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patina for earthenware sculpture

updated fri 7 nov 03


Pat Gilmartin on thu 6 nov 03

Does anyone have a recipe for a patina (cold finish) that I could use on
figurative earthenware sculpture. I'm just getting started in sculpture and
could use some help with a final finish for my pieces. Thanks for your help.

Snail Scott on thu 6 nov 03

At 12:28 PM 11/6/03 -0500, you wrote:
>Does anyone have a recipe for a patina (cold finish) that I could use on
>figurative earthenware sculpture.

Lots 'n' lots of options! Paint (acrylic or oil)
can look great, and subtle blending will prevent
it from looking like housepaint. Acrylic mediums
and varnishes can modify the surface. (Moisten
the clay before applying acrylics - they'll flow
better.) Prismacolor pencil can do interesting
things on clay. Wax can go over other finishes,
or by itself. Colored waxes can be interesting,
though the brightest colors tend not to be very
lightfast. Try heating the clay when you use wax.
(Shoe polish is a convenient form of wax.) Metal
leaf, applied selectively, can really spark up a
piece. Rub'n'Buff can be an interesting metallic
effect, too.

Earthenware clays, by their absorbency, offer a
whole range of unique finish options not possible
with vitrified bodies.


Stephani Stephenson on thu 6 nov 03

Some favorite 'cold finishes' for earthenware clay are

1.Caranuba wax..'Trewax' slightly warm piece for best
results, or warm gently with a torch after application

2. rabbitskin glue. cook it up... very durable

3.Oil bars , such as Winsor Newton Oil bars . artist quality can rub pigment into clay or dip rag or brush

in thinner first and apply oil bar as a 'wash'. also oil
paints are wonderful to rub wash into clay when thinned.

4. you can tint clear finishes with color....oil based waxes
can be tinted with oil colors, acrylic finishes with
acrylics, etc.

5. Leather dyes. will stain clay and will soak into clay
rather than 'sit on ' clay surface. on in they cannot
easily be altered.
however they look like an integral part of the clay.

6. Airbrush acrylics or Inks. choose artist quality so
pigments will not fade. apply as thinned down washes or use
acrylic medium or surfactant to extend to alter drying
quality of acrylics. experiment with wetting surface of
clay before application.

7. you can float a little bit of finely ground luster
pigments, which are used as paint additives, usually have a
mica component...into sealers, waxes and pigments, if you

8.. best finish of all i have ever used is traditional
Navajo technique of applying sap to a pot just pulled from
the fire.
cherry sap, a hard durable finish, different tree saps lend
different finishes, all very nice.

9. test waxes first, some waxes will 'bloom' white scum on
pot surface.
some waxes or finishes may not be compatible with other
'cold finish' pigments
.if using wax, be sure pot is thoroughly dry.

10. Duncan use to make the best spray on sealant in my
opinion, had a nice matte and matte satin 'durable' looking
finish, not plastic like some others/ one hint for some
sealant is to apply sealant then quickly wipe it ...that way
you don't get the 'embalmed in plastic' look.

11. a fired on surface is still more desirable in many ways,
especially with regard to durability, so make sure you are
'choosing' the cold finish.... if you are just 'making do'
with it, keep working on the fired finish too!
Stephani Stephenson