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I’m in the preliminary stages of a large (44 inch tall) carved raku tile panel, an image of an egret, canna lilies and palmetto. The design is a combination of botanical and bird studies from my nature sketchbook — I like to draw my subjects first, to get to know their angles and curves better before carving them into clay.

The raku tiles are individually rolled out on a slab roller, compressed energetically with a wooden rib, then trimmed to size with a needle tool. I work slowly and carefully, with the goal of having all the edges match up as nearly perfectly as I can make them.  Then I’m ready to draw the basic design in the tile surfaces, which I do freehand with my needle tool. Here’s a section of a canna lily:


Finally, when the whole design has been drawn, I will cover the panel lightly and let it rest overnight. By tomorrow afternoon, when the tiles have lost their stickiness, they’ll be just right for carving the relief into the clay surface. See you tomorrow!