Initial 2018 experiments to combine paper and ceramics in Beachfront Pottery art pieces

Photos and reporting by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL, 62035, USA.  If you enjoyed this post, then give me a “like” on my Facebook page.      There is additional information about Beachfront Pottery on my web site.

The Idea

When you first think about combining paper and ceramics in a single art piece, you might envision the paper part of the piece being burned off in the kiln during the pottery firing process.  However, the seemingly impossible task of combining the two materials have intrigued me for quite some time, as one of the “impossible to solve” problems in creating art.

The call for entry from the Greenville Artist Guild titled “Works with Paper” have mobilized my thoughts, and lead me to experiment to include paper in ceramic art.

My experiments were focused on using paper as a wrapping/surrounding material around a ceramic support/frame, and then selecting staining methods for the paper.

The Experimental Effort

As a novice in paper art, I soon realized that there are several types of paper out there, and they are very different in their ability to bend, to accept stains, and to retain shape when wetted.


My first trial was to wrap paper towel around a framework of ceramic prongs.  The ceramic frame was bisque fired, but not glazed, because I was concerned that the glazing may allow the paper to slip off the piece.  I dripped dilute blue watercolor (French Ultramarine from Daniel Smith) onto the dry paper towel, and allowed the watercolor paint to run into the paper.

Small chunks of the paint remained on the surface, but most of it spread into a diffuse blotch.



I tried acrylic paint (from Walmart) on paper towels.  This time I dabbed thick paint onto the paper surface, and then added water to wash the paint into the paper.  The result was that acrylic paint spread throughout the paper fairly evenly, while the thick streaks remained largely intact.






These experiments represent blue watercolor (French Ultramarine from Daniel Smith) spotted and the chased with water into the paper. On the left is paper towel, and on the right is drawing paper.  In both cases the paper was wetted before applying paint right out of the tube, and then rinsed with a stream of water, nailpolish remover, or butyl alcohol..  Chasing with water showed streaking paint, so that’s what I pursued most.


This experiment is where I wrapped lose toilet paper around the drawing paper, and here the blue watercolor (French Ultramarine from Daniel Smith) soaked and streaked along the creases of the wrinkled toilet paper.





This paper towel sheet shows the mixability of acrylic paint in paper towel.  The blues and yellow gives purple spot where they were mixed or run into each other.









In this experiment I placed large chunks of wet pulp made of toilet paper onto the ceramic frame, and the covered it by a few sheets of toilet paper.  The blue watercolor (French Ultramarine from Daniel Smith) ran into the toilet paper, but then is was slowed down after reaching into the pulp layer.  So, the water color stayed mostly locally.




In the next experiment I wanted to see how supporting the crinkled toilet paper may change to streaking of the watercolor paint.  I placed the following support under toilet paper: Saran wrap, newspaper, clumped paper pulp, crumpled paper ribbon




This is the supporting material on the ceramic bisque frame. From left: tissue paper threads, dry paper pulp clumps, SaranWrap, newspaper threads.   I wrapped dry toilet paper around these frames, then wet the toilet paper before applying the blue paint from a eye dropper.





The dry paper pulp clumps; paint tend to diffuse in large volumes leading to little contrast or streaking.







Saran wrap made to overlaid toilet paper to crease and crinkle, and those creases channeled paint more in a streaking fashion.







Tissue paper threads also caused the overlaid toilet paper to crease and crinkle, and those creases channeled paint in a streaking fashion.







Newspaper threads buckled sometime dramatic fashion under the overlaid toilet paper.  Streaking looked good, but the drastic collapses of the newspaper sometimes obscured the more subtle paint streaks.












The two images above are the test of black India ink on wet paper towel on ceramic frame.  Ink ran into the paper more as a patch as opposed to a streak. The value of this staining is where the shape of the ceramic frame is enhanced by the black and white shading.


This image is about the trial of nail polish on paper towel. To my surprise the nail polish didn’t streak or moved even when placed on an acetone-wetted paper, or when chased by acetone.  It may be because of the paper’s interaction with the nail polish material.  It might be worth trying smooth paper surface, such as wax paper or tissue paper to rerun this experiment.






The Resulting Pieces

“Ghost Shark #2” by Robert Kokenyesi, Godfrey, IL
“Ghost Shark #2” by Robert Kokenyesi, Godfrey, IL, detail









I submitted this piece tot he Greenville Artist Guild call for entry. Whilethe piece didn’t get juried into the show, this is a good illustration of the outcome of a ceramic frame made of 10 inch long ceramic twizzler sticks.  The frame was wrapped into, and filled in the middle with tissue paper.  The paper had to be scotch taped to retain it’s position during handling.  Then several layers of dry toilet paper was wrapped around the core, and it was wetted using a spray bottle.  The blue watercolor (French Ultramarine from Daniel Smith) was diluted in a cup, and an eye dropper was used to slowly drip paint onto the surface of the wrapped piece.The darker and lighter blue patches are the result of many versus one paint dripping in the same spot. You can see how each droplet spread into an irregular patch, and the blue patchwork gives this piece a ghostly irregular appearance.


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