Design Technique Using Amaco Velvets with Slip and Slabs

Here's a tip for those of you that use slip, or have dry clay so you can mix up some slip. (And can also be used on clay slabs.) A customer picked this up from Steve Howell at the Las Vegas NCECA conference a couple years back and passed it along to us.

The project uses Amaco Velvets, which are very interesting underglazes. For normal use Velvets may be painted onto greenware or bisque, and either left plain or covered with clear glaze. When left plain they have a velvet like appearance. They are very consistent, and have a broad firing range (from low fire on up to cone 6 or higher for most colors.) I have even seen them used in Raku and they turned out wonderful. With one coat, they are translucent. With three coats they are opaque. You can read more about them here. http://www.bigceramicstore.com/Supplies/Underglaze/AmacoVelvets.htm

Start with a plaster surface. Next, tear up strips of newspaper and lay them down on the plaster in an interesting pattern, leaving parts of the plaster still showing. Pick a Velvet and brush it on over the plaster surface. Then pull up a strip or two of newspaper. Pick another color of velvet and brush on over the newly revealed plaster. Pull up a few more strips of paper, etc. When all the strips of newspaper are removed, pour liquid slip over your velvet design. Let it sit until it dries. Then, carefully transfer the slip to a shallow hump mold. By putting the hump mold on your wheel, you could use some more of the leather hard slip to throw a foot, or you can just handbuild feet.

Let it dry on the hump mold until it is dry enough to support its own weight. Then turn it over to dry. At this point, you will be able to view the design of your velvets that was made with the torn newspaper. It's really cool. Remember in using this technique, that the first color you apply will be the frontmost color and the last will be the backmost color.

You can use an adaptation of this technique on clay slabs (flat slabs such as tiles, or slab that has been draped onto a slump or hump mold). In this case, you will be painting directly onto the clay, rather than onto the plaster. And in this case, the last color you apply will be the topmost color, not the backmost color.

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