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Creativity Art Blog

Art & Crafting Hints, Tips & Discussion

  • What to Know About Ceramics

    Everything you wanted to know about clay, and its other forms

     

    What is Clay

    Clay is made up of the finest rock particles that are eroded by wind and rain. These particles usually build up on the bottom of rivers and lakes where they stick together and form into clay consistency. Clay is a very versatile material and has several different states from liquid to rock-like hardness.

    What is Ceramics

    Ceramic is the ‘final’ state of clay, when its chemical composition changes after being put through a high temperature firing. Clay in this form is no longer dissolves in water, it’s heat resistant, corrosion resistant but still brittle.

    Important Terms

    • Wet Clay - mixed clay that is elastic and ready to be formed.
    • Leather-hard - the stage of the drying process when the clay is hard enough to be handled without altering its shape but it's still possible to work with it.
    • Greenware - the sate of the clay when it's dry but still not ready to be fired.
    • Bone dry - fully dried clay that is ready to be fired. at this stage the clay is very brittle.
    • Bisque - the first firing, that makes the surface porous so the surface can absorb the glaze.
    • Grog - a sand-like substance that's added to the clay to help workability, to reduce shrinkage and add strength.

    Classes of Clay Body

    There are many different types of clays available, and it’s important to chose the best for your projects, as each type has different qualities, and what works for pottery might not be the best for sculpting.

    Earthenware

       

    Earthenware clays are the oldest and most common type of clay. They are easy to work with, and because they contain iron and other minerals it’s possible to be fired at a lower temperature (between 950°C and 1100°C). This means that they are more fragile than other clay types, can’t really hold liquids if unglazed, but glaze colours are a lot more vivid than stoneware ceramics’.

    Naturally they are red, orange, yellow or light gray, and once fired they have a brown, red, orange, buff, gray or white colour.

    Stoneware

    Stoneware clays share similarities with stone once fired – as in hard surface. Stoneware ceramics are excellent for functional items like dinnerware, as they can hold liquids and are more durable. Their firing temperature ranges from 1180 °C to 1280 °C. Stoneware clays are usually gray or brown.

    Porcelain

    Porcelain and kaolin are considered the best type of clays for pottery. They are largely made up of silicate and are resistant to high temperatures. As porcelain is made up of fine particles, it’s very smooth and can be used to create extremely thin forms. It’s relatively difficult to work with because of its low plasticity. It’s also quite delicate before firing as its optimum density is only achieved before its melting point. Porcelain’s firing temperature is up to 1,400 °C. It’s characteristically white or light coloured unless it’s been mixed.

    Forming

    • Slab Building - Slab building is a technique where the clay slabs are rolled or pounded flat in order to use them for constructing objects.

    • Hand-building - Hand-building is quite literally forming objects out of clay with your hands. Clay portraits are a good example of purely hand-made forms.

    • Coiling - Coiling is a good beginner technique that's suitable for both pottery and sculpture. Coiled pots are built up with rolled up clay in a spiral. Read more 

    • Throwing - Throwing means the technique of using a pottery wheel that keeps the clay spinning, thus making it possible to create symmetrical vessels.

    Firing

    There are two main types of firing, Bisque firing and Glaze firing. Bisque firing is the first firing the clay goes through after it reached the ‘bone dry’ stage. During bisque firing all the chemicals and organic residue burn out of the clay. After this first firing the clay becomes ceramic; it hardens into a rock-like consistency that’s no longer dissolves in water. Its surface becomes porous, perfect for the glaze to adhere to.

    Shrinkage

    It’s worth knowing that clay shrinks when it dries and then when it’s fired for the first time. Shrinkage depends on the specific type of clay and can vary between 4% to 15%

    Glazing

    Ceramic glazes come in many different colours and types, from transparent to opaque, matt or glossy, cracking or metal effect.

    While you can experiment a lot with different combinations, there are some basics to note.

