Terra Sigillata

We use this to treat or decorate or color or change the surface of our pit fired pottery.  I’ve done lots of research using Google and Wiki and learned that there are many ideas about what it is.  I learned that it refers to something called sealed earth.  I learned that is was used to make the surface of pottery made by the ancient Greeks and Romans and others after them to make the pottery more water tight.  I learned that it has medicinal properties, which I have to pursue further, just not today.  I learned some of the different ways to make terra sigillata, and all the different ways to apply it.

Brush it on or spray it on; brush or spray it on greenware or brush it on or spray it on bisqueware.  Do it once, let it dry, apply again, no wait, polish it with an old sock, baggie, shopping bag, no wait, don’t polish it until you are all done applying the layers, you don’t have to or you better not forget.

And then there is the system for making the terra sig.  And the kind of clay you should use.  Just mix the clay and the water together and let it settle and then decant the middle layer of the layers of clay water or in this case really reallyreally thin clay slip.  Or measure everything carefully and then take days and use this contraption or else.

I love reading these instructions.  I compare them to the ones we learned and changed over time.  We are always looking for the best recipe, the best technique, the most color.

I am including a link to this site:   Terra-Sigillata Primer, by Russel Fouts  Brussels,Belgium so you can read his ‘recipe’ for success.  I look forward to incorporating some of his ideas.  Here is his website: Russel Fouts: Mes Pots et Mes Pots.

We usually take the easy and quick way, mostly because we are in a hurry and we have limited studio space.  This past summer we did try the spraying technique and John liked it.  I know we will be doing it outside because it’s quite messy and we like a reason to get out and play with clay in the sunshine.

If you know any other sites with info, could you leave a comment for all of us?  I will keep posting the information and links as I find them.

L- Red Art TS; Old Mine#4; OM#4 with copper wash

L- Red Art TS; Old Mine#4; OM#4 with copper wash

These three pots are standing in front of a photo taken of a pit firing..deep in the pit.  Photo taken by Marc Wollman, a great friend and good photographer in Racine, WI.


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