Sarah McLeary

Ceramics and Architecture

Susan O’Byrne demo

The Scottish Potters Association organise a weekender at Kindroggan every year, this was the first time I’ve been and it was fantastic! Luckily the weather was ok for driving up, as it’s a two hour drive through Fife and Perth, very pretty in the snow.

I spent all day watching Susan O’Byrne demonstrating her technique. She has exhibited her am=nimals widely; they’re really really lovely. She was very generous, taking us through the entire technique she’s developed for using porcelain paperclay to form the figures, then using more paperclay to roll superthin sheets of patterned surface which she mosaics onto the figures, when they are leatherhard.

Here‘s a post elsewhere showing some of her wonderful animals in a gallery. They’re so full of character!

Of course, I’m absolutely OBSESSED with medieval tile designs, and when Susan was demonstrating I recognised lots of the patterns from my favourite book, Dover Pictorials!

Some photos of Susan demonstrating;

ps lots happening on Mud Colony if you like pottery blogs!


4 comments on “Susan O’Byrne demo

  1. T.J.Art ceramics
    March 29, 2013

    Hi, My name is Tracie and I’m from the south-west of Western Australia. I’m a ceramic artist using mainly porcelain doing sculptural and functional work but incorporating found objects from the shore and ocean. I’m interested in the technique using the paperclay and the patterns (which are gorgeous) how does she put the patterns onto the paperclay? Let me know. Thanks.


    • sarahhalford
      March 29, 2013

      Hi Tracie!

      It is a many-step process like a sort of reverse inlay technique, which allows Susan to create incredibly thin sheets of pattern.

      She has thin paperclay slip, in two colours, one thick, one thin.

      Makes a stencil of the pattern she wants to create, from acetate or mylar sheet
      paints through the stencil with the thick slip, onto a damp plaster batt, peel the stencil off so you have the pattern painted on the batt.
      Paint the other colour of thin slip over the whole batt, this is the background colour.
      Smoooth out the back and wait until it’s amtt, not shiny, so that’s the perfect dryness.
      Peel the whole thing off with a credit card. Susan’s came off in pieces, which the then chops down further, but she can get big pieces off too.

      You don’t need the stencils, you can paint in one colour, then another, then draw back through with a wooden tool [so as to not scratch the plaster surface].

      It’s best to test the plaster batt first using plain paper slip, as if it’s too dry it won’t peel off again.

      Susan uses Scarva stains and another company who I can’t remember the name of… as they’re v true to the finished colour.
      Hope that’s helpful!


  2. Anna's Ceramics
    April 1, 2013

    wow, sounds like a great process – will have to think about a stencil… thanks for sharing


    • sarahhalford
      April 1, 2013

      It’s one of these processes that you think ‘that’s a whooole lot of effort!’ but it’s a very specific look Susan’s going for, like a 3D mosaic in the thinnest of thinnest pieces. If you weren’t going quite so thin with the pattern it would be a lot easier! Plus, you don’t have to use a stencil, you can ‘paint’ slip straight onto the plaster batt, it’s using the plaster batt as the surface that gives the super-flat finished surface.


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This entry was posted on March 28, 2013 by in Uncategorized.
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