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  #1  
Old 07-20-2010, 03:52 PM
bootie bootie is offline
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patinas for fired clay

I'm experimenting and need advice. So far I've patinaed one sculpture (half lifesize head) with acrylic paint and then paste wax over top. I'm wondering about putting a glaze on the next one to be fired. I think there is matte glaze as well as gloss. Also, what about spraying clear acrylic finish on a patinaed piece? In the distant past, when I sculpted often (just starting again after 25 yrs), I think I scrubbed in an oil color thinned with turpentine and then put paste wax and the more I rubbed it the shinier it got. But the paste wax I put on the acrylic isn't doing that. It's just settling into the creases in my sculpture and sitting there like crud. Please give me advice on what works and looks good! thanks
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  #2  
Old 07-20-2010, 04:53 PM
Andrew Werby Andrew Werby is offline
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Re: patinas for fired clay

Why are you calling this "patina"? It sounds like you're simply painting the fired clay with acrylic paint. What are you trying to accomplish? If you want it to look like bronze (sort of), this isn't the way to go about it. It sounds like you used to know that technique; why not do that - with oil-based paints - instead of messing around with the acrylics? There are other coatings that actually contain metals; these give a more convincing bronze effect, and will allow a true patination to occur if you treat them with the right chemicals.

Ceramic glaze is a more traditional treatment for fired clay, but it can obscure details. You can use ceramic stains to give colors without gloss, if that's what you want. Or if you want it to be shiny, use stains with a thin layer of clear glaze over them.

Paste wax is good for protecting the surface of cars, but if you use it on sculpture it will tend to accumulate in any deep indentations, cracks and fissures, as you seem to have discovered. A light touch and buffing out with stiff brushes helps.

Andrew Werby
www.computersculpture.com
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  #3  
Old 07-20-2010, 05:42 PM
bootie bootie is offline
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Re: patinas for fired clay

I'm not going for a bronze look. From the forums as well as from books I've been looking at, it seems lots of finishes are made up as you go along, trying this and then the other. I'm most interested in the ceramic stain you mention. I'll check that out. Thank you very much!
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  #4  
Old 07-20-2010, 06:05 PM
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ahirschman ahirschman is offline
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Re: patinas for fired clay

Hey Bootie, I'll see if I can remember something of use...

I used to do terracotta figures. I would fire them, and then I would use many layers to achieve a certain look. I started out with that "look" in mind, so I had an idea of what to do.

Usually, I would start with an acrylic base. I would choose a color that would show through my other layers. Say, green, brown, etc.

I would then take some diluted acrylic color and give my whole sculpture a wash with this color. Before it dried, I would take as much off as I wanted. This would leave a darker coloring in the deeper recesses. You could go with a lighter color to make the high spots darker, if you want to go against the grain of what is "Normal."

Now, you can always add more layers at this point to keep on darkening, but you can't take away without starting over, so you decide the path here. Do a couple of light washes or risk having to start over (Or, maybe you get it right the first time...)

Now I would take some other colors and add some touches here and there. For example, if I was trying to imitate a bronze with some green oxides coming through the brown patina I would have added some green at this point. How good the finished product looks depends on your "painting" skills.

Once you have a rough look you move on to the next phase.

At this point, I would take some of my premixed transparent colors and apply them.

I made these colors by mixing small amounts of oil paints (the paints made for paintings or sometimes the wax based shoe polish instead of the paint) with a nice clear wax and some solvent (turpentine) and carefully warming and mixing the mixture (Fire hazard if you are not careful). I made these in small jars, and they are still usable 15 years later!!

I applied these with a brush. You can warm them up a bit to get a thinner mix and you can take rags / paper towels and remove as much as you want before it "Dries".

After a few hours I would buff the whole thing using a shoe polishing brush (nice soft one) to get as much shine as I wanted. You can build up many layers and get a really nice depth here if you are careful.

Before I started on this road, I went to the National Gallery of Art (I used to live nearby) and looked at lots of bronzes to get color ideas. That worked for me.

What you have done here is created a base color and then added multiple translucent layers on top. Each layer modifies and changes the look of the previous layers.

You can achieve a lot of different looks using these techniques. If you now use some metal containing acrylics for your first coats you can increase the possibilities ad infinitum... You can add acids...

The sculptures are indoors, and look very good after close to 20 years. I dust them, and buff them every few years. If I needed, i could add a thin layer of clear wax, but that has not been necessary.

And, last but not least, make tests before you cover your entire sculpture.

Hope this helps.

Ari
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  #5  
Old 07-20-2010, 07:51 PM
bootie bootie is offline
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Re: patinas for fired clay

Ari, thank you so much! This is exactly what I needed. You are an excellent teacher, I'll be trying these techniques as well as the ceramic stain.
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  #6  
Old 07-20-2010, 08:31 PM
rika rika is offline
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Re: patinas for fired clay

Ari, great advice. I wish I had seen it when I first started painting my sculptures. My own experiments were similar to what you describe above, so it gives me a peace of mind that things are on track.