    Glazes are basically glass melted onto the ceramic object. In order to stick evenly to the surface, glass is mixed with different components and binders. Glazes come in powder form that you need to mix yourself and as liquids that are ready to use.

    In general glazes not only add colour or ‘shine’ to your pieces, but makes the ceramic object vitreous, and seals the clay so it becomes able to hold liquids and depending on the glaze, food safe.

    Glaze Firing

    Glaze firing is usually done in a higher temperature than bisque, and it finishes the process of making a ceramic object. It’s a faster firing process than bisque as by this time the clay body doesn’t contain as much water; what happens during glaze firing is that the glass melts and solidifies on the object. It’s important that the glazed object doesn’t touch other objects or the surface of the kiln as it will be glued together. To avoid this, make sure to place each object at least an inch apart, and to leave the parts that touch the kiln unglazed. You can either use wax to leave unglazed surfaces or just wipe off the excess with a wet sponge.

     

    If you want to try ceramics in Dundee, make sure to check out the Dundee Ceramics Workshop!

    References

    https://skutt.com/skutt-resources/basic-knowledge/ceramics/ceramics-101/

    http://www.lakesidepottery.com/Pages/Pottery-tips/choosing-the-right-clay-type.htm

    http://www.lakesidepottery.com/Pages/Pottery-tips/Throwing-a-pot-Lakeside-Pottery-Tutorial.htm

    https://www.artistsandillustrators.co.uk/how-to/sculpture/252/beginners-guide-to-sculpting-in-clay

  • Bookbinding Techniques 5. - Single Sheet Binding

    Single Sheet Binding

    This technique suites best when you have lots of individual sheets (or drawings, paintings, etc.) that you would like to combine into one book. It's a relatively easy technique and quite similar to coptic stitch.

    Supplies

    • Paper
    • Board
    • Booktape (optional)
    • Thread
    • Binding needles
    • Awl
    • Scissors
    • Cutting mat

    The Method Step by Step

    photos from Sea Lemon's video

    Optionally, you can use booktape on the edge of the paper where you’ll be binding in order to secure the paper from tearing.

    Measure about 13mm from the edge of the paper then mark three holes 2cm apart. Do the same on the other side.

    Then pierce the holes.

    The same on the cover.

    For this technique it is recommended to use bend needle – 6 needles to be exact, as each of the six holes will be bound with an individual thread.

    When beginning the binding start with the first hole on the first sheet,

    Come back around

    And tie a knot in the end.

    Go around to the first hole of the cover.

    Loop around the thread

    Repeat the same with the other holes.

    Beginning the second sheet with the first hole. Loop it around the paper,

    And then loop around the thread.

    Do the same with the remaining holes, then continue it until you reach the cover.

    Binding the cover is pretty much the same as binding the sheets.

    Loop around the first hole,

    Loop around the previous stitch,

    And back around the stitch once more through to the inside,

    And try a knot on the inside thread.

    Cut the excess thread, and repeat the same method with the remaining holes.

    And it’s finished!

  • Bookbinding Techniques 4. - Japanese binding

    What is Japanese Stab Binding?

    Japanese stab binding patterns are great for a simple, minimalist book design. As it won't be able to lay flat when it's open, it's ideal for display purposes. One of it's advantages, however, is that it's possible to add, take out or change the order of the sheets even after binding, therefore it's the ideal bookbinding pattern for photo albums and recipe books or collections.

    There are four major binding patterns.

    The Noble Binding ( Koki Toji)

    The Tortoise-shell binding (Kikko Toji)

    The Hemp-leaf binding (Asa-No-Ha-Toji)

    And the Four-hole binding (Yotsume Toji)

    In this guide, you'll learn how to do the 'beginner' pattern, the Four-hole binding.

    You’ll need:

    Pencil

    Cutting mat

    Ruler

    Binder clips

    Awl

    Materials:

    Paper

    Waxed thread

    Method: Step by Step

     

    Four images might not be enough to get it for the first time, but it is an easy technique!
    (Images from Sea Lemon's tutorial video)

    Make a template for the binding holes using a sheet of paper that’s the same size as your book.  First make a 1inch line from the spine’s edge, then fold the paper in half  three times. Unfold the paper and mark the place of four holes spaced like on the photo.

