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Saturday, July 26, 2008

First attempts with terra sig

Short for 'terra sigillata' the Romans used it to cover their pots. It's a clay slip made of only the finest clay particles. Brushed on in several thin coats, it almost shines itself. It's very cool stuff!

For my first attempt, I just used some old dried out white stoneware clay scrap I had. Searching around on the internet and the clayart archives, I'd found several recipes, the most definitive being Vince Pitelka's procedure. Not having all the equipment and chemicals needed, and just wanting to do a rough first draft, I found this article on Ceramic Arts Daily by Joan Carcia.
(Ceramic Arts Daily is a nice site, and free to join)

Being a rough test, I found I had about 2lbs of dried clay, so I used about a gallon of water, and a tablespoon ful of TSP that I found at the local building/home store.

After settling and siphoning, I poured it into a biqued bowl I hadn't gotten around to glazing yet to evaporate/absorb some of the water off. (Tip: soak the bisqe in some water first to get the pores of the clay 'siphoning' quicker)

I'm finding the white sig is working very well. Outstanding actually, for the sloppy way I followed the directions. I now have a larger batch made with red clay scraps settling, and will need evaporating. I just tried using some I siponed of the top yesterday and it's just too thin. I rubs right off when I try and polish it.

This time around, I was looking for the quick and dirty way, since I wanted to try it on some pots headed to a saggar firing in a couple weeks and I had to get them bisqued. My next attempts will be following Vince's process, and I can't wait to have some super sig to experiment with!


Meagan Chaney said...

Hey Brian,
Good luck with the terra sig! sounds like you've figured out a great quick method. I've never worked with it, so i don't have any advice there. but i wanted to thank you for your suggestion about my clay dry time. i hadn't even considered putting a table back outside. i'll have to give it some more thought. hope you post pictures of your terra sig pieces when they're finished. Happy firing!

Brian said...

Thanks, Meagan!

I've finally posted some pics of previous work, and will post more after the firing next weekend.