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Ceramic Custom Order : Dog Pet Portrait

pet portrait of a dog

A few weeks back, I made a little Cairn Terrier for Maud. She ordered it for a gift and here’s how it went. At first, she sent a few pictures of Burzun, the small black Cairn terrier. Black pets are hard to portrait especially around the eyes. I have a few options that I like to solve this little issue. 

cairn terrier noir
Photo : Nicolas Zaug

1 – Pet Portrait : Sculpture

I got several pictures on July 27th. I chose the laid down dog for this little one. This sculpture step is quite quick. I break it down in several phases like a painting: rough, drying time, details, cleaning. Here are some pictures of the clean clay pet portrait. 

dog pet portrait ceramics
Sculpture of the little dog pet portrait

2 – Painting a dog’s pet portrait 

Once I got the clean sculpt to the bone dry phase, I paint it. I took advantage of Burzun’s whitening little face to add the eyes on a lighter background. They pop out more and I could also add the little pink cheeks signature. The colors will dramatically change with each firing, the grey will become black and the brush texture will show. 

3 – First Firing – Bisque 

The first firing goes through to about 1000°C, which requires a special oven called a kiln. This step allows the colors to sink in and then I’ll glaze the figurine. You can see the colors already changed from the raw clay.

first firing pet portrait
After the first firing

4 – Glazing and last firing

The second firing is usually the last one. Glazing is just a quick dip in a glazing solution. It’s made of very fine mineral particles and water mostly. When a bisque fired clay piece goes into the glazing solution, the excess water is absorbed by the porous clay and a powder is left on the piece. When fired to cone 6, that’s around 1200°C, it vitrifies and becomes a clear shiny coating. I finished this piece on august 20th. 

cairn terrier pet portrait

5 – Making the box and shipping 

Once finished; I send a link to my client so that they can order their piece. Then I’ll take care of the box drawing and shipping. That’s it for this cute dog; the whole process took approximately 4 weeks from the order to the shipping.

pet portrait of a dog
Dog picture / Maud

If you’d like to commission a pet portrait, check out all the info about them. There are a few things you’d want to know, mainly : I don’t do realistic, it’s always cute and simple, and it takes time.