    Put the template on your book if it’s thin enough or you can do it in separate sections.

    Use an awl to make holes into the paper where you marked it on the template.

    It’s useful to clip the sheets together so they all stay together.

    For binding, you need to use a single thread without a knot at the end. Measure enough thread (around 5 times the height of your book, it’s better to have longer than to run out.)

    Take a portion of the book…

    and start from the bottom on the second hole.

    And leave about 4-5 inches ( 13 cm) at the end and leave it inside the book.

    Wrap it around to the bottom of the book and back through the same hole.

    Then comes the next hole…

    Wrap it around and go back through.

    When you reach the last hole wrap around and back through again

    Then wrap around the end and back through again.

    Make sure to keep the thread tight throughout!

    Next step is to weave through the following hole and always wrap around.

    Now you should be at the 2nd hole where you started from.

    And pull it through the last hole.

    Wrap around the back.

    Wrap around the end as you did the other side.

     

    And finish it with going back to the 2nd hole.

    Return the needle between the pages where the end of the thread is.

    Pull it through and tie the thread, cut the excess.

    And it’s finished!

     

    References & Photos:

    http://www.designsponge.com/2013/03/bookbinding-101-japanese-four-hold-binding.html

    https://tsubasa-no-kami.deviantart.com/art/Japanese-Stab-Stitch-Binding-246263261

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Screw-Post-Binding/

     

  • Bookbinding Techniques 3. - Coptic Stitch

    Coptic Stitch

    Coptic stitch works best when you're binding lots of sheets together, so the binding pattern is more visible on the spine. At first it seems to be a more difficult technique, but once you get the hang of it, it's not more difficult than any other.

    You'll need

    • paper
    • board
    • bone folder
    • awl
    • waxed thread
    • binding needle
    • scissors
    • craft knife

    Method step by step:

    (Photos from Sea Lemon's video tutorial) 

    Start with folding your papers in half, and use the bone folder to smooth down the edges.

    Put the folded sheets together to create a signature (about four folded sheets makes up one signature)

    Stack the signatures evenly and mark the first hole about 5-6 cms  from the end of the paper, then mark two more 2,5 cm apart. Do the same thing on the other side.

    Pierce the holes on the cover board

    And on the signatures.

    Depending on the size of your book and the thread you use, you can double thread or use a single thread. Make sure to tie the end.

    You start from the bottom cover and one signature. Sew from the inside of the signature to the outside.

    And around and outside of the cover.

    Loop around the thread

    Then back to the signature through the same hole.

    Back to the next hole

    Around the cover

    Then loop around and back to the signature. Do the same with every hole.

    When you reach the last hole on the signature, loop around then grab the next signature and return the needle to the first hole.

    Go through the next hole

    Loop around

    The previous signature’s thread.

    Then back into the same hole

    And into the next hole. Repeat on the remaining holes.

    When you have the third signature, you make sure when you loop around the previous signature’s thread

    When you only have the last signature and the top cover left, you’ll be working with both.

    Start with the first hole on the cover

    Loop the around the same thread once

    And in the signature

    For the remaining stitches, loop around the previous signature first,

    Then into the cover

    Loop around the thread, then back into the signature.
    Repeat for the remaining holes.

    Once you’re finished, just tie the thread.

     

    References

    • Coptic Stitch Sketchbook by Sea Lemon
    • http://www.tortagialla.com/2010/08/16/chain-or-coptic-stitch-bookbinding-tutorial/
    • //www.clothpaperscissors.com/wp-content/uploads/Coptic-Stitch-PDF.pdf
    • http://www.making-mini-scrapbooks.com/copticbinding.html

     

     

     

     

     

  • Bookbinding Techniques 2. - Concertina

    Concertina, or Accordion Fold Book

    Folding-out booklets are not only good for interesting ways to sketch, but perfect for display purposes as well. And it's not too difficult to make on your own!

