Originally I had wanted to follow up on my prior post, Exploring Rochester: Neighborhood of the Arts. Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t been cooperative lately for outdoor explorations. It’s either been blazing hot or raining. Instead, I will take you inside my studio and give you a little peek at how my mini monsters are made.
All mini monsters begin their life as a piece of stoneware or porcelain. After wedging a chunk of clay, I pinch a piece off and roll it into a ball. From there, I begin shaping each ball into a monster with a variety of tools and my fingers.
I have a few different styles of mini monsters that I make. Some have rounded bellies or pointy ears or bulbous noses. Sometimes I start a monster with a specific design in mind but the clay has other ideas and it becomes something different.
Once I’ve finished sculpting a mini monster, I let them dry for a few days and then I clean them up with a wet sponge.
Once the monsters are completely dry, they go through a bisque firing.
After the bisque firing, I begin the glazing process. Mini monsters get a black underglaze in their face outlines, hands and belly buttons (yes, some of them have belly buttons). I then glaze each of the whites of their eyes (and tails if they have one) with a tiny brush. Once the outlines and eyes are done, I select their body colors and apply the glaze. I typically apply 2-3 coats depending on the glaze I’m using.
Once all the pieces are glazed, I load them into the kiln. I have bead racks and bead trees I hang them from.
I turn the kiln on and fire it until it reaches Cone 6, around 2200F. With this small kiln, it can take 6-9 hours depending on how full it is. I’m planning on purchasing a larger kiln later this summer so that I can fire more work (both large & small pieces) and be more efficient.
While the kiln is firing, I usually start new pieces. The other day I was making figurines while the kiln was on.
The following day I head back to the studio and unload the kiln.
It’s a great feeling when everything goes well and all the pieces turn out. You never know with ceramics.
And now you know where mini monsters come from!