Carving for lines and depth.
I love taking a drawing, and sketching it out on a fresh slab of clay. I then draw the legs, bangos, etc, that I want to stand out an pop. I carve these out of a second stab, and attch then to the first drawing.
I then wrap it in plastic and let it meld overnight.
When the slab is a soft leather hard I start cutting away, smoothing the edges. In doing this I create undercuts that add depth. It means I can not recreate these tiles by making moulds and reproducing the same form.
I do use my first drawings to create more tiles, but they are never the same. Check out these wren tiles, that were done from the same first drawing:
For these I added an extra layer for the bird, and cut away around the tree.
After I have the basic shape I them paint the tiles with underglazes. I use techniques I learned doing egg tempra painting with pigment, and egg yolk on gessoed wooden boards, Ater painting with colour is good training for this work. A person in our studio has been studying watercolour and does amazing work for our local Empty Bowls project.
After I put 3-4 layers of colour on, I go away for a day. I come back and see if there is more underglaze work to do, or if areas would benift from having glazes painted on, that would add more depth of field.
The above tile uses glazes and underglazes on the colour layer.
I leave them for a day, and wax the back of the tile, and spray them with cone 6 clear feldspar glaze in my spray booth.
After they are completely bone dry, I once fire them in my kiln over 15 to 18 hours, to a high cone 5. This keeps the underglaze colours from fading and saves on energy and the environment.
I do NOT have higher warping/shrinkage/breakage rates by once firing.