    What You'll Need:

    Tools:

    • Bonefolder
    • Ruler
    • Brush
    • Scissors or craft knife

    Materials:

    • 2 Bookboards
    • Bookcloth
    • 2 sheets of paper
    • PVA glue

     

    Method:

    cut two long rectangles that are the same size.

    Fold them in half,

    ... then fold them like an accordion.

    until you have a "W" shape.

    If you want more sheets, you can make as many accordion fold as you want to, and you can just attach them together with glue.

    To make the covers, get two sheets of heavier paper/cardboard/bookboards that are slightly bigger than your folded booklet. If you want to cover it with bookcloth of paper, cut rectangles that are a few cms/inches bigger than the cover.

    Cut the edges of the paper/cloth...

    ... then glue them and fold them inside.

    This is how it should look outside and inside:

    Glue the inside of the cover and attach the first sheet of your accordion booklet.

    And it's finished!

    You can try making the book with watercolour or any other paper for sketching, or you can make a photo album, or something crazy that fits into an artist book.

    References and Photos:

  • Guide to Choosing Paper

    Different Types of Paper and Their Use

    There are so many different papers available, and often they look quite similar. If you aren't sure what paper is the most suitable for your work, you might find this guide helpful.

    For a brief history of paper, click here 

    Paper sizes and Measurements

    The common sizing system in Europe is called ISO 216, where the paper's weight is expressed in grammes per square metre (gsm). The biggest unit is A0 (1189 x 841 mm).

    In the US, paper sizes are based on customary units. 

    There are seven main Paper categories:

    • Printing Papers
    • Wrapping papers
    • Writing papers
    • Drawing papers
    • Handmade papers
    • Specialty papers

    Pastel Paper

       

    (click on the pictures for more details!) 

     

    The best weight for pastel paper is at least 175 gsm, heavy cartridge or lightweight watercolour paper.

    For mixed media techniques, a rough-surface watercolour paper (that has been painted) still has enough tooth for soft pastels.


    There are many different papers that are suitable for pastels, from very coarse to very smooth. Ingres paper has a ‘laid’ effect, meaning that one side the grains produce fine liner while the other is slightly blotchy.

    The reason why there are a great selection of pre-coloured paper for pastels, is because pastels never really cover the whole surface, therefore leaving a few gaps (that aren’t shockingly white) is a standard use. Having a dominant coloured surface is also useful to determine the ‘atmosphere’ of the whole picture and create a unity of colours, as a deep reddish colour will give a warm tone, while blues are helpful to achieve a subtle, moody effect.

    Cartridge Paper

    • Generally used for drawing, but it’s also good with paint, pens and markers, as well as with pastels, crayons or inks.
    • It’s available in different weighs, depending on the used technique (heavier for paint, lighter for drawing)
    • it can also be used to make simple  models.

     

    Watercolour Paper

    There are three main weighs of watercolour paper:

    • 190gsm - 'student grade', as it's pretty lightweight, requires stretching, and can't endure lots of scrubbing
    • 300gsm - 'standard' type of paper, it takes paint ell, but still better to stretch to avoid buckling. dries quickly and medium priced.
    • 638gsm - it's almost like a board, therefore doesn't require stretching, but takes longer to dry.

     

     

    more about Watercolour paper: https://www1.iartsupplies.co.uk/blog/watercolour-paper-101

    Printmaking Paper

    Printmaking paper is specific to printmaking techniques, because it has to be able to take soaking, absorb ink, and take multiple runs through a press without disintegration or deformation.
    For this purpose, they are made with a so-called archival fabric, that means it contains cotton (in Europe) or mulberry bark (in Japan)

    Tracing Paper

    • thin, translucent paper
    • 60 - 90 gsm
    • it's used for making copies of drawings, or tracing a pencil sketch onto canvas for instance

    Recommended Videos:

    Selecting Art Paper

    Arches Printmaking Papers & How to Evaluate Your Paper

    Watercolor Paper Comparison - Arches, Fabriano and Canson - Beginners Which Paper to Choose?

