Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Clay Sculpture Finishes, Clay Artwork Finishes


(above) "Silver Grace" - clay sculpture was finished using acrylic paint, metallic pigments and non-fired glaze.


Most of my sculptures are finished with paint rather than glaze for two reasons:
  • Many of my sculptures are fired in pieces and reassembled after being fired. Artworks that are to be glazed should be in one piece and have no breaks or cracks. Otherwise, the cracks will become obvious and the artwork may not be repairable.
  • While glazing does allow for an immense freedom in finishes, painting the artwork allows for more control over the finished product. If you work with one-of-a-kind artworks, each one having months of work already put into them, then problems such as overfiring and runny glaze are not an option.
Jen's 4-step finishing process:
  1. The first step is applying dark acrylic paints, then adding highlights (either paint or metallic pigments) to imitate either a realistic coat color of the animal or a metallic finish. The sculpture,no matter what the finished color will be, always starts with a coat of dark paint. The highlights are then brought out through many layers of color. This enhances the depth of the finish.
  1. The sculpture is then coated completely with an acrylic matte finish to protect the paint finish. Sometimes this step is done before the last coats of paint and then the acrylic is re-applied after the painting is finished.
  2. The sculpture is then coated with a clear, glass-like glaze over the entire sculpture. This step makes the finish durable against scratches and adds a brilliant shine to the sculpture.
  3. If a matte finish is desired, the sculpture is then coated again with the acrylic matte finish.

(above) "Spirited" - clay sculpture was finished using acrylic paint, non-fired glaze, and matte acrlyic to dull the shine of the glaze.


I use the black acrylic paint as the base color for almost all of my finishes, topped off with either more acrylic paint colors, or the rub 'n buff metallic finishes. Krylon Triple Thick is the non-fired glaze, and you can find it in some specialty stores in brush-on form rather than spray form (if you intend to use it often, you will get many more uses out of the brush-on form, but I have found no difference in quality between the two forms).

Other finishing options:

There are many other options to choose from for finishing artworks. There are different glazing options, such as regular kiln-fired glazes, raku glazes, metallic glaze accents (such as gold), and others. There's the option of using terra cotta clay and either covering it with a clear coat glaze or leaving it unfinished. Different painting techniques or using a ceramic stain before the first firing are also great options. This list is extremely far from conclusive, but it's a good start.

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