Metal and Clay: An Arts and Crafts-style combination

My favorite dinnerware combines porcelain and pewter. Porcelain plates, bowls, cups and serving dishes are edged with about one inch of pewter. The effect is magnificent. I like the idea of combining metal with clay. Several years ago, I made a dragonfly tile out of red clay. After it was finished, I looked at it and thought…hmmm, I think it needs an added touch. After studying it, I decided to finish the edges in copper. I debated whether I should use copper foil, as it comes in a variety of thicknesses. Then, I wondered how I would affix it to the tile. After doing a bit of research online, I decided to head down to a hobby store and to look at different products to get an idea about options. I ended up getting a concoction of liquid and ground copper. Never having done anything like this before, I simply went with a multi-purpose hobby product called an Patina Antiquing Set, made by a company called Modern Options. The examples I saw had the effect I wanted, but the subjects were kitschy. Anyway, I bought the smallest kit available and tried it out. It was a nice sunny day. After covering the picnic table with newspaper, tethering it with stones, and setting the umbrella in the correct position, I got to work. I used a pica pole left over from my graphic design days to measure my border and draw a graphite line around the tile. Then, I reread the directions on the kit, shook the bottle, opened it and started painting it on in long, even strokes. You have to shake the bottle every now and then to distribute the copper particles in the solution. The directions said to let it air dry before adding more coats. Because I was working outside, I was a bit concerned that a breeze would carry something along that would stick to the wet surface, like pollen or a bug. So, I placed a domed picnic net over it and that worked fine.  Next, I moved to the next stage, which would give the tile edge a verdigris look. Again, I followed the directions, and painted on the antiquing solution while the copper was still tacky. Then, I let that dry. My tile would be hung indoors and I wanted the surface to continue to age, so I didn’t seal mine, but the directions state that a water-based acrylic can be used to seal the aged copper finish. I am very happy with how it turned out and the patina contrasted nicely with the terracotta. I am going to frame it this summer with a frame I make of oak fumed in ammonia to give it that nice Arts and Crafts look. This project piqued my interest in combining clay and metal and I want to do more of it. I just happened to come across a good video that shows an example of using metal and clay, so I thought I’d show it to you. The music is kind of cheesy, so just turn it down if it bothers you, too. The materials used in the video are Copper B Metal Coating and Traditional Blue Patina. I will be looking into these materials and will post about them another time. The video states that the finished piece can be sealed with wax or Permalac. The finished results look very elegant. It has that Arts and Crafts-style look…natural materials, beauty, and durability. It has made me think of ways I could use this method myself. I’m thinking a clay disk, say 14″ wide and a half-inch thick (with a lip) would make a gorgeous aged copper Lazy Susan. A turn table base would have to be affixed, but that wouldn’t be hard to do.  Hmmm…


About Jan

I have a background in ceramics, graphic design and journalism.
This entry was posted in Articles and Interviews, How-to-do-it, My Work, Video/Photos/Slide Show and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Metal and Clay: An Arts and Crafts-style combination

  1. Pauline says:

    Hi Jan,
    I really like the way your dragonfly tile turned out. Beautiful!

    • Jan says:

      Ahhh, that’s right…you haven’t seen it for awhile. Thanks, Pauline…glad you like it. Can’t wait to frame it.

  2. gary says:

    the copper coating, and various coatings are very interesting technique…. great idea !

  3. Pingback: Raise your flower pots to a new level by making pot risers | JANE STREET CLAYWORKS

  4. Pingback: Gold and silver leaf on ceramics, Part 1 | JANE STREET CLAYWORKS

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