One of my first assignments for my fabulous new job as Account Manager for the Ceramic Arts division of iLoveToCreate® was to attend Duncan® University. Basically that means that I got to spend 3 glorious days with long-time Duncan® Ambassador David Hoff in his home studio learning about the Duncan® line of products and how to use them. This job is torture. They forced me to make ceramics for 3 days and paid me for it (that's dripping with gallons of sarcasm, btw). I've never even come close to having that much fun at work before!
I have been making ceramics at Glendale Community College for the last 10 years or so. I mostly handbuilt my pieces out of clay or threw them on the wheel. That was the most labor intensive part of making ceramics. Once I finished that part, I'd go throw some glaze on it (some of which I mixed myself) and hope it didn't come out looking like baby poop. Many times it did.
The type of firing we did at school was mostly cone 10, which means it fires to the hottest temperature possible (2380 degrees F). It's okay, but there is a very limited glaze colors you can work with, mostly blues, greens and browns, and it's difficult to get much detail with them. For most of the time I was taking class there, I had a teacher that frowned upon doing using anything other than cone 10 clays and glazes, and truthfully I got bored after awhile.
About 2 years ago, that teacher retired and Esmeralda DeLaney came on bored as our instructor. Her work is much more colorful and whimsical, which was right up my alley. She inspired most of what I do today. She was much more open minded and experimental when it came to decorating our pieces. She introduced us to a few of the Duncan® products, specifically EZ Strokes® and Concepts®, and would let us fire them to cone 6 (a cooler temperature which is considered mid-range). We still constructed our own pieces by throwing and handbuilding clay, but finally there could be some color on them. If you've seen my work, you know my motto is 'brighter is better'. I started having fun making ceramics again! Plus, the fact that she let me use these Duncan products is partially responsible for getting me my cool new job, so thanks Es!
The ceramics that I learned at Duncan University is different than what I'm used to doing. They have a whole line of Oh Four® bisque ware, which is an already fired form that is ready to be decorated (the piece will still need to be fired again when you're done). I wasn't sure if I was really going to like doing it this way, but I found it to be fabulous! It's the equivalent of a painter buying a pre-stretched canvas instead of making one from scratch. Although I like making things out of clay, sometimes I just don't feel like getting involved because it's sooooo messy. And it takes so long to make and then to dry. Here, all you have to do is pick a shape and start painting it! You can fire it the same night and it will be ready the next day. Instant gratification! That's something I never was able to get in pottery class. And the great thing about the Duncan products I used is that they are consistent and reliable. If I paint on a glaze that is supposed to be blue, it will NOT come out looking like baby poop. It's like a dream come true.
Today the pieces that I made went on a photoshoot to the iLoveToCreate® photography studio (how fancy!). That's why the pictures below look so beautiful and professional. I was going to pretend that I took them, then realized that no one would believe me anyway. These pieces were fired to cone 06, which is considered low fire, but most of these products will work on pieces that are fired to mid-range as well. I followed the cirriculum for the first day of class or so, but as time went on I got rebellious and wanted to try doing things my way (funky, bold and loud), which is the exact opposite from my instructor's traditional style. To his bewilderment (and my delight), they came out pretty cool! I doubt if we'll be seeing my projects any time soon being offered at Duncan U, but hey, you never know...
This is the piece I started with. It was glazed with a Courtyard Art Glaze™
with a Crystals Glaze™ on top. There's a little bit of blue EZ Strokes® mixed in with the Crystals Glaze™. I can't wait to use more of these...they are so much fun!
This piece isn't really my style, but the technique I used to do it was awesome! Duncan® makes a product called Mask 'n Peel™, which is just like the masking fluid you would use in watercolor painting. You just draw your design, paint the Mask 'n Peel™ over it and let dry. Then paint the background with the Cover Coats® of your choice. The Mask 'n Peel™ repels what you paint on top of it and you get a nice clean line once you remove it. There's no need to stay inside the lines, which is right up my alley! When it's dry, peel the Mask 'n Peel™ off (it feels like a deflated balloon) and add color to your design with EZ Strokes®. Finish with a few coats of Pure Brilliance® and Voila!
This piece is what started me to veer off course. The project was supposed to have a soft, more realistic watercolor look to it. I asked David for permission to go nuts with it and started painting the petals different colors of Cover Coats®. He looked at me like I was crazy, especially because I used green for some petals and not for leaves. I sponged some EZ Strokes® in coordinating colors over the top for some texture, and did some doodling with black and white French Dimensions™. David told me that this was his favorite piece of mine, which is quite a compliment considering how it all started!
This is the piece that got me seeing ceramics in a whole new light. The beach scene is one of David's signature designs and he taught me how to paint it using EZ Strokes®. You can use them exactly like you would watercolor paint. He showed me how to combine colors, mix them with water for more subtle effects, and double load the brush to create shading. This is far different than anything I've ever done on clay, and I was ecstatic to learn about the possibilities. I have a ton of ideas in my head that I want to try using the same products and techniques. Luckily David sent me home with some extra platters and a set of brushes that I can use to do that. I used a clear Satin glaze® over the top for a matte finish.
This piece is part of the Duncan® University 'World of Creativity' Series. There are 7 projects that are all animal themed, one for each continent. This is the one for Asia that I absolutely fell in love with when I saw the brochure. I requested that it be one of the projects I did during my time in David's studio. Apparently it's an advanced course, so I earned an extra credit! These pieces were done using yet another new technique...cutting patterns out of contact paper and sticking them on the piece to block off areas that you don't want to paint. It was similar to the Mask 'n Peel™
technique I used for the flower vase. The background was done by sponging on different colors of Designer Glazes®. When dry I peeled off the contact paper revealing the seaweed areas. I painted them with Concepts and highlighted them with EZ Strokes®. Next, I peeled the contact paper off of the fish areas and painted them with Concepts®. Lastly, I outlined them with white French Dimensions™
. I mixed a little bit of everything on these...I guess you could call it 'mixed-media ceramics'! Needless to say, I loved making these.
This is a David/Laura collaboration...It started off with a base of white Satin Glaze® and then I painted the design over it with EZ Strokes® and Cover Coats®. This technique is called Majolica, which means you apply an underglaze (non-moving, meaning it stays put when fired) on top of a glaze (moving, meaning it melts when fired). The underglaze takes on the sheen of the glaze underneath it so there's no need to apply a clear glaze on top of it. Pretty cool! David cut some heart shapes out of a compressed sponge and showed me how to use EZ Strokes® to sponge on the shapes. He suggested the stems and leaves, an idea which I really liked. Then I finished it off by drawing bold lines and a goofy face on it by using black Concepts® in a squirt bottle with a fine tip.
As you may have guessed, this one was all me. I painted the design using Cover Coats®, did the drawing with Concepts® in a squirt bottle, and finished it with Pure Brilliance®. You'll probably be seeing a lot more like this coming out of my kiln in the near future!
If you want to take classes with the amazing David Hoff....visit his website at www.davidhoff.com.