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how i use terra sig

updated thu 22 mar 01


Ron Collins on tue 20 mar 01

Hi Cindy....I use terra sig rather than colored slips or lots of colored
glazes for the students for two main reasons, and it seems to work out well
for me. One, pigments are imported and expensive, so they go a lot farther
and last a lot longer in terra sig than in a colored slip and many are
colored with natural colorants found in the clays, etc I find down here.
With colored terra sigs, I can limit my glazes to clear, cream, tenmoku,
black, etc, and still have a nice number of some
students come sporatically, they aren't always around to put colored slips
on at the leatherhard stage, and if they do it dry, the clay cracks and wet,
the clay cracks...a good clay, but it has it's limits. This way, if they are
careful, they can put the terra sig on when they sand (if handbuilt) their
pieces...that way I don't have to keep a pot under plastic for weeks waiting
for them to get back from where ever they went, as people here travel a lot.
Englobes, etc would probably do it too, but terra sigs are easier to make
and work with and are pretty with unglazed areas, whether burnished or
not...we do use a nice smooth white slip, but that's the only one...
I was having such a frustrating time with interesting glazes and this
solves the problem, at least for now, and since terra sigs are practically
no cost, I don't care any more how much they slop around and spill, whereas
before I would seeth inwardly at the glaze that was wasted by careless or
"won't listen to me when I tell them how to do it" types... I needed
dependablility, and have that now....also, the slips would get too thick,
and terra sigs are easy to just add a little more water and carry on much
easier than stopping to mix the slips with a mixer because they are full of
hard flecks from the last person who forgot to put the lid back on or
scraped the sides of the bucket, and I didn't see it....the only downside is
that they have to be so careful not to put too much on and their piece get
waterlogged and crack or come apart in their hands. One more plus is that
for the ones who want to sit and "paint things" on their pots, patterning
clear glaze over the terra sig looks nice without being garish, they also
can have fun with wax resist (I read that I can use Elmer's glue instead,
and will soon have to find out) and I'm not going to start providing
underglazes, because that opens up a whole other can of pigment/cost/waste
problems. They can go through colored underglazes faster than you can make
them. They always end up painting the whole piece, after they mess up what
they were trying to do in the first place. I have tried severely limiting
their choices, but most people like color, and I don't blame them, so they
need some choices that are flexible enough to appeal to the anal retentives
as well as the free spirits.
Anyway, it's my birthday, and after a day of students, I'm tired and
going to more soon.....Melinda