studio!

    • 23 Pottery Tips from A Year of Reading Pottery Blogs - Pottery Making Info | http://www.potterymakinginfo.com/news/23-pottery-tips-reading-pottery-blogs/

      […] Darts For Aesthetics […]

    • Verbinnen helga | #

      Verry good explaning. I hope i can folow the site from belgium. Thanks

  • Have you been following along with our Monday posts featuring work created by our customers? If not, you don't know what you are missing!

    Here is the next group of amazing work in the series... Hope you enjoy them!

     

    Brenda Greenwood Brenda Greenwood

     

    Carol Meckling Carol Meckling

     

    Deb Babcock Deb Babcock

     

    George Mahalo George Mahalo

     

    James Schaefer James Schaefer

     

    Jerry Peters Jerry Peters

     

    Kay Bevan Kay Bevan

     

    Kris Craven Kris Craven

     

    Lena Lee Lena Lee

     

    Rex Halterman Rex Halterman

    Did you see our post on 4/27/16? We featured Lifelike Ceramic Handbags With BCS Customer JD Moore!

    Don't forget... we will be featuring more of our customers' work, the products and techniques they used, and maybe even step-by-step instructions in future posts, so keep an eye out for them!

    Do you want to submit your work, or possibly write an article for our blog? Shoot us an email at bcscommunity@bigceramicstore.com.

  • One of the most important things to know about your pottery tools is how to keep them sharp and at the ready. Dull tools produce poor results, while sharp tools can be the difference between an ordinary pot and a masterpiece!

    If you're anything like me, I forget how often I've used a particular tool, and don't think to sharpen it until it is producing uneven and rough results. So how do you clean up the results? Simple, take your tools to a professional for sharpening, or learn how to sharpen them yourself.

    In today's post, we will go over a few ways to sharpen your pottery tools. Although we encourage you to give it a try... we don't recommend trying this on your most expensive tools first, start with the cheapo's in your toolbox.

    • 23 Pottery Tips from A Year of Reading Pottery Blogs - Pottery Making Info | http://www.potterymakinginfo.com/news/23-pottery-tips-reading-pottery-blogs/

      […] How To Sharpen Ribbon-Trim-Sculpting Tools […]

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  • I used to use wax resist to protect certain areas while I was glazing, but that required an extra firing to burn off the resist before I could put the final glaze coat on. Not too long ago however, I discovered liquid latex, and I'm quickly falling in love!

    I don't just use it for my pottery projects, but for a slew of other things as well... especially painting my granddaughters nails.

    Check out some of the ways you can use liquid latex to enhance your pieces. I will warn you though... you may just find yourself using it on projects not related to pottery!

  • Another awesome display of pictures from our customers! Check out the colors, techniques and talent in this group!

     

    Steven Walker Steven Walker

     

    Jenna Gossett Jenna Gossett

     

    Elizabeth Clark Elizabeth Clark

     

    Valentina Vega Valentina Vega

     

    Helaine Schneider Helaine Schneider

     

    Ai Yamamoto Ai Yamamoto

     

    Steven Lieberman Steven Lieberman

     

    Nicole Mcbride Nicole Mcbride

     

    Stewart Campbell Stewart Campbell

     

    Cindy Clarke Cindy Clarke

    Did you see our post on 4/27/16? We featured Lifelike Ceramic Handbags With BCS Customer JD Moore!

    Don't forget... we will be featuring more of our customers' work, the products and techniques they used, and maybe even step-by-step instructions in future posts, so keep an eye out for them!

    Do you want to submit your work, or possibly write an article for our blog? Shoot us an email at bcscommunity@bigceramicstore.com.

  • Have you ever wanted to make a tall or really wide piece, but your clay gets too flimsy and the piece falls apart? Well, in today's post, I'm going to show you how to add slabs to a thrown base and top to make a tall jug.

    Whoever invented this method was a genius! I've had several requests over the last few years for large jugs however; I don't throw large pieces often so I find it a bit challenging. I discovered this method a while back, and have used it a couple times.

    Are you ready to be amazed at how simple a 16" jug can be? Well, grab your coffee and apron and let's get to the studio!

    • Lynn | #

      I can't for the life of me figure why you would show pictures of all the separate pieces and not show us a pic of the finished project so we can see what you were going for. It's an interesting concept, but I am always disappointed in a blog, video, etc that does not show finished product. You wonder if it didn't work out well in actual practice.

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