New work and glaze experiments

I have started on the large-scale pancheons this week, I am beginning to really enjoy using the porcelain and terracotta slip, although I nearly lost one piece today due to my over enthusiasm! I am still experimenting with different glaze finishes, the latest images are a series of tests using a high percentage of stain in both matt and shiny earthenware glazes.

There is also a couple of images of the last balluster jugs the smaller one has holes ready for its handle, getting the handles right has been a real challenge and I wont know if it has worked until they are fired. Alongside the pancheons I have been working on more cut and shut pieces, the image is a maquette of a cup and saucer with a plastic rim and plastic bottle top handle, this idea needs a lot of work but if a get the join right between the components it could be really interesting.

I also couldn’t resist putting in a couple of images of my studio and the view!

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Baluster jugs

After my tutorial with Conor I began thinking again about using a traditional form which is related to the fragments I am working with. To start with I have decided to focus on the local 17th-18th century pot sherds. This got me thinking about who makes in a traditional style locally and of course Doug Fitch came to mind, he suggested I look at Baluster jugs and to think of them as people. I have always loved this form and hope that I can do it justice. The idea is to throw them in white stoneware clay (not traditional red earthenware) in order for the pot sherds to stand out. I may try firing some of them to stoneware so the sherds melt and bubble however my experiments with this so far have been pretty unpleasant to look at.

I also came across this quote from Nic Colins’ website

“PERFECTION DOES NOT MEAN BEAUTY

 So, I am very pleased with the firing. I have chosen my twenty pots and I now need to take my time cleaning them. Very often mistakes with the cleaning will ruin some of the best pots, just one slip with the grinder and there it goes. I am particularly pleased with the large jar from the firebox and I can say that is one of the best I have ever had. The pot was half buried in embers for most of the 4 day firing, with the ash melting and running around the pot and then with jet black carbon trapping contrasting with the deep orange red shino and of course the fossilised sea shell scars, a truly scrumptious pot.
I am very proud to display all of the marks and scars from the fire, indeed that is what I am looking for.
It’s never been an easy life as a potter but it’s one that I choose. Sometimes I see my work being described as: Rustic, Naïve, Careless or Roughly thrown. Well, I guess if I were looking at them from the outside, then I too might think the same. To me my work has developed over the years in an unconscious manner. By that I mean, that my work is where it’s at by gradual change, influenced by what the kiln offers.
When I first started making pots for the first 7 years, I sought to make well-thrown and affordable domestic wares. I still strive to fulfil those requirements of well-made and affordable pots. I have done a lot of soul searching over my work and sometimes wish I could go back and make pots, which are easier to sell. I have realised that it is impossible for me to do that. I could if I wished make pots, that were more commercially viable but my heart won’t let me.
My best pots have a part of me in them. I am not quiet sure how to put it into words, The good ones surely have a little of my soul in them. I love to play with the clay, using the softness, pushing the clay to its limit. Little mistakes and impurities are all of what in my eyes makes a good pot.
I like to compare my pots with interesting people. I find that as we all go through the trials of life, and all the ups and downs leaves a stronger and deeper character, not unlike the journey of the wood fired pot in the turbulent 4 day firing. Like a beautiful and attractive woman, just like a wood fired pot can be wobbly and carry the scars of life. After all perfection does not mean beauty. ”

These thoughts are very similar to my own, the glaringly obvious difference is that my work is a long way from achieving anything like the beauty I see in Nic Collins work but I feel that I am on the right path so to speak.

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.