Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cold Finishing.

I've worked in clay for decades but I didn't know I was using 'cold finishing' on my work.  Call it  marketing or more 'art speak', cold finishing is really very simple.  It's using paint to add color and texture to the bisqued clay body giving it a finished surface beyond the bare clay.

Even though porcelain pieces right out of the bisque kiln are beautifully white, they're still slightly rough to the touch.  They're still porous, too, so dust, oil and other debris can stain and damage the clay.  That's why functional pieces are always glazed.

Sculptural pieces don't need this kind of functional protection.  But they do need some finishing to give the clay some protection as well as a richer surface.  

When I first started making clay masks, I just painted them with acrylic paints.  Then I learned to do metal leafing in gold, copper and silver.  Adding this kind of metal surface to the clay and then adding thin layers of oil paint creates such a deep, beautiful surface.

I made several new porcelain pieces shaped around large leaves I found on my morning walks in the park.  Deep in my studio closet were two clay busts I'd called 'leaf ladies' which I'd abandoned in my quest to learn new skills in functional work.  Somehow, the porcelain leaf bowls and older clay busts seemed to be a perfect match.  My old pieces had been 'cold finished', so this week I began to re-learn this technique in order to finish these new sculptures.

In the last few years, my easel had moved from center stage to the edges of my studio and my collection of paints had shoved into the closet.  I remember thinking recently that it was time, maybe, to throw those old paints away since I wasn't using them.  

I'm glad I didn't.  I thought I was finished with cold finishing.  But what I see now, is art isn't about being finished with anything, it's always about beginning.

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