Last year when Michael was in the hospital at UNC I had a lot of time to wander around. In one of the courtyards I noticed this bench.
I thought it must have been made by our friends the Vegas, although I had never seen any with tiles.
I contacted them and sure enough they had collaborated with an artist who made the tiles. Since I do tiles I had to ask if they would make me a couple.
Well they arrived this week and this is what they look like sans tiles.
Since I generally work in low fire clay and these will be outdoor benches I had to look around for a stoneware clay.
I found this clay that I like, it doesn't have a lot of grog in it (sand) and it is pretty white which I like.
Since I haven't done my style of painting on stoneware, which is fired hotter, I don't know how my underglazes will react so I will have to test the glazes.
Also, because the tiles have to fit in this space I have to figure out how much the clay is going to shrink and how well the clear glaze that goes over it is going to "fit". In other words the clay shrinks when fired, so if the glaze doesn't fit the surface will crack.
The manufacturer of the clay always gives you an idea of how much it is going to shrink but it's a good idea to do your own testing.
So I rolled out some clay, marked it like a ruler and bisque fired it.
I can now use the clay ruler to figure out how big to roll out my tiles so when they are fired they will fit.
I'll also use this ruler to test my glazes.
I'll share my results in an upcoming post.
For this first bench (I have 2), I am doing to do one of my traditional waterfront scenes. Wish me luck!