I have been wanting to do a Flamingo egg cup for a long time, I even picked the glaze colours in Sri Lanka over a year ago! So, this January I did a lot of research on places such as pinterest and I then got cracking, and made the clay model here in the workshop. I really love this stage, as it uses skills I don’t often get to use any more, and reminds me that I am a sculptor at heart. The first stage is to make the clay model, which when finished is bedded into clay to make a mould.
This one needed a 3 part mould, which when finished is dried thoroughly, then a first cast can be taken. To do this liquid clay, called ‘slip’ is poured into the mould, left for 10 minutes and then drained (see above). This leaves a hollow case of clay inside the mould and when you open it up, you are left with your Flamingo eggcup! The best bit!
The clay flamingo is then fired, this is called the bisque firing, and is usually to 1000 degrees C, this makes it go white and porous and ready to have the underglaze colour applied. I do this either by sponging or dipping. The flamingo pink I wanted was sponged onto the body, I did a few variations to get the right depth of colour, then I sponged the green/blue base. This requires a steady hand and you have to be very careful not to smudge it. Finally I paint on the beak detail with a fine brush, and the egg cup is dipped in glaze and fired again. This time to 1100C. The glaze firing is the highest firing, and when it comes out of the kiln, it then has decals applied. The piece is then fired for the last time, and fingers crossed is finished and perfect!
We launched the finished Flamingo at a Trade Show called Top Drawer this January, and we were really really pleased with the reception my new creation got, and with pre-orders taken. I also posted about it on our Facebook page and got an amazing response. Clearly Flamingos have a very dedicated group of admirers, and they are a particular favourite with collectors of American Kitsch. The next stage is to send a wax model and samples to Sri Lanka, they then create a test mould there and send me bisque fired samples to check. We visited in February and could see glazed first samples, I showed them how to apply the decals and that is my part done! They then produce finished decorated samples for approval and production begins.
The first finished Flamingos arrived here in May, and were launched on the website, the fun bit! They are a very versatile product to promote, as if you face two together they create a heart, and so are perfect for Valentine’s gifts or for Weddings. They look great solo too though, and I am really looking forward to doing more lifestyle photography of them, watch this space them.