Wednesday, 21 August 2013

My heaviest piece yet!

I managed to fire this monster of a vase a couple of days ago, to earthenware temperature. It had been drying for a couple of weeks as the clay is really thick at the base..I even placed it on top of the kiln during another bisque firing to make sure it was completely dry. Even so, I was rather afraid it would explode or crack due to the weight (around 4 kgs!). Fortunately it has survived intact, and now I need to decide how to glaze and fire it.

Vase, approx. 16 inches tall

I'm also experimenting with new, rougher textures on my pots, trying to create a more rock-like finish. I have always appreciated the interesting effects which sculptors achieve when they model using soft plaster and then pare down the surface, and the technique I've used here emulates that process to some extent.

The piece below piece was first thrown as a cylinder, squared off and then the bottom added later. The top section was coiled.

Vase, approx. 10 inches tall

If it makes it through the bisque, I'd ideally like to wood fire this piece close to the firebox. There is plenty of iron in the clay, so the melting ash from the fire would produce some lovely dark tones and Bizen-style effects.

Friday, 16 August 2013

More new forms

Made in the past few days, now drying:

The closed form at the front was thrown and then carved, the two at the back were part thrown, part coiled. I intend to develop some new matte ash glazes for these pieces.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Experimenting with new forms

I'm exploring some different techniques at the moment, partly in the search for new forms. These pieces were made by wrapping clay around a wooden former and then cutting the clay with a wire:

Vase approx 11 inches tall

Vase, approx. 14 inches tall
Vase, approx. 18 inches tall

The results are quite exciting but am not sure how flexible this technique is. One is restricted to a great extent by the shape of the wooden former, and also the walls can end up being extremely heavy. I had to cut the piece in the first photo in half and hollow it out as the clay at the base was about 2 inches thick! I don't have a problem with heavy pieces per se, but it's important to be using the right kind of clay, and I'm not sure this body would fire at brick-like thicknesses without exploding.

The vase below was thrown and then the base was beaten into a much more rounded shape. Then I used carving tools and scrapers to refine the outline, which resulted in a nicely textured surface:

This urn-like piece was partly inspired by the huge stone containers in the Plain of Jars . I'm thinking of developing this form further by using a combination of throwing and coiling, which would allow me to make much taller vessels.

Our heat wave is well and truly over now and we're back to the usual British mix of sunshine and showers. Temperatures are cooling rapidly and this morning there was definitely an autumnal chill in the air.

Thanks for reading.