and the small one for me

Gotta love underglazes. At the Steve Allen workshop where I learned about using a stencil made on the Thermofax machine, I was told to use dry mason stain, wear a face mask, and don’t touch the line even after the piece is bisqued because the stain will smear. That’s a lot of steps and restrictions so I tried using a black underglaze and slightly stiff brush on the stencil and it works fine – and without the mask – And there is no smearing which will make it easy to add color.

I only made a couple pages of images at the workshop and I have, um, misplaced one of those . To get more images I need a Thermofax machine which is hopelessly expensive, but when I went to get my tattoo last summer (which is a sweet or amusing or ridiculous story depending on your point of view- read on), I noticed that they have one, in fact all the tattoo places have one or something like that to make a stencil for transferring a design from paper to skin. I keep thinking that I will find a tattoo artist to make some screens for me, but I haven’t asked any yet so I don’t know if they would or what they would charge. It’s on my master “to do” list which is a start.

Anyway, I transferred this design and then turned the slab over onto a plaster hump mold so I could add a foot.

The tattoo story: When youngest daughter was about 5 she got her first henna tattoo. She was so dismayed when it wore off after a couple of days that I bought her a henna kit for her sixth birthday and drew a lotus blossom on the back of her hand. We were both delighted. Every few months I would squeeze out a flower onto the back of her hand when I had the time or inclination. Then she would dab it with lemon juice and keep her hand in one position till her skin turned a reddish-brown under the dried paste.

This went on for years. Almost always the same design but as time went on the designs got bigger and the vines would travel down her fingers or up her arm. Around middle school, she started drawing on herself, but always the lotus flower. And at the some point she started lobbying for a real tattoo. The answer was always – when you turn 18 it’s up to you if you can pay for it.

A year ago she was ready with the location (her foot), design (lotus and vines, of course), tattoo artist (well- researched), and cash (not cheap), but started lobbying for something else – that I get one with her. I was really touched by the sentiment, but I am too damn old for a tattoo. And besides, needles?? No thank you.

She is a patient and persistent girl and somehow, and I’m still surprised about this, after about 6 months, I said “OK” but just a tiny one. Hers is beautiful. Mine is simple and small, but every time I see it, I think of her and it is sweet.


When we took in our design, Rob, the chosen tattoo guy, had to shrink down the lotus picture and then make stencils to position them and I had just done the workshop and we talked thermo imaging machines to get my mind off the needle stabbing my ankle.


9 responses to “and the small one for me

  1. Your plate is gorgeous – would love to learn that technique. And I love the tattoo story –

  2. Thanks again, I enjoyed very much reading some of your posts (since I do not read English as quickly as I would like, it will take sometimes to read it all), I could see the way you’re inspired by everything around you; The mixture of pottery and painting fascinates me, and I love your delicate beautiful paintings of the birds, and flowers. I’ll defiantly keep reading your blog…

  3. Yes, your idea to do the same drawings on the bowels is great! i’ll give it a try.

  4. wonderful post and then we were off looking up all the stuff.
    What a great way to work with a design.
    The kids both have tats-
    Anna’s small- Joel- sigh, not so small.

  5. dang, the plate is GORGEOUS! I had wanted the wife’s inistial in a star tattoed on my right arm for 15 years. Finally got it last year, yay!

  6. How fun to draw a henna tattoo on your daughter all those years and then you both get a real one. Beautiful drawing on your bowl, would love to learn how to do this technique; the drawings in my journal are often much better than on my clay. I’ll have to keep my eye out for a workshop.

  7. maybe i’ll check out the henna if sofia starts going in that direction… she already writes all over herself. your daughter’s tattoo is simply and elegant. what is your tattoo of?

  8. Natalie Thiele

    (Far cry from) almost makes me wish I were still teaching. We had a Thermofax at our school. I used it all the time. There was never a line for that machine. It’s probably still there. Check your old school’s basement, they probably have one kicking around. Wish I had known then how useful it could have been for ceramics.

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