Tuesday, 30 November 2010


In the snowy weather and sub-zero temperatures working in an unheated shed with icy water and rock hard clay is not very tempting...

While waiting for it to warm up a bit I have been sorting out my computer and trying to fix my old website. No luck on the website front yet so decided to post some images that were on it here instead;

My problem has always been that I cannot stop experimenting...  one day I will settle on and try to perfect a single technique/style... maybe..

... text, smoke and precious metal leaf seem to be three constants looking back over past couple of years... but I think for me, a lot of the fun is in the playing around with new ideas...

Friday, 26 November 2010


A brief, hectic week back in Dorset where I managed to do nothing with clay at all. However, the past two weeks of textile lessons have given me plenty of ideas for when I have a bit more time again;

. Felting was a real discovery and I can imagine integrating it into ceramics in many ways. First off will be a felt jumper for a pot with some stitched or dry felted landscape lines.

. Weave reminded me of a long-on-hold ceramic project to weave with clay

. sewing onto paper, without the use of thread, to create loads of tiny holes in a set pattern. These could then be used like a stencil with ceramic pigment dusted through the holes (I think its called spolvero)

. using fabric printing blocks to impress details into damp clay. This is something I have tried in the past. On my one attempt, I let the clay get too hard before trying to print and assemble so not very successful but the idea a good one and I will try again when I can give it a bit more time.

Friday, 12 November 2010

smoking stencils

Beakers fired as hoped, the wax resist leaving a small un-glazed area for smoking;

Using white spirit soaked sawdust, a quick flash of heat seals in smoke pattern. This method produces a lighter smoke colouration than the traditional bonfire;

Result: Not bad, subtle as hoped, maybe a little too subtle? The smoke pattern looks better close up. May need a little something extra to lift them - doing a lustre firing today and am thinking a few gold spots might enhance these? Will review tomorrow when had a chance to see how lustre firing went.

Fast Forward? Noticed when photographing these beakers that the designs when lined up had a remarkable similarity to the markings on old cassette or video recorders...

Thursday, 11 November 2010


Not sure where to draw the line between paper-cut and stencils... think they are the same thing, name just changing depending on what you do with them. We played around with stencils in class this week so I am calling this thread 'stencils' from now on.

A great tip I did learn at school was about applying paint to a stencil and how to reduce bleeding; use a dry brush, thick paint in very small quantities and stipple rather than brushing or sponging.

I stencilled some slip-cast pots with a wax solution before dipping in clear glaze - the glaze not sticking where there is wax so leaving a clear, un-glazed area. The wax will burn away and I should be left with white pots of even colour but small un-glazed portions which will only be noticeable by a change in texture. I will then smoke the pots and the smoke should only stick where there is no glaze...

I took a little inspiration from Antje Laidler's charcoal drawings as well as my earlier Portuguese tile beakers, keeping the shapes simple and geometric. The smoking should add an interesting random element.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

natural paints

Intrigued by the idea of making my own paints I gathered as many natural materials as I could before the frosts made it too late to collect berries for another year. Some materials I simply crushed and extracted the juice, others were boiled in water or vinegar. I used pva glue as a binder to make a basic kind of acrylic paint.

Unsurprisingly the colour variations are quite subtle. candle soot and turmeric were the only really strong tones but with a bit of mixing I covered most colours except green and blue. Concentrated grass juice would probably give a green and that could be mixed with a purple could start hinting at blue?

Natural paints used to create some blatant Euan Uglow still life copies

Friday, 5 November 2010


A couple of weeks of colour theory. While I do not use colour much at the moment, understanding more about it should help me be more effective with what I do use.

Following a suggestion from an artist friend and playing with complementary colours, I painted up a piece of wood in violet and ultramarine to use as a base for the yellow/orange Uglow beakers (yellow-violet and orange-blue being compliments);

on plain white background

on ultramarine painted background

on violet painted background

In theory, complementary colours should make each other brighter when placed next to each other. Not convinced by this example - to my eyes the yellows and oranges look most vivid on the plain white background. However, the strong ultramarine blue does lift the overall composition and look good next to the beakers. 

I was so focussed on taking the pictures that I did not really compare the set-ups visually, just set them up and took the pictures thinking I could compare on screen. However, I do not trust the camera completely as it was on auto and may have been adjusting factors to compensate for the colours. Although all pictures taken in same spot within 1 minute, they do look different and I think that when presented with a strong colour in the frame, the camera was overcompensating by making the overall picture lighter. More investigations, trusting my eye rather than the screen and manual camera settings needed...
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