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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Learning About Test Tiles

There are many benefits to having test tiles for glazes. It allows you to test combinations of glazes easily and inexpensively, and serves as a permanent reminder of what a glaze looked like on a certain clay. Otherwise, if you’re like me, you forget very quickly.       How to make test tiles
I am not a potter, but I have the pleasure of hanging out with quite a few of them.  Now put two or more in room and inevitably you will hear the words "test tiles" bandied about.  If you don't wish to read the link above, they are quite simply prototypes for finding out how glazes will look on a finished piece.  They are the necessary research done prior to making a huge batch of "yucks."  Time, patience and note taking are required.
I got a free and much needed lesson in testing this week thanks to one of those distinguished potters.  I had a whim to make ceramic knobs for my kitchen, each one original and special and in a color palate I could only dream of, never mind buy.  My kind neighbor Maggie Black was eager to help me and after giving me a few tips left me to my own devices.

I had a ball rolling out the clay, cutting up shapes and then stamping them with pre-selected designs.  Perfection was not an issue because frankly I did not know enough to realize what goofs might stymie me later on.

It was actually a lot like making cookies.  They needed to be more or less the same depth and size (I knew they would shrink a skoosh) and I wanted the designs to be sorta related (lots of leaves).

Maggie popped them in the kiln and summoned me to come add the color.  Turquoise and yellow I announced.  It was then she burst my eager bubble and suggested, no, insisted, that I do some "test tiles."  Dread.  Time down the drain I began to think but she was slightly more accomplished in this endeavor than I!

So I dipped and cleaned and kept my selection to about 3 or 4 different memory is short.  And tried double dips, matt and shiny and did my best to hide my disappointment that this little project would be prolonged another week. 

So you can guess my next chapter, right?  Herewith the test tiles and it is no surprise than some of them are just butt-ugly.  You can be sure I was thanking Miss Maggie profusely from preventing me from sacrificing all my previous work in one impatient move.  

I played with these results, made notes, passed them by the other kitchen resident and made some decisions on how to proceed.  A long careful painting session, a few more random experiments (but not on the preselected, designated knobs) and we were back to the cooker, um, kiln.

This is the oven where the magic happens...and where surprises come out even with the best of testing.  It is always like Christmas to be present when a potter opens the kiln, frankly I don't know how they manage to wait for it to cool.  I'd need patience pills.

Oh boy oh boy oh boy.  Here are my beauties...and my continued thanks to Maggie for saying those dreaded words "test tiles."  Aren't these absolutely beautiful?

Time to get out the E6000 glue and attach the hardware.  This go round I was able to stumble across the hardware already made for projects like this (as opposed to roaming the hardware stores and creating my own from random pieces).  The base and screws can be found at D Lawless Hardware, and if you cannot cut your own knobs they also have bisqued pulls ready to paint and fire.  

So completely unique!  And I have enough finished pieces to make magnets.  And enough knob bases to do another stopping me now, unless I have to make more test tiles.  

Joking aside: those words and Maggie's insistence on using them have come back around and around this week haunting me into becoming a believer.  Stay tuned.  It's not only in ceramics that one needs to employ "test tiles."


1 comment:

  1. Oh you clever girl. But, did the test tiles make you testy? :)


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