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Pit Firing Community Project – The Creative Legacy of Edna Walling.

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 🙂

Come See What I Have Been Up To In The Studio!

It has been a while since I published anything – sorry about the absence, but things have been a bit hectic!!

Ceramics wise I have been busy with custom orders in my ETSY shop and also for a local restaurant.

Dawn Whitehand Handmade Ceramics

Fresh from the Kiln

I have also been experimenting with some new jewellery making techniques – which I will post about in the near future – and I have also been building up my new jewellery and craft supplies shop on ETSY

But for the purposes of this post I will stick to ceramics and i will let the pictures tell the story!

See you soon 🙂

Sunday Studio Visit – Mothers day

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!

 

 

Busy Afternoon in the Studio!

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 🙂

 

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 😦

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 – I 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!

deedeedeesupplies-pumpkin-leaf-plate_001

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.

2017-02-26_16-58-21-1281x2345

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 🙂

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 🙂

 

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 🙂

Sunday Studio Visit – new sculpture

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

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 🙂

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

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 – in two or three layers for strength – into 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 🙂

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

Pot Two – love these colours!

Pot Three – great copper wire markings here!

Pot Four – love the subtlety ….

 

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