Its been a while since I’ve been on the wheel, apart from demonstrating in classes – mainly because I am so busy with classes.
Regular readers may know that last October I moved my home studio into a shop in Ballarat Central. This means I have increased my pottery classes, have introduced mosaic classes, and have also invited guest artists to run workshops. As well there are also art supplies, an exhibition space and locally made giftware. All this adds up to a very busy routine.
A little while ago, however, I received an order for some mugs, so this provided a need and some inspiration to jump back on the wheel. The order was for mugs made from BRT clay, so I conditioned a bag to make it nice and soft for fast centring and jumped in the saddle.
The order was for four mugs, so I made twelve – you never know what the kiln gods will do! Besides, I wanted a set for the shop, and I fancied one for myself.
I threw the mugs in one throwing session and finished with a tall cylinder vase using approximately 1.8kg clay, leaving it on the wheelhead to dry. I was quite happy with the result, so a few days later I threw another vase using 2.1kg of BRT clay, which you can watch in the video below.
Next I will have a go with 3kg of clay, so stay tuned!
As some of you may have noticed I haven’t posted on this blog for months!! This is because I opened a shop in Central Ballarat where I am teaching pottery classes amongst other things.
Regular readers may know that I taught for years from my home studio which had been renovated and even extended…. but I kept outgrowing it. So in October I moved the whole shebang to the shop/studio and have been flat out ever since. The shop’s window display features locally made giftware, there is an exhibition space, art and pottery supplies, casual studio space hire, kiln service, and classes by myself and other guest artists…. you can check everything out on the ClayMotion website.
Even my weekends have been taken up lately with preserving all the goodies from our garden.
But this weekend I decided to get back into a bit of art. One of the guest artists this month is running some acrylic pouring workshops at the studio, and being inspired, I decided to have a bit of fun at home. So I watched a few YouTube vids and plunged in!
I used coconut milk as my additive to achieve cells on all of last nights paintings, and I am going to use nail polish remover in the next batch, which I am hoping to tackle tonight. I didn’t pour my canvases over a try, but instead lay grease proof paper over newspaper. This is so that when the excess that poured off the canvases dry I can peel them off as acrylic skins. I then want to cut them into shapes and mount them in glass dome cabochons to make jewellery. So stay tuned for that blog post 🙂
Below I will explain my process for each painting … so read on!
This was the first painting I did, I applied the paint by layering the colours in a funnel allowing for more control of application, however I didn’t pour enough paint for it to be fluid enough. The paint was also a bit too thick, and perhaps I didn’t add enough coconut milk. So I had to spread the paint manually which blended the colours together a bit too much and no cells developed. So I decided to try a technique I saw on YouTube called the String Pull Technique, and I think it worked out quite well. After pouring the canvas a piece of string is coated with paint laid on the wet canvas in a shape – for me it was a squiggle – and then pulled off the canvas in a downward motion. I did it with white first, then black and then two with glitter gold. I then pulled a craft stick through some of the wet paint to create different effects. Here’s a vid of what I did (its quite big so keep scrolling down for more info):
The second painting I quite like and I created it using a dirty pour. This is when you layer the paints in a cup and then turn the cup onto the canvas and leave it to run to the bottom of the cup. Although I thinned the paint down a little it still wasn’t quite enough and I think I still needed a little more coconut milk. Although there are a few nice cells and quite a few really small ones I do like the colours and the way the overall composition turned out.
Here’s a vid of the dirty pour (again it is big, so keep scrolling):
The next painting had much better cell development. I thinned the paint down much more and added more coconut milk. Again it was created with a dirty pour.
And the final painting had even better cell development – not quite enough, but better. It was also created using a dirty pour. I do like the middle swirls too. It looks a bit galaxy like.
I enjoyed the process and liked how it is very similar to slip marbling and feathering on pottery. This has set my mind racing to try the string pull on a plate!
And now I am off to do some more playing!
Last week I facilitated a pit firing workshop for a community project which is part of a group exhibition commemorating the work of Landscape designer Edna Walling. One of the exhibiting artists Heather Hesterman is creating an installation consisting of ceramic pinch pots en masse and plants referencing Walling’s love of constructing gardens. The pots have been made by Hesterman’s friends, acquaintances and members of the community, both adults and children, coming together to make approximately 300 palm sized pots.
