Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Toad houses...with toads

I made two toad houses for a customer who wanted to give them as gifts. I was instructed to make each one a little different from the other, and with toads on top of both. I made large toads perching on the sides of the roof rather than try to make tiny ones to fit on the very top.  Getting the details of the feet and legs seemed like it might be too difficult in miniature.  By the way, the toads bodies are hollow and after attaching to the roofs I made a hole through the roof and the toad bellies so as to avoid any unfortunate toad explosions.
The houses were made on the wheel as closed forms.  When leather hard, I placed them back on the wheel and threw the little finials, one an acorn, and the other a beehive (sort of) on top.  
The color application came after bisque firing.  I have some engobes and slips that can be used on both greenware and bisque, but find I prefer to use them on bisque since, being dry and porous, it holds the material better.  Also, I often apply the color then wipe off to leave a light stain in some areas and darker stain in areas with etched designs- a technique which works best with bisque fired pieces.  Next, the toad houses were glazed, then a 50/50 by weight combination of frit 3134 and mason stains was brushed over the glaze to get the toad color.  A little disappointment here- what worked great on a test tile (chartreuse spots over tan) did not work as well on the toads, as the chartreuse can barely be seen.  Actually, at least around here, toads are not green, but the customer asked if I could add touch of green.  I am very glad that this particular customer understands that working with glazes is not the same as choosing crayons out of a box!
One of those grab and go mornings with the items, still warm from the kiln: Quick pictures of the finished toad houses with an oak tree for a backdrop at River City Farmer's Market in Marietta, Ohio just before meeting up with the customer.

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