Hand, Feet And Velvets…

A couple weeks ago I was at my friend Ray’s (remember he gave me all the baseball bats that Sofia painted) and while he was giving me stuff, trying to get rid of stuff as he said, he asked… you want some glaze? I said, what kind of glaze, skeptically? He said it’s underglaze, I think, I’ve got boxes of it. I said, give me one and I’ll take it home and test it. To make a long story shorter, I took it home and looked it up on the internet and it fires to ^6 and it’s called a velvet. Anyway, on Saturday Ray, Sofia and I went to a get together at the home of the inlaws of my first sculpture teacher from 1978. He had gotten married again and they were having a little celebration complete with gourmet catering and an irish band. To my delight there was a woman playing the Uilleann pipes which is a kind of bagpipe with a bag under the elbow strapped to the waste and has the advantages of allowing the player to sing while playing and the air provided is not moist because it isn’t coming from the player’s mouth so the dry air doesn’t wreak havoc with the reeds. So Ray drove and picked us up and brought this…

Yesterday, the bug and I went through it all to see what colors and it’s a strange assortment (only 6 or 7). Of course she wanted to “paint” right away and she selected “cinnamon”. When I opened the little jar, there was kind of a cystalline residue and they had all settled, probably because Ray had them for years along with all the other stuff he’s collected. So we got all the cinnamons and stirred them and dumped them into the blender…

Sofia was getting bored by the tedium of this and decided to smother the dog. And eventually, all blended and screened and all the little cleaned jars refilled (and Sofia painting in the background)…

Now before I get to the next part, I have to give a bit of background. Ray is a collector, he’s got so much stuff that sometimes it’s hard to believe and he got much of that stuff by being in the right place at the right time and just vigilantly and always being on the lookout. So years ago, there was a now famous ceramic artist (that will remain anonymous) that lived and worked for some years in Louisville. We knew a young woman that worked for this person and when this person moved away and on to other things, they took what they wanted and threw tons of stuff on a big discarded garbage heap behind the studio. Most of it was defective in one way or another but the woman we knew took Ray out there and he salvaged whatever appealed to him. So when he picked us up and gave me the underglazes he also gave me a box with perfect little hand made cubes and a pyramid plus some plaster molds and some little cast heads. Here’s the bug contemplating the power of the porcelain pyramid…

Not all the molds had all the parts but we decided to give it a try as I had some gallons of casting slip in the basement. So we filled them up…

And here’s the yield…

Of course Sofia was very excited about getting the pieces out of the molds and not at all excited about waiting for the slip to harden. Our first try was this head that not only the bug, but Dad had a bit of trouble waiting for it to harden enough and it pulled apart as I opened it up…


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12 Responses to “Hand, Feet And Velvets…”

  1. Judy Shreve Says:

    Woohoo — look all those velvets — what a treasure trove. Some of the lighter colors may fade at ^6 – but the darker ones are pretty wonderful fired at a hotter temp.

    Sofia has the most wonderful days hanging out with you . . .

  2. Gordo Says:

    There’s something gleefully ghoulish about body part molds. 😉

  3. Rob Lorenz Says:

    Ghoulish indeed. At the high school I work for they have a set porcelain doll molds, head, arms, legs…the whole bit. Just playing around one day I pressed some clay into the head mold and got a pretty cool/creepy partial baby face. I think someone kept it and glazed it. I have also seen these same baby doll head molds used to make mugs, planters, etc. I always thought it would be kind of cool to drink out of a baby’s head.

  4. meredith@whynot Says:

    and all I can think of is the feet would be fun to put on a bowl or mug.
    Gosh that Sofia is lucky to have all this stuff to play with.
    It makes me want to pack a lunch and come over!

  5. meredith@whynot Says:

    PS_ Maine was divine you need to go again- the lobster and good beer are just waiting for you- tried a good local brew from Sebago.
    I was happy with the Red ale Mark was happy with the double hoppy, suck all the moister out of your mouth- double IPA-
    I taste bitter and to him he tastes sweet- it’s okay I was very happy with the ale!
    Cheers- M

  6. ang Says:

    wow i have one of those pyramid shapes..i pretty much chucked all the large molds that were just using up space really and kept a few bits…..I can see those feet popping up all over and the faces i used to think they were creepy but have quite gotten used to the masks that rose makes now, they pop up on our stall when she has the time, some halves some torn kinda like yours!! hope you’re getting to work ok in the heat now, I’m now waiting about a week for things to dry enough to trim…timing is never quite right..

  7. Paul Barchilon Says:

    Hahahaha, that is a great story. By the way, I use lots of Amaco Velvet Underglazes, and they are great! I am firing at cone 06 though, I didn’t even know they did high fire ones…. I fear cinnamon is a fairly boring brown, although I have never used it myself. We had some left over at the high school where I teach, I seem to recall that someone used it, but I can’t remember for sure >_<

  8. eugene hon Says:

    These are the colours I use for my Tattoo painting etc. AMACO Velvet colours – they are about R500 a bottle here in South Africa ($63each). All my tattoos are painted in the reds, oranges yellows etc. They are fantastic – you need to paint three layers; if you require flat cover of the desired colouring. They fire up to 1240 degrees Celsius and are very bright – you don’t even need a glaze – they vitrify brilliantly at this temperature. One never could fire Amaco to this high temperature. I have used it, as a matter of fact, introduced it to SA in 1984. You only got the AMACO underglaze colours in water colour pallets. They only started making these vibrant high fired colours recently. Very stunning gift. Fabulous to play with ready-mades, the moulds etc Greta stuff

  9. Sharon Says:

    Some of the Amaco underglazes do survive up to cone 10. Amaco used to have a PDF that listed what the colors looked like at cone 6 and 10….last time I looked I couldn’t find it. But when I got a bunch of underglazes I wrote the colors on the containers. I think Cinnamon is supposed to look black at cone 10, but I haven’t tried it. The purples tend to turn blue. Maroon burns out as does Chartreuse. Most of the other greens work. Turquoise comes out turquoise even under shino. The bright colors, like bright yellow and bright orange come out fine at cone 10, while just plain yellow burns out. The colors tend to work better when you put two to three coats on. I was reminded of this when I had a purple mostly burn out recently. I’m sure Sofia is going to have loads of fun with these. I used them one time with my nieces and nephew and some spare bisqueware, and they had a blast.

  10. Sharon Says:

    Went looking around for that PDF and I see that Amaco updated it with color swatches from cone 5 and cone 10….before it only had descriptions. Here is the link to the PDF: http://www.amaco.com/pdfs/458-1.pdf

  11. Paul Barchilon Says:

    That is interesting, thanks for the link! I just tested V-327 at cone 6 actually, it develops pits and bubbles, at least under the glaze I am using. I have been working in lowfire for years, but am experimenting with high fire as I am interested in making tiles that will work outdoors.

  12. Patricia Griffin Says:

    OMG, you scored with the Velvets! You are RICH in underglazes! I use Velvets for my pieces and go to 5 or 6. Always cover with clear glaze for functional stuff. Have fun!!!

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