One thing that never got resolved for me is sealing. I use paper mache for most of my sculptures. I used to seal my pieces with Mod Podge (sp?), but hated the glossiness that even the matte version yielded. For my last few sculpts I only used acrylic paint. I'm wondering can several layers of acrylic paint be used as sealer? I want to protect the pieces from water and dirt.
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  #7  
Old 07-20-2010, 09:50 PM
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ahirschman ahirschman is offline
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Re: patinas for fired clay

Hi Bootie & Rika, Let me know if you need me to elaborate on any thing I wrote. The big thing here is the Layering & lots and lots of trial and error to achieve a desired look.

I am so good at this stuff... - I recently put a patina on four large heads I sculpted (Now hanging at the Boca Raton Museum of art for a show). I was going for a variegated powdery blue look, but as I added more and more acid, and bronze bearing paint my "blue" turned to a very dark brown that is almost a very rich black with a few blue spots showing. Well, I decided I liked it... I added some touches of color using pigmented waxes and left them looking about 100% different than what I had originally desired. In other words, unless you do this a lot, under controlled temperature & atmosphere, (when using real patinas) you will not always end up with what you want. I could have removed the finish and started all over, but I'm lazy, and it was easier to like them with their new look :-P

Rika, mod-podge (or however you say it) seems like a safe thing to use. If you go for epoxies and things like that you have to deal with all the health hazards. Make it really shiny, then just take some sand paper, or steel wool, or any other scratchy (3m pads) thing and scratch the surface. Shiny stuff is just a smooth surface. Dull stuff is a bumpy surface (at the microscopic level), so you can always make things non shiny. If you have access to a sand blaster you can quickly dull any thing in the world. Have access to a vibratory tumbler? Same thing.

Have you tried adding a layer of mod-podge mixed with something bumpy to change the final texture? If you want to leave tool marks, like if you had worked in clay, you can thicken glue, or maybe mod-podge with household talc (Not corn starch - or at least I have not tried that but my guess is bugs would eat the corn starch variety). Lots of products out there contain a binder and talc. Talk is one of the softest rocks out there and is easy to sand, and easy to mix... Then you could dull it a little more, but you would have created a different texture.

I normally use either polyurethane or epoxy and mix it with Cabosil or polyurethane fibers (creating a thixotropic mixture). I can readily control the thickness and tailor it for each need at the time I need it. I know that Cabosil will work with just about any thing (but, Cabosil will absorb some moisture over time, so keep that in mind if working with polyurethanes - OK with epoxies). It is very very fluffy and will float all over the room, while the polyurethane fibers are much heavier and tend to settle down quicker). But, like I said, you can probably achieve similar results with talc.

As far as sealing your work, I can only guess. I'm not sure we know how long acrylics, and all these other plastics will last, but, I'm not sure what else to use. Even epoxies will react with UV eventually, unless you apply a UV barrier (light absorbing paint). With most sealers, added thickness usually means better wear and tear and durability.

David Smith (the sculptor) wrote that he applied 25 coats of epoxy primer before applying zinc paint and many coats of his final color to his steel sculptures.

Hope some of this is useful.

Ari.

Last edited by ahirschman : 07-20-2010 at 09:52 PM. Reason: pressed post by mistake
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  #8  
Old 07-21-2010, 07:01 AM
rika rika is offline
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Re: patinas for fired clay

Sounds like a happy accident with the heads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ahirschman View Post
Rika, mod-podge (or however you say it) seems like a safe thing to use. If you go for epoxies and things like that you have to deal with all the health hazards. Make it really shiny, then just take some sand paper, or steel wool, or any other scratchy (3m pads) thing and scratch the surface.
Thanks a lot, Ari. I never thought of that. I'll try it. If I apply several coats of the sealer, and sand lightly, some hopefully will stay on.
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  #9  
Old 07-21-2010, 09:25 AM
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ahirschman ahirschman is offline
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Re: patinas for fired clay

I would start with the 3M pads or the steel wool (bronze wool is also available).

I use 4 o (0000) to actually bring out shine in my bonded bronzes, so you may want to go down to 3 o (000) or even 2 o. Sand paper may be to rigid to follow contours of curved surfaces. It would be just fine for flat areas.

Ari.
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  #10  
Old 07-21-2010, 10:17 AM
grommet grommet is offline
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Re: patinas for fired clay

Rika, with the inherent pits in your pieces, scuffing with steel wool or a finishing pad won't easily get into the pits, leaving those bits shiny.
Here's a Canadian source for matte sprays as well as some brush on ones.

https://www.currys.com/catalogpc.htm...RY=A093B000729
https://www.currys.com/catalogpc.htm...A093&NBReset=2
https://www.currys.com/catalogpc.htm...4025&NBReset=4
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  #11  
Old 07-21-2010, 11:20 PM
rika rika is offline
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Re: patinas for fired clay

The pits don't matter much, just what's on the surface.
I know Curry's, I do like their varnish. The glossiness is not too offending, I've been using it for larger pieces.
I haven't tried the one on your first link, but satin finish usually is not good. I guess it's worth a try.
Someone suggested I use a paint medium, which I did, it was not as glossy as the sealer, but it turned yellow in 24 hrs.
Thanks for the suggestions!
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