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New Bern NC Bench by Janet Francoeur

In ceramics things can be more complicated than they first appear!

New Bern NC Bench by Janet Francoeur – A couple years ago when we were at UNC Hospital I saw benches in the garden. I knew immediately who did the metal work, one of our artists (we used to carry) at Carolina Creations, and sure enough when I called Cindy, she said yes, they had built the bench and a potter from Chapel Hill had made the tiles.

BLOG BENCH

I asked her to make two of them for me. Cindy said they wanted to make a few changes on the design and after a few months they arrived at our studio. That was a funny story in itself. These benches weigh A LOT! They are made of heavy gauge steel, zinc galvanized to prevent rusting,  painted with high quality marine grade epoxy paints, and like I said are heavy.

The trucker got them off the truck and onto the sidewalk. After some head scratching Michael and I got out two hand trucks and we managed to inch both of the benches closer to the studio door. It was a lot of work and we finally sat down on one of them to rest. Just then two young ladies came along and said “do you need some help?” They picked up each of the benches and carried them into the studio!

Then our lives got really complicated and they have been sitting in our entryway ever since. I’m finally at the point that I can tackle them. On one of the benches I decided to do a new bern scene like I’ve done for some back splashes and platters. The only problem is I use earthenware for the back splashes and platters – and it won’t hold up outside in freezing and thawing conditions.

So you would think I would just go and get other clay. It’s not that easy. There are lots of kinds of clay and they all are not appropriate for tile making. So you have to do a lot of testing, will they fire flat? Will my glazes hold their color at a higher temperature? If there is too much grog in it will I be able to draw a straight line?

Well the first clay I tried had way too much grog in it, I couldn’t get a smooth enough surface to draw on. I’ll use that clay to make some totems with. So I eventually bought 4 different kinds of clay and finally found one I liked.

The clay shrinks as it dries then more again when fired so I had to figure the shrinkage out. The people that blend the clay give you a shrinkage rate but like everything in ceramics you need to do your own testing.

BLOG RULER

I rolled out a strip of clay and marked it off by 1/2 inch increments. Then I could use that to measure the bench opening to see how big my clay slab needed to be (also considering room for grout lines between the tiles).

So you can see in this photo that from wet to being fired to cone 5 it had shrunk by a whole inch . 

I made a test of my underglazes to see how the color holds up at the hotter cone 5. Usually the reds burn out but these Spectrum underglazes seemed to hold up. I had to find a clear glaze to go over my underglazes, since the one I’m used to using will not fire to the cone 5 that I need. I glazed half of the tiles with the cone 5 clear gloss and half with cone 5 clear matt. The right side is gloss the left mat, I like the gloss better. In some glazes you can’t see any difference in others you can.

BLOG GLAZE TEST

I got the tiles made….

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dried them, fired them to cone 04 then I drew the image onto the tiles with pencil…then colored with underglazes…

bench tiles

then covered them with clear glaze and fired to cone 5, which is the vitrification temperature of this particular clay.

Vitrification is the hardening, tightening and finally the partial glassification of the clay. Vitrification results from fusions or melting of the various components of the clay. The strength of fired clay is increased by the formation of new crystalline growth within the clay body, particularly the growth of mullite crystals. Mullite is an aluminum silicate characterized by a long needlelike crystal. These lace the structure together, giving it cohesion and strength. (from The Big Ceramic Store Website)

Then there is the issue of attaching the tiles to the bench. I needed to build up the base and was not comfortable attaching them directly to the metal so I used Wedi Board, Wedi Board is lightweight, easy to cut, and a completely waterproof tile backer board.

I attached the Wedi Board to the bench with a urethane adhesive…I had to figure out what was the best for that – it had to be suitable for a wet application and outdoors.

…then I covered the board with adhesive and attached the tiles leaving even (well kind of even) grout lines.

Once the adhesive had dried I applied grout that I treated for outdoor use.

And DONE! It only took me a couple years to do.

Like I said, things sometimes are more complicated than they first appear.

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New Paintings, Calendar, and Christmas Card

I know some of you have already seen these images on Facebook so sorry for repeating. I want to thank you all for receiving my blog updates!

