On a rainy day on a recent seaside holiday, various members of my family booked in for a ‘paint your own ceramics’ workshop for a couple of hours including tea and cake.
As the only man there that afternoon amongst assorted female holidaymakers of all ages, I declined the more floral patterns and the seaside inspired designs to design and paint my very own ceramic toy soldier parade on a plate.
Thinking of those wonderful Herald plastic toy soldier guardsmen or the Britain’s hollowcast lead bands and parades, the Airfix Guards Colour Party set amongst others, I sketched these figures freehand out on an unfired ceramic plate in pencil.
I wanted a 1950s / 1960s nursery tea set ceramics feel, so kept the design nice and loose.
What was so different from painting real toy soldiers with acrylic or enamel model paints, matt or gloss, is that ceramic paints are a different colour (almost pastel and chalky) from how they appear on ceramics when fired.
With ceramic paints you have no strong idea how the design will look when finished, other than the helpful colour range plates to look at when choosing paints. These have the final fired colour and paint name marked on, which gives you some idea which ceramic red paint is closest to a Guardsman’s scarlet jacket for example.
The eventual fired richness of colour and coverage were not always in places (such as deep blue trousers) what I had envisaged or was used to from a model paint tin but I was still very happy with my first attempt.
Several days later, the collection and reveal of the fired plate was quite exciting, wondering – Had it survived firing? Would it look alright?
The original light touch pencil sketch marks are burnt off in firing, which makes outlining the fine detail difficult on faces for example. You cant see where you have outlined in paint and what is pencil. None of yer fine finicky model paint brushes here either!
As well as painted detail, you can scratch lines into the ceramic paint to create the shiny white dot of well polished black boots or a line of braid, then picked out with yellow paint.
Two to three hours of design and paint, tea and cake, quickly shoot by, so you have to restrict the complexity of your design to what can be finished in the time. This is why I kept the toy fort sketchy in outline.
The whole circular parade on a plate design started with this rushing private soldier, who has either just slipped or is rushing to catch up the others. He has earned a suitable glare from a stern looking Sergeant Major.
The toy soldier plate will eventually be framed and hung above my work desk at home as part of my toy soldier collection.
I enjoyed the experience very much. I hope one day to do another session and paint a toy soldier design on a different object such as a mug to store my paintbrushes and pencils in.
I must admit to a new found respect for the skill of painted ceramics and even transfer prints like the Cath Kidston guardsman range of mugs and everyday items https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/13/cath-kidston-guardsmen/
Many thanks to Clair Roberts at the Kitchen Front http://www.thekitchenfront.co.uk/creative-skill-workshops-bude/
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, Inglorious 12th August 2017