New Mexico Small Business Assistance: Solving small business challenges through laboratory expertise SUBMIT request for assistance NMSBA Los Alamos National Laboratory Sandias National Laboratory

Client Highlights

Squlptures/Art Retreat Workshops
"I knew that the problem was something beyond my ability to solve and would be useful to everyone else who makes clay prints. The help I received—it’s something I could not have gotten anywhere else."

A longtime artist and sculptor, Carrie Quade of Squlptures, Inc., started Art Retreat Workshops in her studio to teach clay monoprinting. But she ran into trouble when she found that foreign materials in the clay spoiled the unique printing style and interrupted her classes.

To create the prints, batches of pigmented clay are applied with water to a clay slab, embedding the colors into the slab. After inscribing artistic designs in the clay, paper is rolled onto the slab to pull up the multi-colored design from the top layer of wet clay.Quade found the process worked well for a weekend project, but if the slab rested for a few days, prints from the slab would show blotches or pull up clay clumps. Because artists like Quade can use a clay slab for many years, the issue seemed overwhelming.

Through the NMSBA Program, Quade worked with Amy Allen, from Sandia National Laboratories, to identify
the materials in the clay causing the problem. Using a variety of testing including electron microscopy and mass spectroscopy, Allen identified the material as a surfactant, a compound that reduces the water’s surface tension.

Quade is following through on procedure recommendations from Allen, which should allow her business to resume.