Saturday, December 1, 2007

BI #13 - clay signs

I kept seeing in catalogs and places like Hallmark stores these little signs, ceramic or clay or wooden or metal, with beads on them sometimes, and quotes or little sayings. They were kind of pricey and I couldn't find quotes I liked for specific people, so I got this brilliant idea that I could MAKE some at Charlie's clay studio. I talked to Charlie about it and he said he thought it could be done but that I should test a couple first to make sure I would be able to do what I wanted.

Originally, I thought I could use a stencil for the lettering, but I had trouble with that so I thought I could hand-write into the clay, but I'm not crazy about my handwriting at the best of times and the effect in clay was less than stunning. So I asked Charlie about somehow getting the words on the clay without having to write it myself. He said he had been testing something using a photocopier and that he thought I could do it this way but it would require special paper, a special copier, and extra time involved.

Not being concerned with common-sense warnings of this nature, I forged ahead. I collected quotes, printed them in special fonts selected for each individual I would be making a sign for, and took my special paper and my printouts to a copy shop, where they used an older photocopier with a high iron content in the toner to print my copies. This was important because the iron in the copy would melt onto the clay when it was fired; newer copiers don't have the same kind of toner, and won't work.

I rolled out my tiles on the table, trying to get them at even widths. I cut the sides and made holes for wires to go through, signed the backs and set them out to dry so they could be fired. After they were fired, I came back in and glazed them. Then they had to be fired again. Then I cut out my special copies and soaked them in water and placed them on the tiles. This was a painstaking process as once they were down, they stayed where they were put, and the paper was fragile and tore easily.

It's been long enough ago that I'm leaving steps out, because I know there was a smelly spray involved and a big drying/fan thing I had to put them in once the lettering was on, but I can't remember why I did this step. Then the tiles had to be fired again to set the lettering.

Once I got the tiles home, I was able to use wire I'd purchased to string beads (chosen to match the color schemes of the tiles and the individuals to whom they were being given), and they were wrapped up as Christmas gifts. It was a LONG process that I don't want to do again, but the results turned out pretty good! Unfortunately at that time I did not have a nifty digital camera, so the only one I have a picture of is the one I made for Chelle, which I took a photo of this weekend when I was visiting. :)

Jan e-mailed me a picture of the one I made for her:

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