Alistair Gillies on tue 29 aug 06
Apologies for changing the title of the post but for some reason it was
going to spam.....
I agree with Snail - and incidentally have taught ceramics in what we call
secondary schools for 15 yrs.
If you give the youngsters a 'magic ingredient' [terra sig] then they will
believe that you need it. Terra Sig is an aid to provide a high level of
finish, not a basic burnishing tool.- youngsters will go 'wow' with the
effects of a spoon or pebble on clay - remember that they will not have seen
this before - with clay work you are constant introducing them to new and
interesting / taxing things.
Using spoons is useful as they have to exercise some control over the spoon
or the edge will cut in - i.e. they cannot do it whilst just having a chat -
well, they may briefly have to pause ocassionally:-).
Perhaps, have them burnish around a design that they have drawn - they will
have to concentrate more and the edge of the spoon comes in handy to produce
a slightly lowered surround which creates more of a feature of the design -
in my experience this can be a good teaching point.
Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire, England
From: "Snail Scott"
> No! I don't know any Indians that use terra sig -
> that's a European method. They do it the plain,
> ordinary (and very cheap) way - rub it 'til it's
> shiny. That's all. A smooth rock like an agate
> is great, but the back of a metal spoon will do
> a dandy job, too.
> Have them smooth it once with the spoons while
> it's stiff leather-hard. When the clay is mostly
> dry - hard and getting lighter-colored, but not
> fully dried, start burnishing. Many people add
> a light swipe of water or mineral oil at this
> stage, as they work. Be careful not to add too
> much water, or to wet any part that was already
> burnished. The mineral oil is safer, in the
> sense that adding too much won't destroy the pot,
> but water is free. You can do without either,
> also; the added lubricant just makes it go a
> little easier.
> If you want to get the effect of matte designs
> with the shiny backgound, just paint them with
> a thin slip of the same clay, after burnishing.
> The slip designs will stay matte. Sometimes it
> can flake off the shiny surface; keeping it
> very thin will help prevent that.
> Terra sig is handy in that it eliminates the
> elbow grease: just apply, swipe with a soft
> cloth, and you're done. Personally, though,
> I figure a little work won't harm the kids a
> bit, and it'll give them a sense of investment
> in the outcome, since the relationship between
> the effort and the result is so very direct
> and clear.
> Send postings to firstname.lastname@example.org
> You may look at the archives for the list or change your subscription
> settings from http://www.ceramics.org/clayart/
> Moderator of the list is Mel Jacobson who may be reached at