Using a combination of two glazes and several sprayed stains, Dianna Pittis makes fish sculptures that accurately mimic the markings and colorings of the fish in nature.

In a previous feature, Diana Pittis shared the innovations she made to her raku firing technique to make firing her fish sculptures as efficient and successful as possible. Check it out here to see her specially fabricated firing tongs and the raku cradle she made for her fish. Today, we bring you her glaze recipes and decorating techniques for acheiving realistic-looking surfaces. Through trial and error, she has come up with a way to stay true to the form she is trying to replicate. It looks fishy to me!—Sherman Hall, Ceramic Arts Daily

I knew that if I was trying sculpturally to make a fish that had the proportions of a real fish, I should also try to stay somewhat true to their actual colors. I used a couple of books that were given to me by a friend (which I understood to be “fishermen’s bibles”) to help me get the colors correct.
I applied a clear glaze on portions of the Alligator Matt White glaze to break up the very matt look. I currently use only two glazes: Alligator Matt White and a White Crackle glaze, fired to cone 05. I rub stains on the bisqued fish to highlight the scales, spray one of the two glazes, then spray stains and oxides over that. Then, perhaps, I’ll spray one of the two glazes again. It all depends on what the particular fish species needs.

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Finishing Touches The final step in completing these fish is to attach the stand. I turn them upside down in a foam-padded holder, stuff rags into the bottom opening of the fish to block the mouth then pour a liquid mix of concrete into the opening at the bottom of the fish with a funnel. I then position the iron stand and wire into place so that the fish will sit at the proper angle. The mounted fish range in length from 11 to 26 inches and weigh anywhere from 8 to 16 pounds—clay, concrete and iron combined. The final step for each fish is to be signed on the bottom.
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