    How to Pick Great Watercolor Paper

    References:

    • http://www.how-to-draw-and-paint.com/pastel-paper.html
    • http://www.dickblick.com/printmaking/papers/
    • https://rbms.info/vocabularies/paper/th343.htm
    • https://rubiks.ca/EN/resource-center/useful-printing-tips/26-american-paper-sizes--what-are-the-american-paper-sizes-how-to-convert-paper-sizes.html
    • http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/design/graphics/materialsandcomponentsrev1.shtml
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_size
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammage
  • Posca Paint Markers

    Possibly one of the most versatile water-based paint marker pens?

    Posca Pens are great permanent paint markers that come in many different sizes, shapes and colours.

    They are great for many art practices, from sketching to more specific surfaces like glass, rocks or fabrics.

    Read more to find out what else they are capable of!

    How to use Posca Pens:

    The Posca Paint markers contain opaque, fluid paint that is quite similar to acrylic paint. Even light colours can be painted on darker shades without loosing their effect. Colours can also be blended, with your fingers or with brushes. For a watercolour effect, work with wet brushes.

    The markers all have water based ink, that’s non-toxic, therefore you can use them on your skin if you prefer, as well as suitable for children’s use.

    The paint dries very quickly, but required a few minutes on less porous surfaces. They are also permanent, or can be made permanent on all surfaces.

    Available sizes and tips

    The Posca Pens are not refillable, but it’s possible to change the tips. PC-1M, PC-3M, PC-5M, PC-8K and PC-17K have replaceable tips, but generally they all can be reversed.
    If the tip dries, it can be simply taken out by pulling and rinsed with water.

    On rocks, helmets, surf boards, guitars, skateboards, shoes, polymer clay, T-shirts, skin, asphalt,

    Pavement art

    T-shirts and textiles

    Walls

     

    Mugs, ceramics

    Making Posca Permanent:

    Instructions for making Posca pens permanent on different surfaces:

    • Paper/Card: No action needed - Posca pigment will be absorbed into the fibres, making it permanent.
    • Terracotta: Bake in the oven at 220°C for 45 minutes, then spray with clear varnish.
    • Textiles: Iron on the reverse side.
    • Porcelain: Bake in oven at 160°C for 45 minutes, optionally spray with clear varnish.
    • Metal: Spray with clear varnish.
    • Glass: Bake in oven at 160°C for 45 minutes, then spray with clear varnish.
    • Wood: Spray with clear varnish.
    • Plastic: Spray with clear varnish.

    Test results of Posca Pen on different surfaces: http://www.posca.com/sites/default/files/test-results-posca_7.pdf

    What type of varnish is suitable for Posca Pens?

    Clear acrylic based varnish for paper, canvas

    Durable polyurethane varnish (for guitars, wood, metal, plastic, glass, cars, stone, canvas)

    References and Photos:

    https://www.kusuyama.jp/blog/lifestyle/ultimate-guide-posca-markers

    http://www.posca.com/uk/all-material-markers/instructions-for-use

    http://www.posca.com/uk/all-material-markers/materials-and-tips

    https://www.ellawebb.co.uk

    Videos

    Posca Water-based Pigment Ink Markers

    Posca Pen Sunset on rocks

    Blending with Posca Pens

    Posca Pens on textile 

    Wall painting with Posca Pens

    Posca Pens on mug / ceramics

    Posca Pen drawing on Tshirt

    Posca Pens on wood 

    Varnishes to use on Posca Pens

  • Bookbinding Techniques - The Basics

    Make your own sketchbooks with this guide!

