Frequently asked questions

What does Ethulu stand for?
The word is a portmanteau word combining 'Ethnic' and 'Zulu'.

How do you make your masks?
All of my sculpture is based around traditional ceramic techniques. I use two different kilns to fire my sculpture firstly an electric kiln to bisque fire items and then a Raku kiln to glaze. I use predominantly crank clay, which is a superbly reliable, coarsely textured clay giving exceptional warp resistance and low shrinkage. Though this is the perfect clay for Raku, I do at times experiment with other clay bodies. I also use mixed media including glass and metal to adorn my pieces.

Are your masks hand-sculpted or made from a mould?
All of my masks and individually hand-sculpted. Clay is laid over a convex oval mould and the features are then sculpted by hand.

What is Raku?
Raku represents a style, a glaze and a technique of firing a piece to create magnificent scorched and crackled random patterns on an item of pottery. Special glazes are used to coat a piece and these usually contain metal oxides which react to heat and oxygen. A glazed item has to be headed up fast to very high temperatures and then plunged into sawdust or newspaper to draw the oxygen from the glaze. This creates beautiful effects across the glaze but also puts tremendous strain on the pottery decreasing the chance of its survival. Once fired this way and cooled it is very strong.
Please note: items fired in this way are ornamental and cannot be used to hold liquid or food. I do coat my pieces with a hard-wearing lacquer in order to protect the glaze from re-oxidation (oxygen being reintroduced into the glaze and as such changing the colour). Colour may also fade slightly over time, so if you intend displaying your piece outside or in direct sun you do so at your own risk. As a precaution, an extra coat of external clear varnish (gloss or satin) will help protect it, but shrinkage and expansion on the clay body could still cause cracking.

Hanging masks
It is worth bearing in mind that these items are crafted by hand and using minimal machinery, so it is natural that the finished article may contain small imperfections such as rough edges and asymmetrical lines. Please be assured that these should enhance the individuality of the piece and all have been quality accessed by me before sending. When hanging your piece, you will need to visually center it in its location - do not rely on spirit levels.

What is messy wire?
Messy wire is a technique where different coloured or precious metal wires and materials are entwined together to create a chunky, unique and organic piece.No two pieces will ever look the same.

What materials do you use in your jewellery?
I have tried to source the highest quality of materials for my jewellery designs. I use a variety of glass, bone, wooden and other beads in my designs.For my wire creations, I use a combination of silver or silver plate, brass and copper wires. My earrings are hypo-allergenic and I never use nickel in my jewellery.
In a number of cases I do create my own lampwork beads for my designs. All of my glass beads are kiln annealed for strength and durability and if treated with care will last for many years to come. I carefully clean the bead holes and inspect each bead as it comes out of the kiln.

How should I look after my jewellery?
Silver and gold plated wire will tarnish with time and wear. It is good to polish it frequently with a soft dry cloth to avoid tarnish. Also I recommend you protect your jewellery by keeping it in the box provided with your jewellery and storing it in a dry, cool place. Keep individual pieces separate to avoid scratching. To keep the condition of your jewellery looking new, always remove when showering, swimming or when undertaking manual or domestic work.

What materials do you use in your paintings?
In the case of oil/acrylic/mixed media, I paint on primed stretched canvas over a wooden frame. Paintings continue onto the sides of the frame so you need not have an additional frame put on it if you don't want to. In the case of watercolour, I use high quality watercolour paper at 300gsm. It is stretched prior to painting.

What are your candles made of and what should I know before using one?
Because of its clarity, I use gel wax to make some of my candles using metal-core wicks, as the gel burns hotter and slower than paraffin wax. I also make paraffin candles specifically for my created vessels and use different scents which will be specified on the item description. The vessels are made from crank clay which has been bisque fired and then Raku glazed. Once empty they can be used to contain water (except drinkable liquids or foodstuffs) but need to have a thick coat of varnish applied to their inner surface first. Candles get very hot and though their vessels are able to withstand this heat,as a precaution, please follow the safety tips below...
Please ensure candle is placed on a heat proof surface, as an overflow may occur
Never move while candle is lit or wax remains molten
Do not burn for more than 4 hours
Keep wick trimmed to 5mm
Keep away from draughts and flammable objects
Burn away from walls and overhanging surfaces
Never allow candle to burn to completion
Keep the wax free from any debris eg: used matches etc
Keep away from children and pets
Keep away from nets curtains and blinds
NEVER LEAVE YOUR CANDLE BURNING UNATTENDED

Can I serve food on your plates?
Unfortunately my plates are decorative and not suitable for serving or storing food that does not contain a wrapper (oranges are OK). This is because by nature Raku glaze is porous and crackles when fired and it also contains traces of metal oxides used to create the fabulous flashings that you see in the glaze.

Is you work signed?
Yes, I sign and date each piece and you also receive a letter of authentication.

Do you do custom work?
Absolutely! Please feel free to call or email any requests that you may have.

How is your work packaged?
Every care is taken to ensure that you receive you item(s) in perfect condition. If you have ordered a ceramic piece or painting it will be bubble-wrapped and placed in a box with polystyrene. If you have ordered apiece of jewellery, it will arrive in a white gift box with padding on the inside to protect the piece. Paintings will be securely bubble-wrapped.
'Fragile' stamps will be placed on all packaged items.

How do you post items?
Small items are sent Recorded Delivery (UK) or International Signed For(International). For larger items I will need to use a courier. Ethulu will try to group your purchases in one single package, however it may be necessary at times to divide your items into multiple packages.

What should I know before ordering?
Computer monitors display colors differently. The colors of our pieces may not look exactly like what you see on your monitor. If you have any questions on color, please let me know before ordering.
Many of my pieces are one-of-a-kind or very limited editions, therefore once it's sold, it's gone, so if you love it, order it!
Please double check everything before submitting your order. Check your address carefully. If you find that you would like several of a particular item, please email me to be sure I have the materials to fill your order. In most cases, that will not be a problem, however, it's always good to check.

All other questions regarding orders, delivery and postage etc.
Please see Terms and Conditions.

If your question is not answered on this page please don't hesitate to contact me.

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© Ashley Tarr / Ethulu 2020