some good, some bad

Some recent work including pieces mentioned in the previous post. The piece I am currently working on feels very personal to me. It’s the kind of piece which comes from your subconscious and takes time to unpick. It is obviously about old and new meeting, it is jarring and uncomfortable. I have always felt that my work is about celebrating imperfections (Wabi Sabi) but I think it is becoming more than that. Existentialism, immortality, permanence and impermanence are just some of the words that spring to mind. Having re-read my essay I have been reminded of what a good metaphor ceramics is for life, a permanent material which is inherently fragile. Pottery can be an emblem of fixity, I guess the fragments are a symbol of the past which is in a sense fixed. These pieces are also a reminder of my past and previous generations in my family, the part they play in shaping me (sometimes whether I like it or not!). The middle ‘new’ piece is organic and growing/still changing, broken in places but mended and stronger. Again I am reminded of this quote from Ruskin:

“imperfection is in some sort essential to all we know of life. It is the sign of life in a mortal body, that is to say, of a state of progress and change.” Ruskin (1997) p.92 This article on Ai Weiwei has helped to clarify some of the thoughts I have been having about my own work.


I have been really struggling with how to make the going from one form to another work. I started off by replicating a cup and saucer based on measurements taken from a fragment of each, I then started to think how I could get from the shape of a saucer to a cup, after a few a sketches I created a tall cylinder which I intended to push the saucer shape into (the diameter of the bottom of the cylinder matched the saucer. This however didn’t work so I decided to push a plate (junk shop find) through the cylinder. I then added more cylinders to the first with slight curves in to give the sense of something growing and organic. I have started to push fragments of another plate into the cylinder and intend on adding some metal fragments to the top. The top will have to be attached later as the piece is too big for the kiln.

I am unsure what this piece of works’ story is as it kind of evolved form a different idea. I feel like I have lost my way a little and I should re-read my original essay to remind myself what my original intentions were.

The first image is a piece by Ingo Maurer  it is fantastic (thanks Aimee) and not too dissimilar to another idea I had which was to start with a cake stand structure with an intact plate at the bottom which slowly changes into an intact cup at the top, the change would take place by fragmenting another plate and slowly adding cup fragments until it becomes a cup. Ingo’s piece really shows you how beautiful pieces of broken pottery can be, which I guess is one of my intentions.

The two other images are work by Thomas Heatherwick, looking at this work has made me re-think my ideas about scale!

Tutorial 18.05.11

It might be another tangent but I have spent this evening looking at Topology (doughnut to teacup!). I liked Nick’s suggestion of using two different fragments in one piece with a space in-between. If one was a piece from a plate and the other was from a cup how would you get from one form to another?

Topology is the study of those properties of mathematical objects that remain unaffected by smooth deformations, such as stretching and squeezing, but that don’t involve tearing. If you tried to go from a teacup to a plate the plate would end up with a hole in it because of the hole in a teacups handle, interesting and artistically not necessarily a problem.


Well the mould is finished. It’s not the best mould I have ever made (I forgot to wash off the soft soap so it’s a bit flakey) but it is intact.

I have just been playing about with what I can do with the mould, I started off by breaking the first piece and sticking it very crudely back together. At first I thought I would fire some of the pieces separately and apply decals thus creating my own fragments. I had left quite a few gaps so I then thought it would be interesting to re-pour the mould with a contrasting coloured slip which would (hopefully) just fill in the gaps. As you can see from the photos the results weren’t great, mainly because the first layer was too dry and fell out with the weight of the second layer. It does however have potential, I have used up all my slip on the first experiment so I am now in the process of learning how to make my own casting slip. I also thought that using paper clay would enable me to push he piece further, making it more able to withstand all the processes involved. I am also planning on re-visiting the idea of making my own fragments.

Swarch 28.03.11

I enjoyed learing how to mark the finds today, each piece has a code (relating to the dig) drawn on with pen and ink. They may also have subsequent numbers added by the museum they end up in. I have often been intrigued by these markings and this is something I have been considering using in my own work. I could perhaps use a code that relates to where the sherds were found – and ordinance survey grid reference, or to the number of pieces made or glazes tested. The images below are of some of the pieces I have marked at SWARCH.


Stoneware glaze experiments so far


Emmanuel Cooper Smooth White 1260 (from old edition of The Potter’s book of glaze recipes pg 164)

Feldspar 45

Dolomite 20

Whiting 10

Ball Clay 25

I then tested it with 10 different oxides:

  1. Copper Ox 4%
  2. Cobalt 1%
  3. Tin 8%
  4. Iron 7%
  5. Chromium 1%
  6. Nickel 2%
  7. Rutile 8%
  8. Manganese 4%
  9. Titanium 5%
  10. Vanadium 5%

Which were then all tested over each other (Greg Daly colour blend) which gave the 66 results in the picture. These were then tested on porcelain.



Susie Cooper

I have been given a broken Susie Cooper plate by a very good friend. This is the piece I am currently working on. I am considering using the individual fragments andimbedding each one in its own candy jar. When I was researching Susie Coopers work I was struck by the huge range of colours she used throughout her career, I felt a bit like a kid in a candy shop with such a rich array of colours and iconic shapes to choose from. I am currently in the process of making a 3 piece mould of an old plastic sweet jar and whilst that process has been happening I have been experimenting with an old jar mould I found in the back of the shed at work. The results of the casts from the old jar mould have been very clunky and ugly but it gave something to do whilst I am waiting for my mould to be finished.

I have also been considering fixing the above plate and turing it into a 3 tier cake stand with the top an bottom new plates reflecting the original colours or being white with the pattern etched into it.

image taken from: I want to buy this!