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Terra Sigillata







Time has given us the rich, warm patina observed on ancient clay sculptures and pottery displayed in museums.
The combination of years of dust, cleaning and handling has created surfaces that can look like leather, wood or stone depending on the original color of the pottery.
The clay sculptures produced centuries ago were sometimes glazed, but most were just waxed.
Wax is still the best way to preserve the integrity of details and provide some degree of protection against dust and stains on unglazed ware.
Through application of clay dust and wax, this technique creates the subtle look of ancient patinas without the wait.
Using different colors of clay dust on different clay pottery provides for a wide variety of tones.
A piece of red clay pottery or sculpture with a light brown dusting of clay looks a little bit like wood, while a brown piece of pottery or sculpture with a light white clay dust will look like leather.
For a piece of pottery or sculpture to look like limestone, which is shown here, use white, low fire earthenware clay for both the sculpture and the patina.
The sculpture was fired to maturation which would be Cone 05.

TIP

Always experiment on fired samples before trying this type of patina on a high dollar piece, because it takes a little practice to achieve good results.
Since this type of patina is somewhat translucent, your pottery or sculpture must be built carefully to prevent cracks during drying and firing.
Any repairs done after firing will be visible through the wax.

HOW TO DO IT

Patina Decorating

Rub four or five damp rags, white cotton t-shirts material works the best, against a block of wet clay until saturated.
If you don't have a block of clay, you can put some slip in a bucket, add a bit of water and soak you rags in that.
Hang in a warm place until rags and clay are bone dry.

Patina Decorating 1

Spray floor wax over the entire piece.
Any brand floor wax will work.

Patina Decorating 2

Work outdoors and use a dust mask for this step.
Immediately after spraying, slap one of the clay loaded rags against the piece repeatedly until the right amount of dust sticks to the wax.

TIP

At first, this step can be unnerving because it sometimes looks blotchy.
Add more wax and slap with clay dust laden rag as many times, until you are satisfied with the results.

Patina Decorating 3

When the desired look has been achieved, you need to spray a final layer of floor wax to obtain a satin finish.

It is better to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.



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Have you ever come up with a good idea while working with your handmade pottery and thought that you would like to share it with others? You have? Well, why not send it to us and we will add it to the tips page for all to see.

Handmade pottery can be a very gratifying hobby that produces fun and satisfying results. For many people it's an enjoyable release that is created by working an inanimate mound of clay into a beautiful work of art that you made through your artistic abilities.

The best way of starting out is to take a few lessons from Youtube. You will probably waste quite a bit in materials when you first get started. Figuring out how to truly make handmade pottery correctly and shape into what you want it to be can be quite an ordeal. The different tools that a normal shop will have can be fun to try. You will soon see which ones you like to use the most and then when you are ready you will know which ones to buy.

With the help of the internet, you can now purchase most if not all of your ceramic and pottery tools and supplies online. We are located far from any well supplied dealers and yet working with reliable ceramic and pottery suppliers online has allowed us to recieve most of our orders within a timely manner.

When you get all set up, just enjoy the hobby and have fun at it. Some people get pretty serious and start selling their creations at craft fairs and small stores, but others just like to create items for themselves, relatives, and friends. Whichever kind of handmade pottery you desire to endeavor, enjoy the hobby and have fun doing it.

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