When Jennifer announced “fireflies” as the themed challenge over at Art Jewelry Elements – I knew the exact look I wanted to capture. The luminous deep blue sky, trees in silhouette, just enough light to see by… and the magical sparkles of light, like fairies flitting in the dusk.
In the ceramics studio I have been testing out my palette of underglazes in the ^10 reduction firings we do at the work studio. The underglazes are holding up to the high heat and retaining their color in a pleasing fashion – on porcelain. I love porcelain, but its not the clay body I use most. So lets give it a whirl…
I carved a few simple pendants style pieces with the silhouetted shapes of grasses and trees. The fireflies themselves are circular impressions: I wanted to melt glass seed beads there. Planning on keeping the porcelain matte in finish – the seed beads should create little glossy halos around the “firefly” impressions. Here they are glazed, and a few of the first results:
Now the good news and the bad: I fired them all at once. All my proverbial eggs in the same basket. So I see what worked, and what I want to change, but I have to start anew. As shown above – all the blue skies look alike at first – and some have fired much darker. It was different shades of blue… The seed beads created the EXACT halo I wal looking for; but they were yellow/golden beads and they have fired to an amber color, not the yellow I hoped for…
These four are the truest to my original plan, although there are things I want to try differently. (They will be available at Ceramic Art Bead Market on FB later this week)
These three are much darker, but have some nice larger melty fireflies and a few smaller plain yellow ones in the distance. (Also on CABM later this week.)
Now – of course I had another idea as well, and limited time between 2 shows this month and teaching Clay Camp at the “work” ceramics studio… Mason jars. The iconic symbol of childhood summer nights catching fireflies.
These are still a WIP. I sculpted three jars of varying sizes from polymer, and made a quick mold. I cast them in resin, doing multiple pours, and embedding golden microbeads and flecks of gold leaf in the layers. (The gold leaf wins. The micro beads are too small.) The purple RTV had a more open surface texture, resulting in a frosted look that you can see on the left and center jars. The yellow molding putty – from ICE resin – had a much tighter surface, and yielded a better result. Still a bit cloudy/frosty, I plan to give these a quick surface coat of ICE resin to smooth out the inconsistencies in the surfaces and hopefully achieve a smooth/transparent/glossy surface.
I know this may be a logical go-to mixed media combination to create an iconic firefly piece… but I love it! I plan to wire wrap the jar’s neck… and I have visions of a necklace palette of dark blues, teals, black with one or two pops of yellow scattered in the night sky…
Please take a chance to see the other offerings from AJE team members and guests this month! Sure to light up some ideas for you!