Thursday, 30 October 2014

Second year - ceramics and new discoveries

Back in college for a few weeks now. Hard for me, as at the start of the new 'semester' (grrr, we are in the UK. It's 'term') my mother had died. I was in a bubble for the first month, not really taking much in.

Ceramics has filled a void. This new discovery has helped me to deal with bereavement, helping to take my mind off my mum (while thinking of her most of the time.)

I am, excuse the pun, fired up! I have to say, most of this enthusiasm is nurtured by tutor Martin, along with incredibly sweet and helpful technician Michael. Both have been supportive, full of great suggestions, and patient. I have learned so much in a short time - how to mix glazes, make a plaster mould, a slip cast bow, use the extruder. Still a lot to learn but I am confident that with what I know so far, I can indulge myself in clay to my heart's content.

Ironically, my step-mother was a potter, and as I grew up with her pots and vases would appear around the house. This was the 70s, an experimental period, and she created harsh texture, random glazing, a technique of her own. She had a kiln, a wheel ... but it all passed me by. I had no interest in learning - a missed opportunity, I now realise.

However, it is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks or do discover things you can do with clay.

As a textile artist, I have tried experimenting with some of my coil pots. I made these during the summer, producing baskets full of plates, mats, pots and hanging decorations using strips of cotton fabric and a washing line.

textile coil pot

hand stitched coil twine dipped in slip and coiled into a plaster mould
before ...

embroidered doily dipped in slip
 These I rinsed in water, then dipped into casting slip. Allowed to dry, they were biscuit fired. And disintegrated.

Most of them crumbled, but a few were more or less intact so I have since carefully glazed them and submitted them to be stoneware fired. Watch this space ...
...and after.