Friday, 10 February 2012

From despair to delight....

As you know Sue is the ceramicist, and I am not a technical expert, but I would like to share with you her journey of decorating pots, and our delight at discovering and learning some of the techniques involved with decals or ceramic transfers.  Our lives have been transformed!  

Up until this time last year, Sue had meticulously decorated all of her work using the techniques of sgraffito and inlay.  For those of you, like me, who are not artists, sgraffito simply means scratching into a surface, and inlay is the technique of setting into a surface.  If you know Sue, you will be aware that she absolutely loves doing this.  It appeals to her love of precision and detail and she was happy doing this for 10 hours every day (you wouldn't catch me sticking at anything longer than an hour!).   After the scratching and incising, Sue would drop coloured clay into the surface and scrape it back when dry, to leave the imprinted pattern.

Although these methods created beautiful designs, after 5 years it nearly sent her potty!  Not because of the obsessive nature of the work (we all know that Sue's motivation is fuelled by perfection, and a desire to make each pot better than the one before), but the problems she was having with the transparent glaze catching in the scratched out grooves and causing bubbling.    Yet another box for the seconds cupboard.

Sue always strives for that perfect, silky finish and this was seriously making her bang her head against the wall.....we also had production problems, as unfortunately there is only one of Sue, and however hard she worked, she was only able to make 4 wee boxes in a day.  

Gizmo at work
So at our AGM last January (in attendance: Sue, me and Gizmo the cat taking the minutes!), it was decided to dismiss our preconceived ideas about transfers (Charles and Di mugs), and have a go at using ceramic decals.  

It was a steep learning curve for me, as I volunteered to work out how to get Sue's drawings into digital files and printed with ceramic ink ready for Sue to fire onto the pots.  Without going into detail (sorry, we both have this trait), I have embraced Illustrator and Photoshop and we have a great little production line rolling.  Sue is now able to do curves freely (previously most of her designs were straight lines) and the options for colour are endless!!  

Sue's anemone drawing
Sue still integrates sgraffito and inlay with ceramic transfers, but we now have smooth surfaces, curvy lines and colour!  

Sue's red lampposts drawing
It has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for Sue and she is full of excitement and ideas for the future.  

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