Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Who doesn't love 'em?

The end of our pergola where we have the grill faces west. It gets very hot during major grilling season and the sun shines in your eyes any afternoon and evening. We tried hanging some outdoor bamboo shades, but they didn't last as long as we hoped. So, we covered that end with some fine mesh wire and planted some trumpet vines. They've completely covered the wire which helps with the heat and definitely blocks the sun from your eyes. When they bloom, they are gorgeous. It looks like a solid wall of flowers. They are not that easy for me to photograph, though. I haven't been able to get an image of the full wall of color that suits me nor of the individual flowers that I am really, really pleased with. I keep trying.

I had some minor surgery done and my doctor sent me flowers. Can you believe that?

The first image was taken on my breakfast table and was lit only by the light coming through the bay window.

The second image was taken in my bathroom window. The day was overcast and the window is frosted glass. I noticed that the trees outside were being heavily diffused by the glass and light and thought it would make a good background for the flowers. I had to use some fill flash to keep the flowers from being too dark.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

For World Travelers

It was suggested to me that I should create a Texas postcard front with a world traveler sort of feel but focusing on Texas. The requirements were that the name of a city and an image symbolizing that city would be the predominate focal point and easily changed to represent another city.

I think this one meets those requirements but could easily be changed to also represent the state as a whole or just certain regions of the state. For example, instead of a city's name, it could just say Greetings from Texas and any "Texas" image could be used. The same could be done for the different regions of Texas...West Texas, the Hill Country, East Texas, the Red River Valley, etc...
Each are Texan but with unique, and usually recognizable, attributes.

This is a composite image for display purposes. The actual file is just the front of the card.

As a side note: The NTTA is opening the Chisholm Trail Parkway this Sunday. It is a 27.6-mile toll road that will extend from downtown Fort Worth south to Cleburne.

The actual Chisholm Trail was a trail used to drive cattle overland from ranches in Texas to Kansas railheads. The cattlemen rounded up longhorns by the millions in Texas and drove them north across the Indian Nations into Kansas.
It went through Fort Worth then right by where we live now as does the new Chisholm Trail Parkway.

I can't say that I am too happy to have a major road running less than a mile west of my home. It did however peak my curiosity about the Chisholm Trail and I have learned a lot about the area in which I live. It is also the inspiration for the card front.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Ancient History

I have been organizing my photos recently and ran across the photo of this vase. This is not a new piece. I actually made it in 2006.

My husband has always said that one of these days I am going to blow up my studio because of my experiments. This is a classic example of why he says that.

The bisque vase is glazed with a perfectly clear lead-free commercial glaze. When the color companies first started to remove/reduce the amount of lead in glazes, they hadn't perfected their formulas and they were very difficult to use. Lead in a glaze makes the glaze move, flow and smooth out in the firing. Lead-free glazes did not do any of those things so they had to be applied perfectly.

Without thinking, or with proper instruction, I gave the bisque vase to one of my employees to glaze. When I saw it, I knew I was going to have a mess on my hands unless I washed all the glaze off and started over. I decided to experiment instead.

I sprayed the entire vase with Gold Spray Paint that I had purchased at Hobby Lobby for another project on which I was working. I then applied another type of glaze on the top portion of the vase. This glaze wasn't lead-free at the time and was deliberately formulated to flow and run excessively. It was also white as opposed to clear.

I then sprayed the top portion only with Copper Spray Paint that I purchased at Hobby Lobby and put it in the kiln to fire.

I was very surprised and pleased with the results. I wasn't expecting the pewter looking, flowing lines...seaweed, maybe? You can clearly see where the spray paint caught more on the ridges of the unevenly applied lead-free glaze creating ocean-floor-like texture. It looked, to me, like an underwater scene with waves crashing on top. I had just finished painting an oil canvas with dolphins underwater for my son so this might have influenced my thinking.

I wanted to add some "things" underwater to this vase but it was already fired with a hard, non-porous coating of glaze.

At this point, the best, if not the only, option was to use a non-fired product for my design. I had applied DecoArt glass paint directly to fired glaze many times in the past with great success, but I wanted a little more tooth under my shapes, primarily for blending the paint.

I had an idea!! I drew outlines of what I wanted on the vase with a sharpie marker and filled them with etching cream to rough up the surface. Today, I would create the shapes in Make-the-Cut, cut out a stencil with my digital cutter and use my air eraser to etch the shapes. I think it would make getting the outside edges shaped properly much easier.

I then painted the shapes with DecoArt glass paint.

A word of CAUTION here though. A glaze coating is a thin, vitreous substance that has been fused to the ceramic during firing. Its purpose, beyond being decorative, is to seal the item to make it water and bacteria proof as well as easy to clean. If you etch too deeply, you run the risk of weakening or breaking that seal. The chance of absorption and/or leaking of liquid or the trapping of bacteria can become a real issue with functional pieces. It is greater with earthenware or improperly fired stoneware and porcelain as they remain porous under the glaze.