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|When I think of terra sigillata, I think of the soft, satin surfaces of low-fired earthenware, like Greek red and black ware that still has that great surface sheen. But Anne Fløche has taken terra sigillata in a different direction. She’s allowed herself to use it in a way that goes against tradition, but is true to her own inspiration and way of working. This is a classic example of taking a tried-and-true technique and making it personal. Whether you’re using terra sigillata in a traditional manner or pushing it to try something new, Fløche provides a great tutorial (and a recipe) for making this versatile material.—Sherman Hall, Ceramic Arts Daily|
|Terra sigillata is a very old and very simple material used by the Greeks and Romans. They used it to create burnished red-and-black wares fired at low temperatures: 1650°-1830°F (900°-1000°C). I fire higher, to 1100°C (2010°F), because I find that my works are too fragile otherwise. There is a balance to maintain, however, because many colors become dull and dense if the firing temperature is too high. I apply the terra sigillata to bone-dry clay with a brush. Broad brushes are particularly useful. To my basic recipe, I add coloring oxides or stains, as one would with an ordinary slip.
I realize that I construct my slips in so many ways (even adding sand sometimes) that some might say that it is not really terra sigillata anymore. I suppose this might be true, but it is a very simple way of working, and I have not had many technical problems. I also do not leave my clay to settle, as is typical with terra sigillata, to obtain the finest grains. Many of the materials I use are so fine that this is not necessary. Only when I use a raw, local clay or a stoneware clay with grog do I leave it to settle and separate into layers. Fundamentally, the china clay can be replaced by any other clay: local clays, stoneware clays, etc. Each clay has its own nuances.
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|Some clays I use on their own, rather than using them in the recipe; however, nonplastic clays may peel. If this happens, I add more ball clay. Peeling may also occur if the terra sigillata is applied too thick.|
|My clay body is very coarse, so the terra sigillata sticks well to the surface. A very fine clay might pose problems. If the clay body is too fine, more grog can be added.|