Thursday, November 6, 2008

Eos Kidnaps Tithonus: Adventures in Classical Greek black-figure and red-figure designs (Painted Enamels)

And now for something completely different!
I have always been enamoured of Classical Greek pottery. I like the stylisation better than the classical realism - to me it is much more evocative. I wanted to play with the process a little before branching out on my own (which is invariably my practice) so I have a few designs to start with. The first is Eos 'Kidnaps Tithonis'.

painted enamel Eos and Tithonus
The original was in red-figure ware, but I decided to try it as if it was black-figure ware first
I started with three coats of the colour on each side. The circle has a 4" circumference. I know it's not really red, but a colour called Chamois.

painted enamel Eos and Tithonus
Then I used a stencil (which I made myself out of 100% rag vellum) and a very thin coating of Opalescent white fines (the finest grains of enamel usually used for painting) This served two purposes - it gave me a ground on which my paint would be less likely to crackle (this usually happens when you fire a fine grind enamel over a regular grind one)

painted enamel Eos and Tithonus
Then I scratched through the sifted enamel (sgrafitto) to add details

painted enamel Eos and Tithonus
I forgot to take a picture of the opalescent fines after firing - but here you can see it in the areas I haven't painted yet.

painted enamel Eos and Tithonus
Then I painted the skin a light cream colour. Both the black and the cream are finely ground enamel suspended in an oil medium.

painted enamel Eos and Tithonus
Because of the opalescent undercoat - the firing looks almost exactly the same before and after firing.(except the first looks matte and the second shiny!)

painted enamel Eos and Tithonus
I added the border and details in a final layer, which I again scratched to add details

painted enamel Eos and Tithonus
Final Fire

Then I did it as red-figure ware - using the same stencil
painted enamel Eos and Tithonus
Opalescent fines fired.

painted enamel Eos and Tithonus
This time I painted it all in one go - but after I had painted the clothing and wings I dusted it (while wet) with a fine layer of transparent red fines. Then I went on and did the cream coloured skin and the border (which I sgrafittoed)

painted enamel Eos and Tithonus
One firing for the paint worked well, and my transparent fines added a nice mottled texture to the robes.

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