This tag is associated with 52 posts

Sunday Studio Visit – or rather Sunday Kitchen Visit!

The firing schedule is really busy at the moment in the studio due to my ceramic classes and also my own art work …. so I am firing the kiln today, mostly with student works, plus a few of my own artworks.

But my attention today has been in the kitchen – it is that time of year again!

An abundance of produce has meant preserving – so today’s efforts involved squash relish and fermented cucumbers.

We enjoyed a sample of the relish on tonight’s dinner – zucchini (from the garden) and corn patties accompanied by said relish! It was so good…

I wont be able to sample the cucumbers for a week as they need to ferment – but i’m sure they will be yummo!

The other cool thing about having a vegetable garden are the pumpkin and zucchini leaves which leave a great impression on clay. These plates have a pumpkin leaf impressed into the surface which has been highlighted with black copper oxide and finished with a clear glaze. I am pretty happy with them, even though one cracked! I will be making more, and will have to do so in the next month before the plants die off as Winter approaches.

So until next week – have fun! But hopefully I post before then!

Sunday Studio Visit – bits and bops

Happy Sunday everyone!

Last Sunday I shared with you some bowls I was making as a custom order from my¬†ETSY shop which was to be a wedding present. I said I would post an image of the bowls mid-week….. but life just got too busy and I didn’t ūüė¶

However, here is a pic now! I was happy with the bowls, their uniformity and the finished glazed product which strengthened the uniformity of the set further. The bowls were sent on Wednesday with loads of bubble wrap, so I hope the newly wedded recipients love them too!

Dawn Whitehand ceramic bowl set

As far as today goes, I have FINALLY gotten around to glazing the pumpkin plate sets I made almost a year ago – I know it was this long ago because they were made with last years pumpkin leaves from the garden.

Plates impressed with Pumplin Leaves

Plates impressed with Pumplin Leaves

Hopefully – all things being equal – these plates will be finished in time for the BOAAmerch Showroom opening this coming Friday night.

Dawn Whitehand pumpkin leaf plates

I also listed a pumpkin plate in my ETSY shop tonight which I made during the same time last year РI had listed one a few months ago, and this is another in a different glaze. I think it looks pretty cool! The glaze is ovenproof, microwave proof and dishwasher safe, making it ideal for everyday use as a serving plate and for warming up and cooking food!


Well, that’s about it for today’s studio visit – hopefully see you midweek!

Sunday Studio Visit – reduce, reuse, recycle

During the week hubby broke a wine glass (again) and blamed the dishwasher (again). It seemed a shame to throw away yet another glass so I decided to have a bit of fun.

About a week prior hubby had also broken a hanging terrarium in the bathroom. I had salvaged the cactus and moss and stones and had them stored in a plastic bag. So I decided to cut down the broken wine glass and create a mini succulent garden!

I cut the glass using a diamond rotary cutting tool on my dremel. Then I smoothed down the rough edges with silicone carbide paper in varying textures, finishing with the finest.

While the edges were smooth and not sharp they were a bit uneven – it was the first time I had used the dremel in this way. So I applied some copper foil used for leadlighting to the edge.

Next I planted my rescued cactus and moss, and planted a cutting of succulent from my garden. I think it looks pretty cool!

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.


Apart from that I am also firing the kiln today. The kiln contains the set of custom bowls I posted about last week and some student works. Tomorrow I will be glazing the bowls and reloading the kiln for glaze firing. Hopefully all will be on track to post the order on Tuesday.


All going to plan I will post a pic of the finish bowls on Tuesday before I package them up.

Until then, have a great week!

Ceramic Pit firing – New sculpture.

Hope everyone is having a great week ūüôā

Following on from the previous POST I have now pitfired all of the sculptural works I made for the exhibition in ContainArt – yes I got the fire permit ūüôā


It has been very warm over the past few weeks, so it was great that the day I¬†chose to do the firing was only a 26C day… but, of course, we still needed a beer by the end of it (or maybe before the end of it!)

I have since installed the exhibition, but am a bit behind in my posts because – yes – I am still sick!! It comes and goes in waves and is driving me crazy!!

