It is easy to make elegant drawings in black and white on a ceramic support, by raku technique. That leads to original decoration for your home, business office etc...
Step 1: How to Prepare the Ceramic Support Before Drawing
What you need :
- raku clay or stoneware clay, which is white after firing, and support thermal shocks
- wooden baguettes 5mm thick
- wooden roller (here I use a curtain rod)
- wooden or plaster supports
- On a wooden or plaster support, put some clay between 2 wooden baguettes. Then roll the clay in order to flatten it, the roller will stay on the baguettes so that the thickness of the clay layer will be homogeneous.
You can start with thicker baguettes, for example 1cm, then decrease the thickness until the final layer is 5mm thick.
- Smoothen the surface with a rubber kidney, the smoother the better for final result
- Cut the clay on the dimensions you want, square, rectangle.... Don't forget that there is a little shrinkage after drying and firing, usually 7-8% for raku clay.
- Let the clay dry between 2 wooden planks with heavy things put on it : it takes longer time, but in that way, the square clay will not be deformed during drying. The water will evaporate through the wood.
- Smoothen the edges of the cut clay with a sponge and water when it is near to be totally dryied.
- When it is fully dryied (at least 2 weeks at room temperature), fire it at bisque temperature 980°C (~1800°F) with a slow firing cycle (approx. 100°C/h).
Step 2: How to Make the Drawing With Wax Ang Glaze
What you need :
- the bisque plate fired in the previous step
- thin paint brush
- colorless furnishing liquid wax
- transparent glaze for raku
- glazing tongs
- Choose your model for drawing and do it on the bisque. It can be an original drawing you have created, in this example I have worked from a photo : I have reproduced the woman with a pencil on a tracing paper, then I have applied the drawing on the bisque thanks to the drawing paper.
Keep in mind that your drawing will be in black and white, and identify well with the pencil which parts will be black.
- This is the most difficult part : apply the liquid wax with the thin paint brush, on your drawing, on the parts which will be black. That means : you draw again your model, but with wax. In this example, I applyed the wax to draw the woman profile, hairs, shirt... Be carefull not to put a wax drop accidentally on the bisque, that will lead to a black spot at the end...
- Prepare the glaze (in my case, it is french commercial powder glaze mixed with a soup blender in raining water, 2kg powder / 1.8kg water, and I wait a little bit that air bubbles go away before I use it)
- With glazing tongs, pour the bisque into the glaze 2 seconds and drain it : it is done ! As you can notice, the glaze magically does not go where there is wax.
- If you have some thick glaze drops on the drawings, remove them slowly with a strip tool, in order to have the most homogeneous glazing surface as possible.
- If the glaze has unfortunately recoverd a wax drawn part, you can remove it with a wooden toothpick.
- Don't forget to remove all the glaze wich is on the back of the bisque with a sponge. Then it is ready for second firing.
Step 3: Raku Firing
What you need :
- raku kiln (with gas)
- big tongs
- thermal protection : gloves, glasses, cotton clothes...
- metallic box with newspaper, wood shavings and sawdust
- Fire your glazed bisque in a raku kiln at the temperature for which the glaze melts. In this case, I have fired up to 980°C (1800°F).
- When the temperature is reached, cut off the gas, open the kiln (this kind of kiln is not concerned by thermal shocks) and with the tongs, take the ceramic drawing out, and put it into the metallic box.
- When the newspaper and sawdust ignite, put a little bit more sawdust on the plate and close the box for approx 10-15 minutes.
- The principle is that when the ceramic part is between 600°C and 900°C, the smoke goes in the porosity of the ceramic, and it becomes black. So, with thermal shock while pouring the caramic suddenly out of the kiln into the air, the glaze is randomly cracking, and then in the box, the smoke enters into the crackles AND in the parts of the ceramic which are not glazed, that means where you have previoulsly put wax to make the drawings.
- Put away the ceramic from the box with the tongs, let it cool and clean it under water with the scratch of a kitchen sponge, in order to remove black residues of firing.
Step 4: Finishing the Frame
What you need :
- wooden frame
- piece of wood painted in black
- tile adhesive
- liquid furnishing wax
- Your ceramic part is done, but the black parts of the drawings tend to become grey with time. If you want to preserve them from that, simply put some liquid wax on these black parts with a wipe to protect them.
- Cut a piece of wood with a size adapted to your frame, paint it in black, and when it is dry, you can glue the ceramic drawing with tile adhesive. You can also make your own wooden frame if you have the good tools for that, as I did for this example. Or you can frame it directly without gluing it on a support.
That's all !