March 2011 BOC Spotlight Artist!
What do you call yourself?... Artist, Beadiest, Ceramic Artist, Potter.??? Hmmm... An excellent question and one that has always puzzled me. In my biography on Etsy, I refer to myself as a "clay artist". I might go with "Ceramicist", but some say that's not a word. (I am grinning).
How long have you been working in clay? Since 1994.
What clays do you use? I use Standard's Porcelain (#365)
How do you fire? A relatively hot cone 6 in an electric kiln.
Where is your working space/studio? I'm in between studios right now -- I am enrolled with the City or Norfolk -- that's where I do most of my bigger pieces and pottery, but cumulatively, it's a large room at my Mom's in which I do most of my jewelry work. (grinning sheepishly this time)
Do you work alone? Yes.
Name the steps you have to making a finished piece of your work:
Typically, I roll out the carefully prepared porcelain, using a sheet of hardboard (A fantastic, inexpensive, smooth, porous rolling material, but careful: I've noticed that they have begun applying a coating which renders it useless as a clay rolling board).
Second, I cut out shapes freehand with a very fine cutting knife. I then carefully pick the small shapes up off of the porous backing (it's important there's no sticking) and wisp out the ends with a little bit of water applied to my fingertips.
It's kind of like pulling a handle for a mug on a miniature scale.
Once I have achieved a nice "tendril" if you will, I place it aside for a few minutes until is no longer sticky wet (but still supple and bendable).
Now is when "scroll" the tiny ends with my fingertips.
I set the pieces aside until they are leather hard (or dryer).
At this stage, I finish them with a very soft sponge. I also make tiny holes in the pieces at this stage, if I need to, using a set of miniature drill bits (the "regular" kind for drilling wood and metal) .
If a piece requires carving, I do it at this point with a small stylus tool off of which I have sanded the ball tip (thus making a sharp, tapered point).
When the pieces are bone dry I remove any fine textures that were left by the sponge by "sanding" with my fingertips.
(Don't cringe ... it's porcelain, so it's a very smooth process....
Still, I do this outside with a dust mask).
Finally I'm ready to bisque fire. (cone 06)
After retrieving the pendants from the kiln, I rinse them under the tap using a toothbrush to remove any caked dust from the crevices.
I now let them dry so they will readily accept the glaze (the next step).
I dip each piece as a potter might, covering it with glaze, and set them aside (again). Once dry, I use use a semi-moist sponge, rubbing the tops and backs of the pieces until a nice "antiqued" look has been achieved.
(most of the glaze is left on the sides and in the crevices). I remove the glaze more completely from the backs so they can be fired directly on the kiln washed kiln shelves.
Now comes the part you all know and love: the glaze firing.
After reveling (hopefully) in the newly fired pieces, I assemble them into jewelry attaching any accents
(which I mention below).
Favorite glazes? Right now I am using some glazes (of my own making) that "rub off well". (I suppose I am using these glazes equally as a glaze and a stain). Once fired, the pieces appear to be something other than porcelain -- either metal (with the black glaze I am using) or an earthy, wood/bone with my sable-colored glaze.) I am accenting these earthy or metallic pieces with splashes of color from gems, glass, or my own brightly colored porcelain spheres.
Favorite themes, design inspirations? I love the spiral in Nature. It is omnipresent and that is fascinating to me! Also, creatures such a jellyfish, octopi and manta rays are infinitely intriguing. Ancient maps, compass roses, fractals and crop circles (to name a few) also capture my imagination.
Ceramic artists you admire? Antonio Gaudi
Where do you sell and show your work? Etsy.com, word of mouth, and a handful of regional galleries. I am currently working on launching my Wholesalecrafts.com site.
Advice to newbies? As excruciating as it might be, think about the business end as much as possible. As far as your work: if you have a success, stick with it (and refine, refine, refine it!)
Favorite piece tool or piece of equipment? Without my fingertips, I'd be sunk. (and fingertip less)
Web site: www.MantaWave.Etsy.com
Blog? I know I need one badly, but lo and behold, I am without one.
What a great interview! Thanks so much Greg! We love learning different techniques.
Remember to visit Greg (AKA MANTAWAVE) on Etsy to see more of his fabulous work!!!
Check back next month to meet another one of our Beads of Clay family!
Aprils Featured Artist is Lisa Boucher/Clayworks of New Hampshire