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A picture of Debra Broz

Debra Broz

Artist, ceramics restorer

in artist

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Debra Broz and I'm an artist and ceramics restorer. I've been doing ceramics restoration since late 2005, and I mostly work with private clients (art and antiques collectors, people who have sentimental items that are damaged). Ceramics restoration is done with "cold" techniques so I don't use a kiln or any clay or traditional glazes. The process is sort of like trompe l'oeil - I'm using epoxy clay, acrylic paints and mediums to make the restored areas look like the original ceramic.

I had an art degree before I learned ceramics restoration and was already making art, but when I learned restoration that was when I started working with figurines to make sculptures. I use mostly mid-century kitsch animal figurines and combine them into reimagined versions of their former selves. The works are funny in sort of an uncanny valley, mad-science sort of way.

What hardware do you use?

The main tool I use is a Dremel with a flexible extension with sanding and cutting bits, but my flexible extension just stopped working so I'm thinking I'm going to upgrade to a Fordham tool. It's got a nifty foot pedal to help control the speed. For cutting ceramics I use a Dremel Ez-Lock Diamond Cutting wheel, and for most of my sanding I use a set of diamond bits from Harbor Freight that come in a variety of shapes.

I use a simple airbrush (Paasche H series) - it's the most basic model, and I like it because it's so simple, inexpensive, and has an open cup situation so it's easy to change colors or manipulate the color you're using directly in the side cup (instead of mixing color then pouring into the cup). I use a 10 gallon California Air Tools "quiet" compressor, which isn't that quiet but it's quieter than many compressors.

Otherwise I use a lot of acrylic paint brushes. I prefer soft, cheap ones mostly because I am terrible at washing my brushes so I ruin them very quickly. The only time I spend money on brushes is when I get the really tiny ones because the higher quality ones are much better at keeping their shape when you're doing detail work. I love a good 0/5 size brush.

I also have a number of plastic and rubber-tipped tools I use for sculpting. My favorite one is a plastic one that is kind of flat with a tapered end.

Thankfully, I don't have to use a computer much for my work, except for photo editing and website updating. I have a PC, which I prefer (I know it's an unpopular opinion)

And what software?

Since I don't use the computer much except for photo editing, the only software I use is Photoshop, though I've been pondering learning InDesign so I can put together a book. Since that's such a basic answer, I'm going to use the term "software" to apply to materials I use to make my work. My preferred paints are Golden Fluid Acrylics, usually watered down or thinned with acrylic medium to use them in the airbrush. I use a TileLab tile sealer as a finish coat on most things. I like it because it's very thin, sandable, and can be polished to get a really high-shine finish. I use a lot of Apoxie Sculpt, a two-part sculpting clay that dries via chemical reaction. It can be sculpted when wet, or sanded when dry, so it's great for filling gaps and creating new parts. I also use a huge variety of sandpaper, in grits ranging from 150 for basic shaping to 2000 for sanding finish coats that will be polished.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup is always more space - more storage space, more working space, more shelving, more space for everything to stay organized, and a designated "clean space" for photography and to temporarily set up installations. A separate room to cut things would be ideal because it generates so much dust, and a nice ventilation system for airbrushing. A dream space would also have great lighting - a mix between natural and artificial. I do a lot of color-matching so my favorite spaces have bright, even, neutral light. An easily accessible outdoor space also adds a lot to a studio situation. It's lovely to be able to work outside for a bit when it's nice, or just to have a place to escape to if things aren't going quite right in the studio and you need a break.

This dream studio situation would also be near a few thrift stores so I can easily go out and hunt for materials, and nearby a taco place and a convenience store because access to a little treat now and then is critically important.