For the past 10+ years I have done a calendar of New Bern scenes.It’s small, a desktop calendar in a CD case. Here are this years images. Some I am also doing prints of and all originals are available. I’m trying to get enough new work for a show at Carolina Creations of paintings from my travels and New Bern paintings but decided I’d go ahead and show these now, I’ll just have to do new ones for the show!

City Hall and Jarvis
Oil – Gothic Cottage Metcalf Street
Oil – Going Fast
Watercolor – Carolina Creations
Watercolor – City Hall and Baxter Clock
Oil – Gate on Craven St
Oil – Johnson Street
Oil – top of New Bern
Watercolor – Benjamin Ellis Bed and Breakfast
Watercolor – David Congdon House
New Bern on Pottery

The Calendar in its case measures 5″ x 5 1/2″. Here is a link to them on my blog. https://janetfrancoeurfineart.blog/product/2019-desk-calendar/
Thank you for being interested in my work! This year I am feeling really inspired and am producing a lot ot new work. I can’t wait to show you.


And here is my Christmas card for this year.

Jan’s 2019 New Bern Christmas card.

And a link to them. https://janetfrancoeurfineart.blog/product/new-bern-christmas-card-for-2019/

I hope you have a wonderful day! – Jan Francoeur

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More custom Celebration Pottery pieces

One day (years ago) a customer asked me to put names on a platter for a wedding, that was just the start!

Since them I’ve done hundreds of churches with names and dates on tiles and platters…

CC12CC10CC3

houses…

CC9

CC5

 

baby sets…
baby1baby2baby3baby4

new bern scenes on things…pot2

CC8

 

 

special pieces given to visiting dignitaries….

CC7

back splash….
CC1
and lots more!

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How a piece comes together

I’m often asked to do commemorative pieces to be given as gifts for retirements, birthdays, weddings, etc. The piece I’m showing here was for someone whose career lasted over 30 years and she was involved in many of the projects that have shaped the way our downtown looks today.

First we started with a list of the projects…

pot8
…I took reference photos…


…I built this pot using slabs of clay…

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…bisque fired it to 1950 degrees…
…did rough sketches of the places that were to be included on the pot…


…figured out how they could work together on the piece…
…sketched them on the pot – btw the pencil lines burn out in the kiln…
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…using underglazes painted the image then outlined the image with black line…


…covered the entire pot with a clear glaze…
…fired it again, this time to 1911 degrees…
…and it’s done!
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A one of a kind, special gift.
If you have an idea for a special gift for someone let me know! In my next post I’ll show some other pieces I’ve done for people that aren’t quite so elaborate!

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Garden Sculpture in the works part 2

So instead of just finishing the sculpture I decided to also do a bird bath, so got the bowl for the top built and now letting it dry. Actually its not unusual to have many pieces going at once, since I’m building for out doors the pieces have to be somewhat robust (thick) so take a long time to dry. Even when I think they are dry – room temperature to the touch, the piece is cool to the touch if there is still moisture – I put them in the kiln and heat it to about 150 degrees and shut it off. I’ll do this a couple times until I put my head in and my glasses don’t steam up!

For the totem I decided to make 2 tops for now, a simple round topper and a bird. Both are in the drying stage.

My glaze samples all turned out – very unusual! These are Potters Choice glazes.

My favorites are

I think earthtones are more appropriate for outdoor sculptures so am going looking for a few more greens/yellows/browns. Of course I could always just fire this clay to vitrification with no glaze or just a clear glaze.

The neat, well one of the neat things about Steve’s technique is that I can add or take away components depending on how tall I want it to be (or how much money the customer wants to spend!).

 

 

 

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Celebration Pottery My Christmas Pottery Designs for 2018

Last year I was talked into doing Christmas Pottery. I did some and was really surprised at how it was received, I sold a LOT of it!! So this year I’ve come up with four newish designs.

But the best part was how happy people were that I had done it!

xmas 2017 santa and sleigh

Santa and sleigh

xmas pottery trees

Christmas Trees

xmas santa

Santa Face

xmas holly

Holly with Cardinal

A 9 1/2 ” plate   $32

Wavy Dish

Long Skinny Dish

Candy dish

Mug $26

Large Turkey Platter $94

thanksgivingI can do these pieces with names and dates on them for a small additional charge.

I won’t necessarily have every piece at Carolina Creations  at all times but you can say what you want and I’ll do it for you.