j ellen Design LLC, had the pleasure of working with Calling Crow Creative to incorporate a beautiful custom vessel sink into a bathroom design. Each sink is hand painted by Leah Pereira, owner of Calling Crow Creative. These beautiful vessels generated quite a stir when we posted them on Facebook a couple of weeks ago so we thought we’d share more about how they’re made and how to get one of your very own!
First of all, what is a vessel sink?
A vessel sink is a sink that sits atop the countertop or vanity. On occasion, it can be recessed somewhat or partially, but most of the time the vessel sits right on top. Vessel sinks come in all kinds of colors and materials, including porcelain, glass, and metal. These sinks grab attention and can be a beautiful addition to any bathroom! LIke anything, they do come with obvious pros and cons; however, in the right space, a vessel sink is perfect and adds some serious style! If you’re looking for some WOW for your bathroom, a vessel sink might be it.
We sat down with Leah Pereira of Calling Crow Creative to find out how she makes these fantastic sinks.
What are the sinks made out of?
Leah: All of my hand-painted vessel sinks start with clear glass base.
How are they made?
Leah: All sinks are hand-painted with permanent, heat-fired, non-toxic paint. I typically begin a new design by creating a small prototype bowl first.
Prototype bowl? What’s the advantage of making two?
Leah: A small prototype bowl allows me to experiment with each design, and it gives the customer or designer the advantage of seeing a mini version in advance. With the small bowl in hand, they can decide if they want to make changes, either to the design or the colors.
With the red flower sink that’s was installed recently started as a bowl featuring a flower the customer loved. June then used that otherwise clear bowl to choose a background color that would work well in their powder room, and then I took the bowl back to add that background. Once the prototype was finished to their liking, the small bowl could be used by them to help choose other decor, like counter-top and paint, without the hassle of trying to match colors to a picture, or lugging around a heavy sink!
Sounds like extra work. Does it help you in the planning phase to make two?
Leah: In addition to helping to finalize a design and color scheme, the small bowl allows me to practice in advance and work out the methods I’ll need to use on the full-sized sink. Painting on glass is tricky, especially on a curved surface. Also, since all the painting is done on the *outside* of the sink but primarily *viewed* on the inside, I am always working in reverse, and partially blind. So having a chance to work on the smaller, lighter bowls first is extremely helpful.
How do you go from small bowl to full vessel sink?
Leah: After planning my layers and techniques, I thoroughly clean the sink, check for defects in the glass, and place it face-down on a turntable to begin working. Each layer has to be planned sequentially, starting with the small detail layers first and working out to the broad strokes. The paints themselves vary from thick to runny, and from opaque to translucent, depending on the color, so those factors have to be accounted for as well. Some colors run or pool easily, while others stay in place but dry so quickly that they’re hard to manipulate. And in between layers there’s always drying time required to prevent the earlier layers from being damaged or altered as the design progresses.
After completing the design to be viewed from the inside, it’s time to switch gears and prepare the outside viewing surface. Sometimes, as with the turquoise bowl, this requires adding opaque middle layers to prevent light from passing through the design, before re-engineering the design again on the outside surface. Other times, it involves layering of transparent colors to achieve a certain color or texture on the outside that compliments the interior design. Again, this all depends on the design itself.
After all the layers are completely dry (at least 24 hours, but sometimes longer) I turn the sink over and carefully clean all the excess paint from the lip, as well as any stray paint that may have found its way inside. Once cleaned and polished, the sink is fired at low heat to permanently cure the paint to the surface of the glass. This assures that the final sink design will be durable and protected from damage during everyday use. And of course, because the design is painted solely on the outside of the sink, daily use, care, cleaning, and maintenance of the inside is just like that of any other glass sink.
Have you ever made any mistakes while creating the vessel sinks? What’s the hardest part about making them?
Leah: Handling the sinks during the painting process is a tricky business, as it’s unforgiving. Accidentally touching the painted areas, either with a brush or a finger, before they’re fully dry can cause scratches or dings in the design that can’t be adequately filled or painted over. If this happens, I may have to clean all the paint off and start over from the beginning!
How can someone have a custom vessel sink made?
Leah: In addition to working with June (you can contact her by clicking here to start a vessel sink project), my sinks are also available locally at Keystone Carvings in Hudson or nationally through my Etsy store. I am also available on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.