Anyways…. here are some pics of the pit firing, and the next post will be pics of the installed exhibition…. so stay tuned ūüôā

Sunday Studio Visit – new sculpture

Evening all – I hope everyone had a great Christmas & New Year ūüôā

I have mostly recovered from my stretch if illness which made it difficult for me to keep up to date on the blog posts, so hopefully I will be a bit more regular this year!

Today I have been making new sculpture for an exhibition I am having in ContainArt which I¬†am installing on the 11th January – YES, it is going to be a rush!! With having being ill and then indulging in¬†Christmas festivities I couldn’t get to making any earlier.

I’m hoping to pit fire some of the pieces and it is fire restrictions time in Australia so I have to apply for a permit – hopefully that comes through OK.

The exhibition will consist of ceramic sculpture and photography – but no more information…. all will be revealed after the installation ūüôā

But here’s a sneak peek at today’s making fun…. have a great week everyone ūüôā

Dawn Whitehand work in progress

Teepee Firing – experimental low fired ceramics

As readers may know I am somewhat a specialist in pit firing, having explored it extensively during my PhD and then writing a book about it which you can find on lots of online book stores such as AMAZON.

Lately I have been yearning¬†to explore more methods of alternative firing. The idea arose when my pugmill decided to die leaving me with lots of clay I haven’t had time to manually reclaim. So I thought I would make an outdoor clay kiln – this is still in the planning stage, and I hope to get it up and running (so that it is ‘fired’) before fire restrictions come in this year.

In the meantime I decided to use some of this excess clay – mainly from buckets under the potters wheels which has a high water content – and experiment with a TeePee firing. I did the firing a couple of weeks ago, but hadn’t had time to post it till now – it seems to be very busy at the moment!

I am lucky enough to live on a 10 acre property with lots of trees, and it has been a windy year so there are lots of blown down branches scattered around. I began by constructing my TeePee using these branches and then lining it with fence palings which I reclaimed from a neighbour a few months ago. Before lining the TeePee though, I constructed a tripod with smaller branches within the TeePee which included seeweed, cow dung, salt and some copper sulphate and nestled my pots into it.

I had previously made a series of pinch pots which were were prepared using string and copper wire wound around the pots to hold on seaweed, gumleaves and cow dung.

Prepared pots

Prepared pots

After lining the TeePee with fence palings I dipped newspaper Рin two or three layers for strength Рinto clay slip, which I had made by using my glaze drill to mix the clay in the potters wheel slag buckets. I then lined the TeePee with this paper making sure I left I left two holes for lighting the fire and a few draft holes to feed the fire. I also left a hole in the top of the TeePee for drawing.

The firing was really fun to do and visually splendid and I was very happy with the result for a first effort and intend to experiment with this technique more.

And here are the finished pots cleaned and polished ūüôā

Pot One – when the paper slip fires it creates an almost low fire sculpture, so I rescued some shards the following morning and experimented ūüôā

Pot Two – love these colours!

Pot Three – great copper wire markings here!

Pot Four – love the subtlety ….


Sunday Studio Visit – Filling Custom Orders

It has been a busy couple of weeks in the studio with a few custom orders from my ETSY shop, a local restaurant and a family member – plus I have had lots of kiln firing jobs from a local school, a local artist and the works created during the Scotsburn bushfire recovery art project, not to mention my normal firing schedule for classes and my own work! So it has been a busy few weeks.

Today in the studio I loaded the kiln for firing tomorrow, and turned a set of cups and saucers, and attached handles, for a local restaurant.

Here’s a video¬†of me¬†turning a cup, followed by pics of the making process.

Although I didn’t make the champagne flues and mortar and pestles today, they are on my Sunday drying bench, so here’s a pic of them too….

The champagne flutes are a custom order from my ETSY shop – some are spares which will be listed in my shop after firing. Same with the mortar and pestles. Whenever I get orders I always make extras just to be on the safe side.

Well, that’s about it for this Sunday studio visit – hope to see you mid week ūüôā

Sunday Studio Visit – I am having a sale in my Etsy shop!

It is still cold and rainy here at the moment, and I currently have the doors from the studio off and drying out in the lounge room!

