Morgan
About Author
November 20, 2020
 in 
Artwork

Sculpting the Leaves for Ceramics on Canvas

On Making Ceramic Leaves

I decided early on that I would not constrict myself to following the rules of nature... "these leaves go with these flowers in the real world." Instead, I mix and match and glaze the leaves and flowers in unconventional ways. The leaves, flowers, triangles and circles become my art supplies withwhich I make my finished artwork.

Ceramic leaves start with... real leaves! I tried making leaves from scratch, but it just didn't have the look I wanted. So I went out into the garden, woods, house landscaping, and local Serenbe farm to collect leaves to press. My garden in June has a wide variety of leaves from which to choose:

I love how the wild flowers rise above the cascading squash vines and nasturtium. Hiding in there is a tiny fig tree, too.

The first step is to roll out the clay. I usually flatten it with a slab roller, but most of my first leaves were rolled out with an old fashioned rolling pin. I love my slab roller now! It is so efficient and evenly distributes the clay.

I press the leaves into the clay with a rolling pin.

I am careful not to press them into the clay too deeply, or the leaf can press all the way through.

I cut the leaves out. Here you can see one of my helpers cutting them out for me (this almost never happens, ha ha ha).

"Studio apprentice" cutting out pressed leaves

Next, I pinch or texture the edges of the cut out leaves with my fingers or ceramic tools. For the jagged edge leaves like blackberry or rose, I like to use my scoring tool.

The leaf is still flat at this point, so I transform it into its final shape by making it 3D and forming it into a leaf form. I try to make each leave a little different... or a lot different.

Finally, drill holes into the leaves for sewing and let them dry.

The leaves get bisque fired at cone 05. After firing and cooling, they are ready to glaze.

Bisque-fired and ready to glaze

Most leaves get at least 3 layers of glaze before high-firing to a beautiful finish. I fill my big basket with warm leaves and bring them to my shelf where they stand ready for any project. I really use this basket - it's not just for the picture. ha ha ha! It makes it so much easier to bring them from the kiln in the garage to my sewing room upstairs.

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