Aug 08

Mosaic Terra Cotta Pot

I’ve had this terra cotta pot under my studio table for just about a year, waiting for the project I wanted to do with it.  Finally, I decided that I needed a pot for some succulents, so now was the time.

I started by coming up with a short phrase to put around the lip. This is really hard for me, despite being a writer, because nothing seems good enough to immortalize in ceramic.  The phrase reads “Let the sun shine, the Earth bursts forth with life!”  I got the letter spacing better this time, because I drew out the length of the circumference of the pot lid on scrap newsprint, and therefore had a rough estimate of the space requirements for each word. I used the french liner raised slip to outline each letter and then began to apply the low fire glaze.

Why do I always forget how *($^%# time consuming those %^$#$%! low fired glazes are?  It probably took me four hours just to glaze the rim, and it’s not even as even as I wanted it.  At least listening to “This American Life” while I paint makes the time pass swiftly.

After I fired the pot, I started to design the tile mosiac.  I used a stencil of art deco  flower designs from a book I’ve had forever and enlarged it for the flower design.  I cut the petals out of clear glass and used acrylic medium to paste some really cool art paper onto the back. After the acrylic dried, I applied more on the back. Then I cut out around the glass with a razor blade.

I laid the flowers down on my sketch of the surface area, and went through the stained glass I had to decide on colors. I have a nice collection of stained glass, but becuase I got them in a bulk purchase from a non-standard location, they’re all opaque hand-made art glass. Ridiculously expensive when you buy it most of the time, but I got an incredible discount. Ironically, I don’t like it much. I prefer cathedral glass.  Still, the blue was nice, and I had several different colors of it that resembled one another, so I cut out chunks. The chunks are about half an inch square.  I cut the stems out of a light green glass.  When I was done, I realized that I needed more to fill the middle area, so I cut out the leaves from dark green glass.

For the bottom, I went through the tiles I’d made earlier. You can see some of them on this site.  I wanted to use the leaf tiles on the flower stems, but they didn’t look right. I have a lot of the circle tiles, not because they work well in the design (I think they’re hard to use) but because they’re easy to make.  I think that looked okay.

I probably spent about eight to ten hours on this project, including mastic and grouting. (It took at least an hour just to clean the grout off the tiles.)  Am I happy with it? No.  It doesn’t look as colorful as I wanted it to.  I think that black grout would have helped. I should have used an opaque glaze on the rim.  The blue squares are too big, and I couldn’t fit them as tightly as I wanted to.  Also, the succulents I bought are in tiny containers, so I put a different plant (a piece of columnular cactus) in there instead.

Still, it holds a plant, so it’s not a complete loss.

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