bisque stage tiki mugs
tiki mugs in kiln
Mike Biggs @biggsstudio has been bangin’ out tattoos with our studio for the past nine years. While Mike is an accomplished tattoo artist, illustrator and painter, he has gravitated toward three dimensional art forms in recent years. Mike has been seen sculpting with clay back in the creative room here at the shop for some time now.
About a year ago, Mike decided to do his sculpting with a program called “ZBrush” on his personal computer at home. He acquired a “state of the art” 3D printer recently and is really having fun producing some amazing pieces without getting his hands dirty. Mike doesn’t care for the dirty work!
A prototype is 3D printed for making a plaster mold. These molds can be complicated and may have as many as six pieces that all fit together. Once the mold is made, he pours in a mixture called “slip” which is basically watered down clay. This slip adheres itself to the inside of the mold until the desired thickness is achieved. The work stay in the mold for a couple hours until it hardens.
After the piece is removed from the mold, Mike will carefully trim the excess and clean up the piece to make it ready for firing. The first firing in the kiln lasts about thirteen hours. This process is known as “bisque firing”. This kiln runs around two thousand degrees Fahrenheit. That sounds pretty hot to me! Yikes!!!
The next step is to spray on a custom colored glaze which goes back in that super hot kiln for another six hours or so. This is called “glaze firing”. This literally melts the glaze on to the piece. This process is also know as vitrification. Gotta throw in a big word now and then!
Mike says it makes him feel like an alchemist doing this style of art work. While he has decided he prefers making Tiki mugs, he has also experimented with flower pots, baby heads and arms (not weird at all), ash trays and to quote Mike, “other dumb shit”. Though he calls it “dumb shit”, he has sold most of the pieces he has made and has successfully paid for all of the equipment required to accomplish these works of art. That is always a bonus!
All of us here at Studio 21 Tattoo enjoy working with Mr. Biggs and look forward to seeing what macabre sculpture his weird and wacky brain comes up with next! Keep up the good work Mr. Biggs. We certainly all enjoy it.
Studio 21 Tattoo Gallery, Inc.