Claymotion Ballarat

With all the rain we’ve had they had swollen up and I couldn’t close them. So I am drying them out and am going to give them a couple of coats of varnish before rehanging them on Tuesday – before my school holiday workshop on Wednesday.

ClayMotion childrens pottery classes Ballarat

Apart from that I loaded my two kilns with student works in preparation for bisque firings on Monday & Tuesday.

ClayMotion Ballarat

The other news is that I am having a sale in my Etsy store to celebrate Christmas in July, so I am spending a lot of time promoting that on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Facebook. Promotion is so time consuming, but absolutely necessary.



I have also been featured on the June Clay Blog Review again, which is great! there are so many fabulous potters on this list each month, so it is really amazing to be included. I have been included under “process & technique” and “the rest” ūüôā

Dawn Whitehand

That’s about it for this Sunday – hope to catch up mid week ūüôā


Sunday Studio Visit – bits and pieces

Many years ago I had a studio/gallery separate to where I live and at this studio I had a huge brick kiln, unfortunately I don’t have any pics of the kiln, though I do of the studio.

Dawn Whitehand old studio pottery

After a few life changes at the time I decided to downsize and relocate the studio to the garage at my home, which I did over the Christmas break of 2003-4, and have been slowly renovating ever since, the most recent being in the past few months and which I have posted about HERE.

Over the past decade the studio has gone from tin garage to insulated, walled and painted studio, to studio with new entry and french doors, to the most recent extension.

As part of the expansion I also acquired a ‘new’second hand kiln, which I have also posted about HERE.

Now back to the huge brick kiln…. and today’s studio visit. When I relocated I pulled the kiln apart and brought all of the bricks and kiln shelves and props with me. The props I have been using ever since, but the kiln shelves were too long for the smaller kiln I also had at the time, and still have. As the kiln was large it had lots of kiln shelves.

All of these kiln shelves are finally coming in handy for two reasons…. 1/ after many years of firing my smaller kiln to stoneware temperature the shelves have become warped. So today I (or should I say hubby) cut down some¬†shelves to fit the kiln…. and 2/ bonus that the old shelves are the perfect fit for my new/old pert-o-kiln, well almost. They are fraction short on width, but perfect on length. And I have enough shelved for both with more left over!

Dawn Whitehand

The other great leftover from the old studio/gallery was sandwich boards, a couple of which I still use now, but I did have a spare one….and amazingly they fitted precisely under the tables in the new glaze room so that I was able to convert them into mini trolleys with caster wheels to put glaze buckets on for storage¬†under the tables. So now it is easy to pull the buckets in and out for simple access to the glazes.

Dawn Whitehand

And the best part is that I am still recycling … even the castors were reclaimed from a couple of storage units I rescued from a dump site and am now using in the new renovation!

Dawn Whitehand

Once all this outdoor work was finished I retired indoors into what I call the ‘jewellery room’ – basically a room inside the house I converted to a ‘clean’ studio when my kids moved out, much to their chagrin! I am really behind with product photography for my ETSY shop due to the studio renovations and really want to upload some new listings over the coming weeks – that means good photos!

Dawn Whitehand photography


Apart from that I fired the kiln – the old one. I¬†haven’t fired the new (old) kiln yet as I only cut the kiln shelves today. So tomorrow a new batch of kiln wash will be made and away I go!

I hope you have enjoyed visiting the studio …. talk soon ūüôā


Sunday Studio Visit – visiting other studios!

***This post is a bit late as it took me longer to write than I thought ***

Today’s studio visit sees me reviewing some pics I took whilst on a girls weekend ceramic crawl I participated in on Friday and Saturday throughout regional Victoria. The tour was organised through Clayspace, a Daylesford based ceramics co-operative, of which I was a founding member and director.

The course of the trail was dictated by the Sidney Myer Ceramics Award, an international biennial award recognising ceramic excellence, held at the Shepparton Art Museum or SAM. Luckily there are lots of major potters living and working in the central highlands area which meant that a ceramic trail was easily structured that took  us from Daylesford to Shepparton and back again.

