Why do it that way? Because the iron oxide is heavy furniture color-wise. Iron oxide is nothing more than rust powder mixed with water and it makes everything rust colored. Which I like. Which is why I use it.
So why did I subvert the normal order today? For one, I was all carved out. Yesterday I carved three plates and a retablo. (Plates take from two to four hours (or more). Retablos take from one to six hours (or more). That's a lot. Even a simple design like this takes an hour plus--though this was not carved yesterday. Yesterday I carved for about eight hours.)
So today I picked up my carving tools and The Brain just rebelled; nothing doing.
When that happens, I usually can kick The Brain into gear by looking through the reference materials I have on my shelves at the studio. I started with my old biology textbook. Then I looked at Albinus on anatomy. Then I got desperate and read some Shakespeare. (Yes, I have always always always had my Complete Works of Shakespeare on my shelf at the studio. Sometimes The Brain needs a little Titus Andronicus jump start.)
pencil marks, which burn out in the firing, as guidelines
This was a throwaway piece, this little calavera, (throw away because I carved it out of a slab of clay that had gone far too dry to carve without wrecking my tools in the pursuit of failure, so I cut away the dryest bits and wetted the rest down over the course of several hours until it could hold a simple design like this).
I could concentrate on painting simple mendhi-ish designs in black and white (with a red border added hours later), and that's what I did.
I'm not fond of the border. I may paint it out with black...
The rest of the time I made a few small plates to paint with what I hope are going to be some fairly interesting old-school tattoo designs. I also used a cookie cutter to cut out a bunch of random hearts. Then I reorganized my shelves. And I fed Albus. And I hung out at the studio.