This is my newest tile design and it tells quite a tale. Pour yourself a cup and I'll tell you...
|And so it begins.|
Here is my new Three Muses tile - the original sketch and the first copy pressed from my mold. It was a long time getting to this state... designing, sculpting, casting in plaster, curing. I was thrilled to have it in my hands. Definitely my most complex tile to date - especially since I do not often do (human) figures.
I have Lesley and Caroline to thank for the inspiration. In a truly "Scenius" way, a conversation we three had started all this. We were discussing felting, and wool, and curly locks, and gabbing a bit as you do. Someone, Lesley I think, names the thread Three Wise Women. A little cheeky, and a little accurate as we were each other's go-to for feedback and advice.
I swear this image popped into my head fully formed.
|Please note: thumb for scale! All you are about to see takes place in a tile maybe 6 x 7".|
And then it went further. Three wise women. Three Graces of Classical myth, three Muses. Suddenly Burne-Jones and Rossetti and the Pre-Raphealite painters were there too clamoring for attention. Long Waterhouse style dresses to hide the body (not cheating; just simplifying) and evoke an era of art history? Done. Lets go all the way and inscribe the tile with the motto associated with the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood! ( In for a penny... ) The motto is "Ars Longa, Vita brevis" which translates to "Art is long, life is short".
Animal familiars? Three witches? My 2 dogs naturally and Lesley's cat Cleo. A hare for Caroline? Sure! The two of them had recently met up for a hare themed exhibit in the UK and I was desperately jealous. You KNOW how I feel about hares. Oh and should I mention that the hairstyles are loosely inspired by we three? I know - it seems over the top. But it felt right to me. They DO need hairstyles, after all.
So I recently glazed the first two of these tiles. Why only 2? Well... They are very complex. I wanted to share the process here in a photo essay of sorts. This IS how I glaze all of my ceramic tiles - this one is just many more small parts..
1. Stain the entire tile with black (or dark) underglaze. Looks a wreck until you sponge it back. I like the added depth it gives the relief and it prevents any glaring white areas if a spot is accidentally left unglazed.
|Trust is needed here.|
2. Glaze the background ares. I like to work "back to front". This is either underglaze or glaze depending on my planned treatment of the frame. Three coats in and around.
|I think they look good already! SO excited.|
3. Three coats of peachy underglaze on faces and hands.
|Dark dark blue used to stain crevices on this version.|
4. Base color of hair - 3 coats. Sometimes 2 if my underglazes are thick.
|Even working 2 at once there are many variations. Truly one of a kind results.|
5. Accents in hair. Highlights and low lights.
|Aiming for auburn in the middle. We shall see.|
6. First dress: green glaze - 3 coats.
7. Secong dress - dark blue glaze - 3 coats.
8. Third dress - turquoise glaze - 3 coats. I selected this analogous palette for the first tile because I knew these glazes and colors worked together, chemically and visually.
|They look so "bleh" at this stage. These are glazes I have used and trusted for 20 years though!|
|Feeling a little disappointed with detail in these two animals. Then I remind myself they are like the size of a quarter!|
10. Paint the dogs in underglazes. Include shadowing and highlights. Yes, they look like my dogs. What else did you expect?
|OK that was fun!|
|Doggy details. Oscar in black and white. Zoey in fawn and brown.|
11. Glaze the background - 3 coats! And edges of tile. In this case I used a transparent grey; since the center area had an underglaze color on it the tile will read ad having a 2 toned background. ( Different tile as can see. I did say I did 2 at a time) AND glaze the center figures sash!
|Yes - different dogs. Simplifying a little and mirroring the cat and rabbit's colors.|
12. Very carefully paint 3 coats of clear glaze to all areas that are underglaze only. This will seal them, give them a gloss finish matching the other glazes and make them durable.
|This is tedious and my least favorite part.|
13. Fire the tile in the kiln. These are low-fired glazes and fire to ^04 at app. 1850 degrees F.
|Ta-Da! And yes - this one already sold. My husband told a return customer this story and it was a done deal!|
Thanks for staying until the end... I am proud of and deeply invested in my work, the details, the layers of meaning that may never be evident to the casual viewer. This new design means quite a bit to me and I am happy to share the backstory with you!