We started out at 10am on Friday morning and the first stop was Barry Singleton’s studio, a renowned Australian studio art potter¬†whose studio was¬†established in Castlemaine in 1970.¬†Now in his 70s, Barry was instrumental in raising the profile of studio pottery in Australia during the 1970s. Trained largely in Japan, Barry’s studio set up is amazing, echoing¬†many of the principles laid out in Bernard Leache’s The Potters Book, from clay recycling procedures through to handmade tools and equipment.

While Barry was trained in the “form follows function” Japanese aesthetic his work has evolved and matured within the contemporary context¬†to include a range of organic soft forms, art pieces and sculpture to compliment his functional pieces, creating a diverse and accomplished oeuvre.

Next stop was Sarah Ormonde’s studio in Bendigo. Sarah is recently back from the Beyond Limitations¬†clay mentoring residency in Sth Korea, which she chatted¬†to the group about over a yummy shared lunch. While Sarah’s work is beautifully functional and is¬†careful and considered,¬†it ventures into the conceptual through the abstracted landscape based marks she makes upon the clay surface using coloured slips and lines. This¬†surface treatment conveys a freedom of expression usually reserved for the abstract artist.¬†This approach, however, is not surprising as Sarah is originally trained in painting¬†and¬†spends alot of time drawing in real time in the environment.

After a gorgeous lunch at Sarah’s the next visit was Gary Bishs studio.¬†Gary is another hallmark studio potter within the Australian ceramic landscape who, like Barry Singleton, has been working since the 1970s and is a major contributor to the local ceramic scene. Gary has a beautiful showroom, exhibiting so many temptations I had to buy one (I pretty much bought something from everyone). As with Barry, Gary has increased his artist outlook¬†to include a more contemporary approach. While many of his works are based on the vessel, the use of line and decals he designs himself creates a depth and perspective in the work that can sometimes border on early surrealism not the pics I have here – google him &¬†you will see what I mean). Technically innovative, these pieces challenge the contemporary “ceramics purveyor” as they question¬†the viewers ideas about what a ceramic vessel is and what it is meant to convey – concepts very often left to sculpture.

We left Gary’s studio at about 4pm and headed for Shepparton, arriving around 5.30pm. By then it was beer o’clock accompanied by¬†some relaxing before heading off to dinner at the local pub. Needless to say after dinner – six girls booked into an apartment… I’ll spare you a pic!!

Next morning – an early and bleary eyed start… nothing a greasy breakfast couldn’t fix at a local cafe, and then off to SAM to view the finalists in the Sidney Myer Ceramics Award. The award has been a little chequered in its review this year, even by the the artists we had already visited on the trip, which had generated some interesting discussion about what ceramics “is” by definition from both a purist and conceptual basis. There were five finalists in total, Penny Byrne, Ruth Hutchinson, Sann√© Mestrom, Adam John Cullen and Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, all displaying their work in an¬†installation format, a technique becoming increasingly popular in the ceramics arena.

Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran won the award with a body of work exploring the nature of religion, gender and futility through¬†referencing Hindu deities, Christian symbols and sexualised bodies. His use of clay is crude – not being trained in the medium – but this allows him to not be restrained by the historical conventions of the material, so that he exhibits a freedom in the form and surface of his pieces. Though not my favourite in the award it has certainly opened up the debate about the use of clay as an overall art material rather than being purely a ‘ceramic’ medium.

Image courtesy SAM

Image courtesy SAM

My two favourite finalists were the works of Penny Byrne and Adam John Cullen.

Penny’s work uses kitsch¬†vintage porcelain figurines and found objects to create sculptural assemblages that explore politic themes and popular culture. Again, this work challenges the conventions of what a ceramic ‘award’ is… here we have mass produced figurines presented in an installation, a format relatively new to ceramics compared to other art forms. Penny’s body of work¬†in this exhibition references the war in Iraq, and is¬†a powerful anti-war statement, and while the theme of politics may not be new to¬†sculptural ceramics the coupling of her use of materials may be viewed as controversial to purists¬†who see a ceramics ‘award’ being contained in the more conventional realm of handcrafted and purely object based.

