Two Craftsman Sconces

IMG_0698Two unglazed, unfired craftsman sconces are drying on a shelf and waiting to be glazed and loaded into the kiln.

We will post photos of the sconces after they have been glazed red-brown, fired and fitted with art glass windows.

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Branded Sconce

A customer ordered 7 sconces with a custom design; a Texas ranch brand.  They provided a thumbnail image.  We took it into Adobe Illustrator, traced it and saved it as a vector file.  Then it was scaled to fit the sconce keeping in mind that it will shrink 12% after firing.  We printed, traced and carved this pattern into clay.  Then we poured a polyurethane mold.  Once the mold has been removed, it’s ready to use as a custom design stamp.  The brand will be pierced so that light shines through at night.

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Consider the Grackle

grackle“The grackles crack their throats of bone in the smooth air.  Moisture and heat have swollen the garden into a slum of bloom.”—Wallace Stevens

The Grackle is an unavoidable part of the soundtrack and setting of Austin, Texas.  When we at Clayworks first began to explore the idea of a Grackle theme exhibit to kick off our annual East Austin Studio Tour show, we wondered whether anyone besides ourselves found the ubiquitous bird an inspiration.  We began asking around and discovered that a number of Austin artists had been contemplating or even making Grackle art for a while.

Grackle Show at ClayworksThe original Great Grackle Show opened at Clayworks for the 2011 East Austin Studio Tour.   The show continues through March 2012 at Austin Bergstrom International Airport.  Participating artists are:

Kathleen Ash, Barbara Lugge, MAKEatx, Caroline Wright, Aly Winningham, Susan Wallace, Lyon Graulty, Stewart Gray, John & Chris Gray, Barbara Attwell, Ellen Gibbs, Phillip Wade, Carly Weaver, Melody Lytle, and Fran Berry.

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Clayworks 2011

After a couple of rocky years, we feel like we we’re back in business in here at Clayworks. Our projects in 2011 represent the range of sustaining work we need, from custom tile to lighting, murals, signage and restoration. Here is a sampling:

Houston Arboretum Trailmarkers

The Trailmarkers are mounted atop sculpted concrete tree trunks.

Wayfinding tiles for the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, a project that came back to us after years of delay due to the destruction Caused by Hurricane Ike.

Inscribed donor tiles and murals.

Pavers inscribed with the names of donors and stamped with Boy Scout insignia surround the twelve Scout Law murals.

Inscribed donor tiles for the new Scout Training & Education Center in North Austin. Along with hundreds of donor name tiles stamped with scout insignia, we made a dozen Scout Law murals.

Restaurant SconcesA commission to choose 45 sconces from stock and air freight them to Holland for Four Roses Mexican Restaurant near Amsterdam.   The owners had visited our shop on a scouting expedition for Southwestern fixtures and Mexican food recipies

Restaurant sconces

Chisholm Trail Museum mural





A 30-in. square floor mural for a museum courtyard showing the path of the Chisholm Trail from Cuero northward.  The colored clays which make up the mural were cut to shape while soft.


frog fountain spout              Replication of clay frog spouts for a fountain on the grounds of the Perry Mansion, an Austin estate currently undergoing an extensive renovation.

And there’s been the steady flow of bread & butter work–hand inscribed donor pavers for schools, churches & libraries; individual address plaques made to order and sconces of all descriptions for homes and public spaces.

tile address plaqueclay sconces in kiln

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Chisholm Trail Mural

Here’s the finished Chisholm Trail Museum mural, all set and grouted, ready to be picked up.  Robert Anderson Landscape Architects contacted us a few months ago for a 30-in. square floor installation for the museum courtyard showing the path of the trail from Cuero northward.  Museum Director Robert Oliver provided a map of the trail.  We started with a pencil layout, and once it seemed right converted it into a computer image.

We then enlarged the pattern and made slabs of the five colored clays used in the design:  terra cotta, buff, cobalt, copper and white. We cut the shapes from their respective colors and fit them together puzzle style.  While the clay was still soft, we inscribed the trail and the rivers and place names.  After firing, the mural was set onto concrete board and grouted, so that it can be set as a single piece at the museum

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Wedging green clay

The pigmented clay we sometimes use is generally mixed by hand.  John is wedging green clay–pigmented with chrome–for a floor medallion.

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Trail Mural

This is the design for a 30-in square courtyard floor mural we’re making for the Chisholm Trail Museum in Cuero.  The pigmented clays we are using are colored throughout rather than glazed on the surface, so that foot traffic can never wear the color away.  There are five different clays:  terra cotta, buff, white, green and blue.  The next step in the process is to enlarge the pattern, then roll out slabs and cut out the shapes.Chisholm Trail map

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