Friday, December 18, 2009

SMALLpieces gallery

I've recently placed some of my pottery in SMALLpieces Gallery, part of the Northcote Pottery complex in Brunswick. As the name suggests, they focus exclusively on small scale ceramics, which suits me perfectly. I love making the little things. Their blog is an interesting browse-

Friday, November 27, 2009

And more of my leaf inspired pieces, except these are tiny. They’re about 5-7 cms. long and based on actual leaves pinched and manipulated into mini bowls. Again both variations of one basic glaze recipe.

Dry Trees Bowl

The colouring of this bowl, glazed with one of the variations of the iridescent glaze, fitted in perfectly with the colour and texture of the shales and leaves in this part of the garden. I suppose it’s simply returning it to its point of inspiration. The dark clay on the underside was dug out of the ground about two metres away from where I took this photo, and the leaves impressed in the inner surface were growing a similar distance away in another direction. I like the way it looks like some kind of fantastical bracket fungus growling out of the ground.

And another. This is the same glaze as the previous at a slightly lower kiln temperature.

More iridescent glaze effects.

Some glazes can change markedly with seemingly minor adjustments of proportions of the ingredients or firing temperatures. I’m fiddling with the characteristics of this iridescent glaze at the moment and getting some spectacular effects.

More Yummys

Not much point making pottery if you don’t enjoy using it. I like the festive, celebratory look of food served up in special dishes, and using my own pieces lets me know whether they are really functional. The wavy bowls work well as salad or fruit bowls, for biscuits, popcorn and other nibblies. The smaller size is good for non runny desserts (homemade icecream!!) but would be a disaster waiting to happen with soup

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Eve's Little Birds

Another entrant in the exhibition is Eve Close. A lot of her work is inspired by birds and eggs. She does lovely delicate little things. I have a small dessert bowl by her in my cupboard. It’s a beautiful delicate blue with a scalloped top, and a pleasure to use. Her entry this time is a pair of birdlike ceramic graters, about 5-6 cm tall.

Heidi and her maker, Fleur Schell

The 40th Anniversary Exhibition opening last Wednesday was a good evening. All the butterflies of the various prize announcements (none for me this time) and lots of enjoyable socializing, discussion and up close viewing of the various entries. I love living in a small town, but it does have the disadvantage that I rarely have the opportunity for in person trips to galleries, so I lap it up when I get the chance. Internet is useful for networking and browsing through people’s online galleries but it can’t beat actually being there.
My just turned five daughter was reluctant to go to the opening until I told her some of her favourite potters had entries in the exhibition. “Is there a Heidi and Kilbey??” Suddenly she was all enthusiasm. Once at the exhibition I picked her up to have a close look at “Heidi’s Neighbourhood”- a little town of fantasy tower houses with curly bits on the roofs, balconies, flowers and other fancy bits. “Which one would you like to live in?” Said daughter took a number of people over to see this favourite exhibit through the evening.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Packed Kiln

This is my kiln being packed for bisque firing. I pack it as fully as I can for better fuel efficiency, within the limitation of needing to allow adequate heat circulation around the pottery. My work is generally fairly fine- usually about 2-3 mm thick, so I can stack three or four pieces on top of each other without reducing heat penetration too much. If I was working with 1 cm or more thick walls I wouldn’t get away with this kind of stacking. A glaze kiln can’t fit as much because individual pieces can’t touch each other or the glaze fuses them together. My small pieces are good for filling the gaps left around the larger pieces in a glaze firing.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Pots From Old

I dislike wasting things, but inevitably a firing will produce some failures- a glaze that went wrong, firing cracks or pieces that looked OK at the time but didn’t cut the grade when finished. I don’t want to sell seconds. I have seen failed pieces by good potters emerge in Op Shops, and I really don’t want my mistakes to come back to haunt me. I keep some of the “better” failures to use ourselves, but with the remainder, I’m trialling crushing the fired glazed ceramic to a coarse powder and mixing it into fresh clay as “grog”. (Grog = gritty material added to a clay body for texture, to reduce firing shrinkage or to improve resistance to thermal shock from sudden temperature changes.) My first trials have been promising. If results continue to be good I might want to acquire some kind of small hammermill. For my current small quantities I’m using a mortar and pestle (and a good dust mask- I don’t want to develop silicosis).
The clay pictured contains crushed ceramic that I had coloured with a blue pigment. When glaze fired the glaze on the grog melts into small droplets that speckle any glaze applied over it.

Shell Forms

It’s interesting how designs develop over time. At the moment I’ve got a shell shaped bowl that has slightly changed its form within the time it’s taken me to make a kilnload. The bowls in the first photo are some examples from a few years ago of shell inspired forms. The second photo shows some current work on the same theme. The pattern on the wavy bowl and plate is produced by rolling the pictured shells in a circle, point in. The spirals this method produces are so incredibly perfect.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Upcoming Exhibition

Ceramics Victoria is celebrating its 40th birthday this year and are having a major selected exhibition at Manningham Gallery, Doncaster, Victoria (Aus). The exhibition opens on the 14th of October ’09 and closes on the 31st of October. This is my entry, “Sycamore Set”. To give an idea of scale, the square plate is 17 cm. square. I completed it late last year while I was a student at SMB. It’s decorated with impressed patterns from Sycamore leaves picked from the garden around SMB’s ceramics studio and glazed with an Ash Celadon glaze, which uses ash from our cookstove fireplace as a major ingredient. I’m always amazed at the way that a mixture of ashes and clay “mud” can turn into a beautiful translucent glaze if you just get it hot enough.The exhibition has attracted some very good potters from all over Australia. I’m looking forward to the opening night

Friday, September 18, 2009

Small Bowls

These bowls are about 5-6 cms wide, so about right for dipping bowls, but at the moment they're looking pretty in my studio filled with matching brooches-in-waiting. I bought some tea light candles, I'd love to see how they'd look scattered along a table with a candle burning in each one.

An interesting point about cultural assumptions- in western countries we generally think of a "set" of bowls as being 4-6 identical bowls. In Japan, a standard set is five pieces, and they may be pieces that have the same form but a different glaze on each one. This appeals to me, as a compulsive experimenter. It's fun seeing how the glaze subtley changes the character of each bowl.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Days of Small Things

I love little things. As a schoolgirl I used to carry seashells and suchlike around in my pockets. Somehow I've never lost that fascination. The challenge in doing my ceramics as a business is what excuse can I find to justify the little things? Those pictured below are destined to be made into brooches or pendants. As they are they're fun to just fiddle with and rearrange, but I will have to be dilligent and get them into a saleable form. The whole idea of home based studio is to be able to live off something I'm passionate about, after all.


More of my leafy bits and pieces all laid out for morning tea. Makes me feel peckish...

Hello, it's me!

Being new to blogging, I'm using these first posts as an intro to what I like and what I do.

It's important to me that my ceramics have a sense of place, of being grounded. I take a lot of my inspiration from my local surroundings. My Wavy Bowls reflect the shape of Central Victoria's hills and valleys, although the form is something I'm constantly seeing in other natural settings eg. beach dunes or ocean waves on our family's recent holiday to Merimbula.

This bowls is decorated with leaf imprints from the huge liquidamber tree growing out the front of our house, and I've filled it with made and found beachy treasures. The glaze is an Ash Celadon, celadon being a classic Asian style glaze, with ash from our cookstove firebox acting as a flux (melting agent) and colourant (it contains small quantities of iron).