During Hesterman’s research for the project she discovered an anecdote found in Walling’s writings, indicating Walling’s joy of witnessing a friend hand-build a small pot from clay, fire it and then fill it with the local native plant species, Thomasia petalocalyx. This event together with ‘The Chalet’, which Walling had built along the Great Ocean Road, being burnt down, along with 2 other residences, inspired Hesterman’s methodology in developing the installation.
Part of that methodology involved the firing of the clay pots made during the project – enter a pit firing! As regular readers may know usually when I pit fire I add lots of varying organic ingredients and wrap the pots in seaweed, gum leaves, copper wire and the like. This endows the finished pots with a vibrant dappled colour response. Hesterman, however, wanted the smoky greys and blacks of fire to be captured on the pot surfaces, so the pit was fired using only sawdust. The sawdust creates a higher likelihood of a reduction atmosphere in the pit allowing for carbonisation of the clay surface.
The firing was successful overall with results ranging from soft smoky greys through to strong oil slick blacks.
Lisa Byrne, Director of ArtSpace at Realm, Maroondah City Council, is curating a group exhibition The Creative Legacy of Edna Walling. The exhibition commemorates the work of Landscape designer Edna Walling with artists Heather Hesterman, Rebecca Mayo and landscape designer/construction Sam Cox.
The exhibition will be held at the gallery ArtSpace at Realm, Ringwood Town Square, 179 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood. 03 92984553, 19 Sept – 13 Nov 2017, with the official opening on Saturday 21 October 2-4pm.
More information can be round on the website artsinmaroondah.com.au
And now enjoy the pics of the sawdust firing process 🙂
Evening all, it is freezing here tonight with possible snow expected, so I am keeping warm by reminiscing on the bonfire firing I did a couple of weeks ago.
Every year around this time we do a clean up for the summer to reduce fire hazards during the bushfire season, and in the lead up to that I make beads and pendants which I pack into an old milo or coffee tin with sawdust, seaweed, cow dung – pretty much anything I would put into a pit firing. The tin is snuggled in amongst the branches and leaves and set alight. The tin is usually ready to pull from the ashes the following afternoon – depending on how big the bonfire was!
I have published previous posts about bonfire firing which you can read HERE.
So tonight I am experimenting with some jewellery designs with the beads that emerged from the bonfire. I have already listed one pair of earrings in my ETSY shop from this firing and there will more to come, and some necklaces.
My other exciting news is that I have had an article published in the latest edition of The Journal of Australian Ceramics. This latest edition was focused on fire, so I wrote an article about pit firing. Visit their website to find out more about getting a copy of the journal.
And now for some pics from the bonfire and finished jewellery pieces – thanks for stopping by and see you next time 🙂
Readers may know I have been a bit absent from this blog lately, as per my last BLOG POST, so I haven’t offered a Sunday studio visit for a while.
Readers may also know that I love sustainability, recycling and upcycling, as illustrated by lots of past jewellery POSTS, and of course the PRESERVING frenzy I go into during the growing season! So with the recent giant iceberg break away from the ice shelf in Antarctica, and all the other crazy occurrences in the world at the moment, my mind has been drawn toward new ways of using synthetic products our society has created and can’t be recycled – such as CDs which are now largely obsolete!
I don’t know about you but I have hundreds of CDs…. from kids games, to movies to data storage, and I have never thrown them out because i just couldn’t bring myself to adding to the city dump!!
So, after a bit of research and refinement I have made a few jewellery pieces using cut up CDs with the addition – in some – of acrylic paints.
I will be making more of these pendants soon as I have heaps of CDs and enjoy the process, so the next time I do some making I will take some process shots for a tutorial.
In the meantime I have actually listed my first piece in my ETSY shop! Happy weekend and see you next time 🙂
Today is Mothers Day and my mum, sister and son are visiting – so I am not doing anything in the studio today. My other sister is away on holidays in Western Australia, and my other son in the midst of travelling around Australia in a caravan! So it the three of us – plus hubby!
So I will share with you what I would’ve done today, but did yesterday instead, because I knew I couldn’t do it today – wow, how complicated!
You may remember from my last post that I threw lots of bowls, earrings holders, yarn bowls and oil burners a few days ago. So today (yesterday) I turned and carved everything ready for drying, bisque firing and then glazing. I am quite happy with how everything turned out – and even experimented with a prototype for a light/lamp shade.
