Friday, April 10, 2009

Applying Fresh Paperclay onto Bisqued Surfaces.

I decided I wanted this pagoda design on the current sculpture set I'm working on, but the pieces have already been bisqued. The base clay is Bmix and sand, and I've applied a white slip over it in the green stage.

Tracing of pagoda design onto bisqued piece with graphite paper.

Originally, I was thinking of doing a wax resist or a stencil treatment with the design. I opted for the dimensional effect I was able to achieve with my "Take Out Tea" sculpture.

The paperclay slip I use is the Southern Ice Porcelain paperclay. The slip is consistency of heavy cream and blended well to remove lumps. I use a squeeze bottle with a small nozzle - the ones you use to do slip trailing. The design is first transfered on to the bisqued piece and the slip trailing is done free hand. Successive coats are built up to achieve the desired raised effect. Since slip is mostly water, it takes several coats to accomplish this.

What I found is that if my slip is too thick, the edges then to curl and peel from the bisqued surface. Wetting it down with a fine mist from a spray bottle helps. What works better is thinning out the paperclay slip till it's about skim milk consistency and then brushing over the design with a small brush. This thin slip still contains the paper fibers in suspension and this helps to "hold" your relief design in place. Both bisqued piece and the fresh dry slip being very "thirsty" sucks the moisture out of this this watery slip extremely fast. So far, my design has not exhibited curling or peeling at the edges.

After several applications of fresh slip. You can still see the tracing of the pagoda under the slip.

The next stage is to test this application by re-firing the piece at bisque temp and see if this holds.

After the bisque firing,  my added on design held and bonded with the base layer, showing no signs of cracking or lifting off. This is very encouraging! 

After the bisque firing, the graphite tracing burns off. The freshly applied paperclay slip is bonded onto the piece.


L'Officina said...

Great idea!
Dear Anthony, I have a question for you. I already use paperclay and I bisque with an electric kiln. I once read that firing paper clay in an electric kiln can damage the elements due to the carbonaceous content i.e. paper. Then, what do you think about this problem?

Anthony Foo said...

Hello L'Officina,

Thank you for your question. Here are some links I found regarding your question.

Jerry has another good blog on paperclay

Especially for an electric kiln, the general rule is to keep the lid slightly open for all the paper to burn out. Paper burns around 400 degrees F. There will be some smoke and smell, so be sure you have lots of ventiallation. After the paper is burnt out, you can close the lid and resume heating up to the bisque temp.

Both blogs leads above have very good info about firing paperclay in an electric kiln. There is a lot of info out there on the net.

The big kilns that we use for bisque firing at the Irvine Fine Arts Centers are gas kilns.

Hope this helps

Beverly Turner said...

What a beautiful piece. I love the 3-D effect of the drawing. I can't wait until I have time to try out your new "invention".
Thank you for blazing an exciting trail!
- Beverly

Anthony Foo said...

Hi Beverly,
I'm looking forward to finishing my set. Will post the picture here once it's completed.

Dallas said...

this is so timely.. as i am making
tiles for a niche behind sculptures i made all from paperclay.. and i thought of doing this with an empty mustard bottle.. so .. we are on the same wavelength.. and you are a wonderful person to post these ideas!!! ;-D thank you.


Anthony Foo said...

Hello Dallas,

You are most welcome. I find the most fun about paperclay is experimenting and pushing the limits of what this clay can do for you.

Hope you find the info helpful.

I teach ceramics at the Irvine Fine Arts Center, Irvine, CA so this is also helpful to my students.