I wanted to show you all some images from a Monoprinting on Clay class that I took this summer with Arthur Gonzalez. I can’t say enough good things about Arthur, seriously, he was very open, personable and a great instructor to boot. He teaches at CCA and maintains a Facebook page for the ceramics department there. His personal site is here. Check it out!

In the class, which, by the way, was filled with a truly wonderful group of people, we learned how to monoprint on clay. Here are my in-progress shots from the process.

In the first step of monoprinting, we drew the image on a plaster slab with ceramic underglazes. I first drew the image in pencil onto the plaster, then I colored it in with black underglaze, and then I scratched through some of the underglaze to make the texture on the fur and branches. It’s important to remember that the image will be reversed later in the process as it’s pulled up onto a sheet of clay. That’s why in the original drawing, the letter “F” is backwards.

Here’s the opposite page of the book. In the upper left corner, you can see where I’ve begun to “mask” off the branches with white underglaze. I wanted to add some sponged-on black as an atmospheric background to my forest scene, but I didn’t want the black getting into the white marks on the branches. The masking essentially “closes” that layer of the print from any other marks or colors that are added later. It’s helpful to think of it as working backwards: you lay the foreground down first, then build back to the background, masking areas that you want to protect as you go.

Here’s the fox side, all masked off. I then sponged on a layer of black before masking the entire image again with white slip. This time, I masked the image in a big rectangle to fill the whole “page” with a white background.

Before I go on, I should mention that a book-shaped mold is the eventual destination of this print. I measured the “page” area of the book mold before starting. That measurement told me how big to make the fox and branch images in the first place. The next step is for me to print the image onto a clay slab and drop it into the book mold.

The printing process happens fast, so I missed getting a photo for you. What happens is, you must cover the masked image with a layer of thick slip, then slam down a slab of clay on top and roll it on firmly with a rolling pin. After about an hour, you peel up the slab and the image should adhere itself to the clay. after I printed both pages and dropped them into the book mold, this was the result:

If you look, you can see the subtle cloudiness in the background made by my sponged-on black layer. The sides of the book weren’t printed, so I painted them with slip and then added a back cover.

And here’s the result!

The piece in the photo hasn’t yet been fired. Earthenware, which is the clay we used in the workshop, will usually turn a more orange color after firing.

Stay tuned for the next “evolution” post, where I will show you how I recycled this book mold to use with wax casting! See you soon!