A treasure of antiquity, the Euphronios Krater, commemorates the death of military commander, Sarpedon, stricken during the Trojan war. This vase, and others like it depict the poetry of Homer as well as the many interactions of mortals with the gods. They were prized possesions awarded to olympic athletes and for acts of heroism. You can see a number of fine examples by visiting the Yale Art Gallery Hall of Antiquities (first floor, old building). There’s really no substitute for examining actual pieces, first hand ! Pay particular attention to the surface burnishing, linework, and dimensionality of the figures.
You’ll no doubt wonder how the ancient Greeks made and decorated such beautiful, commemorative ware. The actual 2500 year old process has been lost over the centuries; but you can learn about what archaeologists, art historians, and potters have done to rediscover it in Anita Griffith’s Thursday morning session (9am to noon). The group is working with the same type of clay (ie: terracotta) that the Greeks used, and special black and red slips known as Terra Sigilatta.
Usually CAW terracotta is fired in oxidation with commercial low fire glazes. However, the Greek potters are believed to have used a single, three-tier firing method involving periods of oxidation and reduction to obtain the unique red and black figures. No written records survive, so nobody knows for sure !
Anyway, in a spirit of discovery, Anita’s class is working with slip recipes expected to yield the correct colors just as they did for the ancients. They’ll be once-fired to a low temp (~ 950 C) in a downdraft kiln with selected periods of reduction targeted to recreate those world renown effects.
Join in on the fun ! If you’re interested in trying out some of your own ideas for the upcoming “Greek” firing ( now planned for May 29th ), make a terracotta piece and try some of our greenware decorative slips ! Be sure to put a slip of paper in your pot to identify it as a piece for the special “Greek Firing. “