    General Terms and Tools

    Signature - is a set of papers folded in half once.
    Book block - is a set of signatures glued or sewn together; they make up the inside of the book.
    Endpapers - are the signatures attached to the front and the back covers.
    Headband / tailband - is a band looped around a strip of leather or rope.
    Hinge - is the part of the book near the spine where the book folds open
    Rib - Ribs are the thickening part of the spine - they are either created naturally by the ropes holding together the book block, or by using plastic 'fake' ribs.

    bonefolder
    bodkin
    sewing needles
    waxed thread

     

    Bookbinding types

    In the following articles we'll introduce you the these popular bookbinding techniques:

    Pamphlet binding

    Coptic binding

    Japanese binding

    Concertina

    History

    The first books were clay tablets from around 3800 BC Babylon era. Other different materials included Palm books made out of palm leaves or strips of bark.

    The next major type was the papyrus roll or scroll. These were made out of plant stems that were cut into fibre strips, soaked in the Nile and dried. After that they were hammered into sheets and whitened with ivory. They were really brittle, and could only be stored rolled up.

    Clay Tablet

    Wax tablets were another commonly used writing surface in Antiquity. They were made out of wood. Covered with a layer of wax, making it reusable and portable.

    Wax tablet and a Roman stylus

    The paper we think about nowadays was invented in China around 200 BC. The manufacture process was adopted by the Arabs and thus gradually spread to the west. The first paper mill in England was established in 1496 near Stevenage.

    A palm leaf Hindu text manuscript
    St Cuthbert's Gospel, the oldest surviving Western binding

    Bookbinding and paper was revolutionised by the invention of printing presses and printing, the invention of German Johannes Gutenberg (1456).

    The first printer in England, William Caxton, followed in less then twenty years.

    As printing increased the number of books, binding became a separate occupation. The 16th century saw the golden age of book covers as new fine tools made it possible to create exquisite designs.

     

    Contemporary use:

    Fine art/ artist books
    Handmade sketchbooks, journals
    Repair of antique books

    References

    • http://www.bookbinding.co.uk/City%20&%20Guilds%20Course%20Notes/July%202014%20Inroductory%20Lesson.pdf
    • http://www.studentbookbinding.co.uk/blog/types-of-binding
    • https://issuu.com/casatallerlasartesdellibro/docs/bookbinding--a-manual-of-techniques----pamela-rich
  • Bookbinding Techniques 1. - Make a Pamphlet

    Pamphlet Binding

    In the series of Bookbinding Techniques, the first one introduces the Pamphlet binding. This is a good beginner technique that is also a classic  - with a few easy stitches you have a small booklet, which is also the base for more advanced techniques.

    You will need:

    Method:

    Before stating the booklet, it's a good idea to make a template that you can use to determine the position of the holes on each folio(paper folded in half). Grab a piece of paper that's exactly the same length as the 'spine' of your folio. Measure 3, 4 or 5 holes (2 towards the top and 2 towards the bottom of the spine) depending on the length of your paper. Then pierce the paper where you marked it with the awl or an embroidery needle. Next, you can place the template and pierce each folio with the help of the template.

     

    The stitch with 3 holes 

    Pierce three holes using the template.

    Measure the thread that should be three times the length of your signature ( multiple folios that you want to stitch together). Pull the thread through the 2nd hole, but don't tie a knot on the end yet.

    Continue towards the 1st hole, as show on the photo below.

     

    Next you want to pull the tread out at the 3rd hole...

    ... then pull the thread through the 2nd hole again. Tighten the thread and

    And lastly, tie the thread around the one running along the spine and then cut off the excess thread.

    Pamphlet stitch is a great beginner technique, and it's good for poetry or artist books or zines. You can also use many different types of paper for this technique, from transfer paper to watercolour.

     

    References and Photos:

    • http://www.designsponge.com/2013/03/bookbinding-101-five-hole-pamphlet-stitch.html
    • https://www.loc.gov/preservation/resources/educational/bookarts/pamphlet.pdf
    • http://www.reframingphotography.com/content/book-making-pamphlet-stitch-book

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