One of the freshly turned yarn bowls is already SOLD after sharing the image below on my INSTAGRAM account – so get in fast!!
Here is a gallery of the finished freshly turned pieces…. looking forward to seeing how they turn out after gazing!
Phew – it has been a busy afternoon making in the studio!
A combination of being ‘sold out’ and custom orders in my ETSY shop meant I was making yarn bowls, oil burners, earring holders and tapas bowls. It is Autumn here at the moment (though it feels like Winter), so these creations will be ready for turning and cutting on Wednesday afternoon – I think!
The yarn bowls need the needle holes and yarn spiral cut out; the earring holders need the earwire holes cut; and the oil burner need the candle hole and oxygen holes cut out.
This is a delicate operation as applying too much pressure while cutting can cause warping after glaze firing – clay has a memory, which means that the clay particles remember how they have been aligned and stretched! Clay is a living being!!
I also made a set of tapas/dipping bowls for a local restaurant. Yesterday I delivered a set of coffee/soup cup and saucers to this restaurant, and they placed another order – yay me!!
Well, that’s a wrap for today! I’m a bit tired!! See you next time 🙂
Well, we have certainly had a great season in the vegetable garden with lots of zucchinis, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, apples – the list goes on! We have also had a fab season for pumpkins and this afternoon we picked them all as we are having an early frost tonight which may kill the vines, but could also freeze the pumpkins so that when opening – say in three months time – they will be slop… not even OK to make soup with potentially.
(PS – I plan to do a painting of these pumpkins – aren’t they gorgeous!)
So not only did we (hubby & I ) pick the pumpkins I then went into the studio to make some platters, plates, coasters, rings and pendants impressed with pumpkin leaves. This idea has been popular in my ETSY shop so I thought I should make more while I still had the leaves available!
And this is an idea of the finished product 🙂
I hope to make more leaf imprinted plates and jewellery using whatever may be in season at the time – so stay tuned 🙂
Today, April 22nd is Earth Day – are you doing anything special? Planting a tree, turning your lights, tv and computer off for a few hours?
I am not planning on doing anything special per se – my television never goes on until about 9pm at night for the news anyway! … and I do, on a daily basis, try to live sustainably, so will do more of that today with a little more mindfulness during the day.
I find it important to recycle and reuse as much as possible, especially in the current political state of climate change scepticism.
I also consider it important because as a ceramic artist I do use alot of gas, water and electricity. My clay and glaze ingredients have a large carbon footprint also, in terms of miles travelled and mining.
I try as much as possible to offset this footprint by growing as much food as possible, composting waste, not using chemicals when cleaning, being a vegetarian, and of cause recycling as much as possible.
Here in Dunnstown,, where I live, we are approaching the end of the Summer/Autumn growing season and I have been doing lots of preserving, bottling and preserving – I will be doing more of that today. I still have lots of apples left which I will be using to make more apple chutney and apple paste (which is great with strong blue cheeses). I have made bottled apples in the past, which were great, so I might make more of them too. I have also recently delved into raw apple cider vinegar!
As followers of my ETSY shop may know – and if not you will now – as well as making ceramic homewares and jewellery, I also make a range of jewellery made from upcycled materials such as guitar strings, plastic bottles, buttons and beads. Love jewellery, or know someone who does? Today, being Earth Day is the ideal day to purchase an upcycled gift for yourself or a friend…. and remember Mothers Day is coming up on May 14th.
I have been a bit preoccupied lately with all the preserving and fermenting from the summer/autumn garden so have not been doing a great deal of making… but recently I had a custom order from my ETSY shop for twelve ceramic buttons so took the opportunity to also make some extra buttons and some pendants at the same time.
The buttons turned out beautifully. The customer wanted them to add a unique and jazzed up element to a denim jacket which she wants to take on holiday with her at the end of April! I love these kinds of stories that accompany custom orders and hope she will be happy with them! I think she will…
The pendants, which I will list as necklaces and earrings in my ETSY shop, are just in time for Mothers Day – May 14th. I have assembled some of them and will be listing them over the coming week. If your mum/sister/girlfriend/wife/aunt/nana/partner or female friends anywhere love both handmade and jewellery these are the perfect gifts!
See you soon!