Adam’s installation explored the notion of museum curation and the display of artworks, and the time in between when artworks are in the storage area of the museum waiting to go on display – a somewhat ironic theme, which could be taken as serious comment or just some fun and humour depending your mood perhaps. The work is about the placement of objects in a space and the ambience created – very much in keeping with museum curation. I enjoyed the surfaces of the pieces in this installation,¬†but then I am “into” textures and layers.

Sann√© Mestrom’s work, suitably¬†titled Leftovers, ¬†was created by asking artists throughout the world to send remnants of their work which she then combined with unfired clay create a body of work in an attempt to reveal¬†the the original of objects and how they anchored in that meaning, whether¬†cultural, historical¬†or physical. This was perhaps the most controversial work, not¬†due to¬†her method or the finished forms and sculptures, but because the clay was unfired. Unfired clay is technically not ‘ceramic’. Personally I was not very engaged in these artworks as they seemed very slapped together – the components didn’t seem integrated to form a resolved artpiece. Unfortunately I¬†don’t have a pic to show, and I guess that’s why!

Image courtesy of SAM Facebook page

Image courtesy of SAM Facebook page

Finally¬†Ruth Hutchinson’s work Hellmouth, which was not an installation but rather a free standing piece¬†in a separate feature room, depicted a series of figures descending into the open mouth of the abyss. Traditionally trained in ceramics Ruth used dental tools, materials and techniques to create these tiny figures – again challenging the boundaries of conventional ceramics.


Image courtesy of SAM Facebook page

Overall the exhibition was great – and had mixed responses within the group, which created interesting thought and discussion – but I suppose this means the exhibition has achieved what the curators set out to achieve and what I think they were attempting and that is to present a collection of ceramic works that push the boundaries of contemporary ceramic art practice in Australia. This award has been in existence for many years, and from a curatorial perspective, it would be time to shake things up a bit!

As SAM Director Kirsten Paisley says ‚ÄúTheir practices span historical and cultural themes, revisit modernist concerns, delve into social issues and moreover, challenge our understanding of ceramic art and it‚Äôs positioning within contemporary practice‚ÄĚ

And SAM Acting Director Rebecca Coates explains ‚Äúeach of the five artists shortlisted has created an outstanding new body of work that not only extends their own artistic practice, but also challenges our understanding of ceramics within a contemporary context”, and according to¬†Ms Coates all finalists were judged on the criteria of ‚Äúthe conceptual premise of the work and approach to the opportunity; technical ability and engagement with materiality; and spatial considerations – how the work inhabited the space. The work also needed to be innovative, to challenge, excite and intrigue.”

I do think it was a great show which made me think about my art practice and at the end of the day that is a good thng!

Upon leaving SAM it was back on the bus to visit Graeme Masters in Sweeney’s Creek. Graeme is another large figure in Australian ceramics having worked as a production potter in the heyday of Australian pottery during the 1970s-80s. Today he works in his studio producing wares he makes from an amazing carving technique, which he was generous enough to demonstrate to the group, and teaching at Bendigo Pottery. He also makes some sculptural teapots to break the flow. Graeme had an amazing studio setup including a streamlined process for reconstituting clay complete with settling tanks and filter press. At the end of ¬†tour of this process he presented each of us with a bag of freshly pugged smooth white clay – can’t wait to try it out!


Next it was off to visit Dean Smith in Castlemaine. Dean was the recipient of the Manningham Ceramic Art Award this year, an exhibition I also had a piece in, which you can see HERE. Dean had recently come back from an overseas trip and was only just getting back into work and had a huge pot on the go which he had thrown in two pieces. He didn’t have much finished work on display as most of it was with the gallery that represents him in Melbourne. We did get to see his studio and firing setup, which was great. Dean is also quite the creative inventor. He ¬†rigged up his own spray booth using an old shower base as the floor of the booth, and created an exhaust system for his glaze mixing area using an old oven rangehood! The pic below is not great, but the surface is dry crystalline glazes … something to make the mind boggle!


And then it was time to jump back on the bus and travel home – eventually all good things must come to an end.

It was a FAB weekend and thanks to the Clayspace people who organised a fantastic weekend ūüôā



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