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Pearl - the Chalked Fairy - Chalks: Article or Project

Project piece: Duncan bisque - resting fairy (22707)

Duncan O.S. #1 flat BR-554
#3 round BR-551
#5 flat BR-556
stain and detail brushes

Colors: Duncan PL195 Golden White

palette knife
small palette or tile
paper towels
hard pastel chalks

More Details

Often when I tell people that I use chalks for my ceramic pieces, they give me a strange look. "chalks? But don't they burn off when you're firing?" These are generally people who forget that there are many different methods and materials that ceramists use all the time to make unique pieces. I first started using hard pastel chalks to highlight my acrylic/stained works, and was thrilled with the results I achieved. Pearl is different though; her colouring comes completely from chalks, applied over a pearlized acrylic basecoat. I've tried to make the following instructions as simple and comprehensive as possible, complete with photos, and I hope that you'll enjoy this project.

1. wipe all dust from the piece with paper towel and use an eraser to remove any pencil or other marks

2. apply one smooth coat of Golden White pearl to all surfaces [Fig. 1] and allow to dry thoroughly

Fig. 1 (see photos on top right of this project article)

3. prepare chalks by scraping them lightly with a palette knife to loosen small flakes [Fig 2]; after chalks have been used for the first time, this step will be unnecessary, and chalk can be picked up directly from the sticks with brushes that are most suitable for dry brushing [note: be sure to clean brushes thoroughly by brushing several times on a dry paper towel before switching to a new colour]

Fig 2
[note: I usually use a large set of chalks, with many different choices of colours; however, if only basic colours are available, as in the above set, blending and mixing your own colours can be a fun part of chalking. For this project, scrape white and red and blue and red onto a palette to combine for pink and purple]

4. using a medium flat brush, apply flesh color to the face and body, yellow to the flower, tan to the hair, and green to the dress, holding the piece by the wings when necessary, and blowing off excess chalk as you go; spray lightly, avoiding wings. Repeat to deepen colours [Fig 3-3a]

Fig 3

Fig 3a

5. switch to a small flat brush; apply orange to the flower centre, green to the leaves

6. using the same small flat brush (after cleaning it of course) stroke colours onto each section of the wings: a blue stripe down the middle, pink above and purple below; blending can be done as you go or on each section after all three colours have applied [Fig 4-4a]

Fig 4

Fig 4a

7. when the wings are complete, front and back, spray them lightly to set the chalks

8. using a small round brush, add highlights and lowlights:
a. for the dress, use green in creases and shadows, and apply green mixed with white to raised areas of the chest and skirt
b. for the flower, use orange in creases and along petal edges and undersides; dab a green rim to one side of the centre
c. lightly brush yellow over the leaves
d. for the hair, use light brown in creases, then brush yellow very lightly over the rest of the hair
e. brush a bit of pink on the cheeks and lips and blue on the eyelids

9. Finally, use dark brown acrylic to draw fine lines for the eyes and eyebrows, then apply a full and even coat of matte or porcelain spray to the entire piece

Happy chalking!

Many thanks to Connie Wawruck Hemmett for sharing this wonderful project and technique.


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