Last week I shared the pre-fired outputs of my session making hand-built pebbles, seed pods and other organic forms from clay; I ended with a prayer to the kiln gods for benevolence and held my breath (metaphorically that is; firing takes days), waiting to see what survived and how they turned out.

Because of a lack of both time and expertise, I opted to fire most of my pieces without glazes and surface colour, thinking I could decorate them later with acrylic paint given they were decorative pieces.  As a result, most came out like this – a deliciously blank canvas to work on;

I pulled out my acrylic paints and some pastels (for smoky, oxide-like effects), and set about playing with colours and ideas.  Finishing the pieces with a spray coating of matt varnish will set the colour and allow the pieces to be handled freely.

Here are my seed pods, horse chestnut and poppy-head transformed with colour – and also a tiny bud vase I decided to leave unadorned, which is the perfect holder for one of last season’s agapanthus seed heads (before/after shown below);

They look lovely as a set… (nb these are styled on upside-down pencil pots from the kids’ department of my local craft store!)

The pine cone is one of my favourites, modelled from life in the studio and now weathered and mossed as if found on the forest floor;

I also made a myriad of pebbles by joining two pinch pots together.  I had some real fun decorating these, using natural coastal colours for some and then masking others to allow a sharp contrast between the unadorned bisque-fired clay and the painted surface.  Sponging the paint allowed the texture to come through as it settled into the tiny cracks and the naturally rough surface of the clay. A couple of these are destined to become incense-holders; others simply deliciously tactile rocks to pass from hand to hand or prop on the mantle shelf.

Apart from this one, which is HUGE.  Harry, acting as the hand-model here, professed to be ‘exhausted’ by the effort of holding it up for all of 30 seconds.

I loved having the opportunity to paint each piece gradually and without time pressure (many still await my attention!), and to slowly build a collection that sits in the corner of the art room, making me smile.  It’s definitely a medium I’ll be coming back to.

Next week though, I have some visible mending projects to share, channelling the now-cult art of Sashiko with a little bit of artistic licence thrown in!

Have a great weekend when it comes, wherever you are and whatever you’re upto.