Convergent Series

learning, using & teaching metal clay, and other aspects of life

Third blob’s a charm….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/01/13

I haven’t updated blog, nor done much of anything non-essential, for over a week. I have read and commented at a few other sites, but that’s easier than coming up with something new myself, given the massive sinus & such infection that invaded my head. I’m perking back up — just in time, I might add, so I can lead a (very full, I hear) Curved Oblong Pendants workshop at Zelda’s this weekend — and I have begun composing several other posts in my head which will materialize after that (and maybe after a couple more classes too … I really am way behind on many fronts). But here’s a quick one in response to my friend Alice’s recent post Third time is NOT a charm!

Alice was talking about slip-trailing, which is a technique borrowed (as far as I know) from pottery. Thinned-down clay (slip) is poured (trailed) across a piece. Some metal clay folks do extremely precise designs, carefully dripping tiny amounts of slip at a time off the tip of a paintbrush; others do more random designs (as I did in the first photo shown with this post, above) by letting it dribble out of the end of a syringe that you hover over the piece, often moving that around in a somewhat random pattern. (Other tools, and combos of those approaches, are also possible, but I won’t go into all that now.) Alice wrote that she and a friend tried this recently (Alice has done this a few times before) and, though the friend seemed to achieve some good results, Alice ended up with some “blobs” that she was less than happy with.

Now, I could have just left a sympathetic comment on Alice’s post, but the reason I’m writing all this here is so I can show her (and you too) the second photo. It’s also a slip-trail design, but what you see is nothing like I had in mind when I started it. My goal had been something geometric but, as Alice herself often says, sometimes a piece will tell you what it wants to be.

And this one was quite emphatic. I trailed the line down the center. Fine. I trailed a second line. Blob! Not sure what to do with that, I trailed a third. Another blob. I sat there, frustrated, looking at the blobs.

And I saw tulips! Two distinct flowers, which led me to imagine a third tulip-blob that had simply grown off the top of the frame. And that was it: the piece had told me what it wanted to be. I took out a paintbrush and very carefully squeezed in just a few tiny leaves, to help confirm the image.

The only problem with writing this post, of course, is that I’ve now publicly admitted that the design on that piece was sheer luck. Or, maybe the artistry in it was recognizing the luck?

Here’s wishing Alice, and all my other readers, the ability to recognize good luck when it pops up in front of you!

2 Responses to “Third blob’s a charm….”

  1. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t . I’m afraid my blobs were big enough to cover my whole piece. Not much to do with it. I’m still firing them and hoping the liver of sulfur does highlight the very subtle design. (Which is definitely random.) My student’s work is a lot like Jackson Pollock’s. She had a rhythm going that she probably couldn’t duplicate if she tried and someone else wouldn’t be able to copy.


    • C Scheftic said

      Yes, when one has it, that “rhythm” is one of the really-fun things about slip trailing! But, when one doesn’t, that can add to a “funk” too, can’t it?

      I still hope your pieces surprise you, pleasantly, letting you glimpse what they were trying to be.


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