Hydrangeas are a bold showy flower when they are full bloom. The blue tinged flower is offset by luscious green foliage. These hand-illustrated elements are set against a background of gold lustre.
These large hand-illustrated vessels with blue hydrangeas on a pure gold background are a studio specialty.
The vessel is wheel thrown from Australian mid-fired stoneware clay. When the clay has been turned to refine the piece and create a foot ring, it is carefully dried to a bone dry stage - when the artist pencils in the floral outlines.
Coloured underglazes in are then applied to fill in the details. Outlines are drawn with a fine syringe filled with black commercial underglaze in a delicate and time-consuming process to define the design
The decorated vessel then undergoes its first kiln firing - the bisque firing. This essential process drives out all moisture in the clay and begins the vitrification of the clay. This turns the clay from a malleable paste-like material into a complex, impervious ceramic.
The bisque-fired, decorated vessel is then airbrushed with a clear glaze inside and out to make it fully functional and watertight. The piece is then fired to 1220 degrees centigrade in an electric kiln.
If the kiln gods are on the artist's side and the vessel has escaped the rigours of the fiery kiln, the design on the piece now shows a lovely depth of colour. Adding the gold background is the final process.
The vessel is carefully cleaned to remove any traces of dust or handling oils. Bright gold lustre - a suspension of gold in essential oils and liquefiers allows the gold to be painted into the background parts of the illustration.
Applying the gold is done by hand using a special brush that applies the volatile lustre in a single stroke. The artist is fully masked and works in a highly ventilated space. The volatile liquids holding the gold salts evaporate away. It is an exacting technical and artistic task.
Once complete and the gold lustre has dried the piece is fired once more for the pure gold surface to form on the work.
After many days of painstaking but rewarding work, the vessel is ready for a final quality control inspection and dispatch to its forever home.
Height: 260 mm
Width: 290 mm
Depth: 290 mm
Weight: 1.4 Kg
This vessel is handmade and unique. It comes with a signed Certificate of Authenticity from the artist.
Authentic, handmade ceramic vessels can show some variation in colour, shape and texture from piece to piece. Artistic authenticity is our goal rather than identical mechanical reproductions.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Frances Smith is an accomplished Australian ceramic artist and teacher. She is academically trained with degrees and diplomas in graphic design and ceramic arts. Formerly head of design for the Seven Network and working for many TV and production companies, she now lives and works in the beautiful NSW seaside village of Kiama.