Okay, it was really only three days and it was more information/technical details and separating/cleaning/sorting a box with about 300 brushes* than it was actual painting.
But I promised you guys some pictures...
So, what did I learn?
How to use my kiln. Well, how to use it for simple things. Apparently you can use it for way more than I thought you could.
I also got a lesson in grinding paint and mixing it. There are, like, about a dozen different kinds of oil you can use... it boggles my brain. And even a way to combine it with a water-base material instead of oil so it's less toxic.
A lesson in mixing raised paste and enamel. A lesson in painting with gold, the different kinds of gold and which need to be burnished afterwards.
A lesson on lustres.
A lesson in how to use a pen to write/draw with gold or paint.
...and an ongoing reminder of the highly toxic nature of this particular kind of art. Apparently arsenic is the medium mixed with gold (when you paint with it in this state, it looks like a dark greenish-black -> the darker it is, the higher quality of gold). You burnish it with a fibreglass brush (so don't breath, don't touch it with your bare hands, don't let the dust get anywhere or go down the sink). Some of the other ingredients are tin oxide, turpentine, alcohol, there is lead in some paints, so you can only use those paints on decorative objects (not plates/cups/etc), and you can use hydrochloric acid to remove paint that has been fired on.
Also, when the kiln is on, you need really good airflow and an air purifier because all those toxic things (and the oils) get burned off.
And a lesson in cost. One tiny 1/2 oz container of ruby lustre is about $65. A container of gold about the same size is around $500. Brushes can cost up to a couple hundred dollars each (depending what kind).
After all that, are you surprised I actually had time to paint anything?
I did a pair of mugs. First thing I did was wash them good with hot water and soap, then rubbed them down with alcohol. After that, I used a .01 Micron pen to draw a basic design. With a tiny paintbrush, I then filled in the shapes (to mask them) with an interesting glue-y product called red resist. When that dried, I dripped tiny drops of honey-thick lustre (blue, green & amber) onto the mugs, and with an eye-dropper, put turpentine on and rubbed with my finger to mix them. Then I held/turned the mugs and let the lustre run every which way to create interesting patterns.
When the lustre was dry, I peeled off the red resist and fired them.
Japanese Sumi-e painting) because of the strong, confident strokes (there is no room for error) and I thought something like that might go well with the freeness of the lustres.
It's been so long since I've painted on porcelain and it's such an alien medium (especially trying to paint on a rounded surface), so I am happy with this first attempt, but honestly, I'm not sure if I like or hate the end result. I think if I had stuck with the lighter-coloured lustres (and not used dark green on the second round), I would have been a bit happier.
Here's the picture I used as inspiration for the birds/poses on the first mug, then I just kind of switched everything up with different poses but kept the same colour scheme so they're a matched set.
If I ever got published, I'd probably sign books that way too. I'm lazy that way ;) Well actually my handwriting is unreadable (even to me) so my actual signature just looks like an ugly scribble. It's not even consistent.
Ah, I just noticed. On the bottom of the mug, you can also see I didn't clean off all the lustre properly. I'll probably take care of that with hydrochloric acid, but because the bottom rim is unglazed, I'm not sure how well it'll take it off.
A small job for another day :)
...and that's what I did last week. How about you guys? What were you up to?
* Because my grandmother has had a long and varied artistic history, there were everything from watercolour brushes, ones for acrylic painting, oil painting, porcelain dolls, chinese brushes, etc. all mixed in with the brushes for porcelain painting. I ended up throwing out more than half the brushes and 'donating' a large handful of watercolour brushes to my teacher for her grandkids to use since she generously put up with me for three straight days :)