Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pastels and the clay mono type - the process


The clay mono-type is a variation of the traditional mono-type techniqu

A slab of stoneware clay 3/4 to 1 inch thick is pressed into a firm framed base mounted on a solid support table or bench.  The surface is smoothed and leveled with the edges of the frame and is allowed to dry overnight to a “leather hard” consistency.  There is no “correct” size: it can be small and portable or permanently situated in the studio.  This clay base will act as the “plate” in the creation of the monotype.  My current clay plate is 30x40” and was created in 2002.  By keeping it covered with wet paper and plastic drapes it will last indefinitely.

Mixing water and kaolin powder in a blender to a light pancake batter consistency produces liquid clay known as slip; several coats are then brushed onto the clay slab.  This slip also becomes the “paint” by the addition of pure pigments, dry or liquid, and is used to create the image by its application to the clay slab.  The final result is a flat slab of clay in which the image is imbedded. 

clay plate with completed image

A moistened support, fabric or paper, is placed on top of the clay and pressure is applied using a roller or brayer.  The support becomes impregnated with a thin layer of the clay resulting in a transfer of the image.

The clay print
The resulting one of kind images have characteristics unlike those produced by any other method.  The variety of techniques that can be used in this process is limited only by the imagination and curiosity of the artist.

All the materials used in this process are archival and the pigments share the same light fastness as other tradition pigments.  The finished print can be framed under glass, or given a protective coat of varnish and stretched over a canvas stretcher.

Because this process does not allow me to obtain the detail and the control I need for my architectural subjects I began adding pastels to the process.  At first they were used to enhance and refine the image, but later assumed a more primary role, with the clay print serving more as an under-painting or background.  When using pastels I create the print on a fabric ground, usually an industrial fabric called Reemay, or on Pellon interfacing, available at fabric stores. 

Tuscan landscape - pastel on clay mono type  12x32
 I also use the clay print as a background for mixed media drawings with ink, markers, and acrylic, as well as pastel. 
Greve in Tuscany - mixed media drawing on clay mono type


jcwnorfolk said...

Thanks so much for the explanation! I had been wondering…the effect on your backgrounds are so unique looking.

Marsha Savage said...

Thanks for the link and the explanation given here. Very informative and inspiring.