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 http://www.fleurschell.com/

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.