The beginning of first term was quite a tough time for me. But I can only say this now reflecting back on it. I was having the time of my life during Freshers but back at home my Dad was suffering with a critical brain abscess which was diagnosed just weeks before I left for university. And as a family we really didn’t know if it was getting better or worse… The actuality of me understanding and coping with Dad’s illness came by me choosing to do my positive negative project about his brain! Discussing my ideas really evokes my emotions, from back before Christmas, during my formative assessment with Duncan to my group tutorial with Claire-which was only a few weeks ago! But that’s the beauty of Art isn’t it? I wanted to make a conceptual piece, and the very essence of making and working with clay has been my therapy. And through the course of the year, I’m delighted to say that my Dad is pretty much back to normal! Funnily enough as I type I am actually sat in a hospital bed myself waiting for an operation (I have a long term medical condition too!)
It’s amazing actually, looking what I’ve done this year, I have accomplished many things! Not only have I learnt to live by myself in a completely new city, I’ve also had to juggle a degree along with the stress of organising where I’m living next year and then towards the end of term finding a job to experience new opportunities and friendships.
Focusing on Ceramics as a skill now, I’ve learnt how to operate kilns, for example the importance of the temperature and how it’s vital it’s at the right degree to enable optimum glaze firings. And how things can go wrong pretty much all the time, but one just has to find an alternative. Like on Friday, I had a doctor’s appointment which meant I couldn’t be present at the morning raku firing. I asked Chelsea and Aaron to fire my pieces for me, which they did and I’m very thankful for! I wanted lots of little sliced pieces glazed with a copper gloss, they had to go on a tray, so it would be a simple process of getting them out of the kiln, but still with all my preparation one of the trays split, so all the tiny slices fell to the bottom of the kiln! And then some of the slices even fell off the other tray! Sometimes there is nothing one can do! C’est la vie! In life there are unexpected outcomes. Luckily, Chelsea kindly offered to take my fallen pieces out of the kiln today, and put them were I wanted for my final display… It’s great that I’ve got some fab people on my course and that we will help each other out in times of need!
The final display done!!! Yippee!
Ideally I would have liked to do more throwing, but then whilst people were throwing during first term I was busy in the glaze room, feeling like some sort of chemist concocting potions! Throwing, at present I feel, is still my weakest skill within Ceramics. It’s funny as I was planning on throwing a lot more for my positive negative project, but I veered more towards hand building and sculpture; that’s just the way the project naturally progressed, and I don’t regret that. But I am determined to change this during second year. I want to completely immerse myself in throwing… to spend hours and hours every week until I can make the ‘perfect’ mug… Or teapot! A perfectly brewed cuppa in something I’ve created: fancy that!
The time has arrived where I must display my work! It is the most minimalist work I’ve done to date. I normally go OTT with glazes and colour, but I held back this year as I wanted to explore different avenues, like the positioning of the pieces, I’ve learnt this year (going to The Ceramics Biennal and Ceramic Arts London helped!) that the way ones work is displayed can be as important as the final piece itself. I’ve drawn from the likes of Emily Gardiner as inspiration. Her pieces have conversations with each other, meaning that the absence of one would have a tumultuous effect on the whole mood of her displayed pieces.
A rough sketch of what I wanted my space to look like. I always seem to do draw out area plans, no matter how big or small the space is!
Bits n’ bobs
It’s like changing rooms.. haha. Now I feel like a 90s kid.
After. It’s amazing what some multi surface wipes and a white sheet of paper can do!
fehwuiHEIUWhuerefhuwefweiuwewefjkwsdkaljasfp’ajd’pjsD’FKJA;SKDJFL;JKSdf;jSDI’PFJCKL`NVKJSDBHGIUwbwurigbprwGRW. This is how I feel. I have to get all my work done for Friday and I’m just not in the work-mode mindset, which kind of sucks! But I’m hoping by writing this blog post it may just motivate me a little bit. Or maybe I’m just procrastinating…
Exploring the possibilities of the layout for a final piece is like asking one how many numbers can they create with the digits 1-9! An infinite amount! Although I love this stage of the project, I have to remember there’s … Continue reading →
Spoke to Aaron- who’s on my course- today and he knows a lot about raku firing. From past experiences of raku, although a quick process, it can be quite finicky as it involves hastily taking out pieces from the kiln with a pair of tongs and placing them in a bin smothered with sawdust to reduce… But if the pieces are too small, they’re prone to slipping from the tongs and falling back into the kiln! Or one spends a while trying to carefully carry the piece to the bin and by that point it’s too cool to reduce!
Above are pictures of a few broken pieces as a result if picking them up, them being too small and falling back in the kiln (then breaking!). Also pictured is the kiln during firing- you can see it’s very hot, and maybe a starfish too if you look closely! Then the other photo is of tins filled with sawdust- the process of reduction.
After asking Aaron if there’s any way I can fire all my little bits at once on a plate or something, he suggested to put all my items for the next firing on a crank tray, covered with bat wash… I don’t want to break or lose and more pieces!!!
These are the bits I want to raku, I’ve used copper gloss on them…
So one of my visualisations of tension was tightness, compression and one of my ways of showing this was by sewing over fired ash white clay in my sketchbook. I then marked around the pieces. This is the energy, the chain reaction of tension… It moves outwards causing disturbance. Then, following the idea of compression through wrapping string/ thread around fired singular fired pieces, I thought about wrapping clusters of clay. The picture above shows the blue pieces being tension and the string holding all the parts together. In relation to my Dad, the blue chunks are the abscesses (last year, his second MRI scan showed that he had more than 1! Thankfully they’ve reduced- they have gone completely- now), the string the disturbances it caused him and the white pieces are him, the parts which are the most dense and appear most. I’ve looked at isolating one slice from my collection of porcelain pieces, the section of the body that was causing my Dad’s body bother. Instead of using a different piece of clay entirely to represent his brain abscess, I’m looking at using the same type of clay one part of the original shape, ass after all, this abscess had become part of him, it had itself a little home on his brain, annoying nerves around it. I like the idea of there remains a continuous line, the blue thread connecting all the pieces. As it is one thing, but broken down into sections, each part may look slightly different or obscure, just like one would expect to see when looking at MRI scans…
I want to create areas of tension using a different clay: St Thomas reduction… I don’t really want to conventional glare these pieces (I’ve said all along that I want the marks of tension to be blue), but I’m thinking … Continue reading →