Wednesday 28 August 2013

Amaizing !

I'm delivering the final selection of replica pots to Hengistbury Head later today. I think they will go down well. I have made an archive of images of them on the website :-

The Hengistbury project has been a bit like growing sweet corn - it has taken a good few months from looking at the seed catalogue and choosing the variety to grow; then germinating the seeds in small pots - the seeds are fairly large and obviously like the final product, but a bit dried up; then nurturing the small plants and planting them out when the frosts have gone; checking their growth - keep the snails away, feeding them and watering them when it is dry; watching the cobs swell and mature; finally picking the crop and peeling away the husks to reveal the beautiful corn hiding in the silk tassles. Then enjoying the taste with friends and family! Make your own connections with the ceramic processes!

Thursday 22 August 2013

Beakers Six of One

I've just finished making half a dozen beakers - to be fired on Saturday in an open bonfire at the Oak Fair at Stock Gaylard. I'm happy that I am getting more confident and faster at making these by pinching two sections and joining them. But it is so slow compared to throwing on a wheel!

On Tuesday I tried firing a beaker while still damp, as per various folk's suggestions, to get over the problem of spalling, where chunks of the vessel blow off when exposed to the flames. As you can see from the photo, it did not work for me this time - that's what they call experimental archaeology!
Perhaps it was not wet enough or it was the wrong type of fire! Back to the drawing board with that one.

Monday 19 August 2013

Changing States

I've been try to catch up with my gardening recently. It seems to be a battle against Mother Nature's small creatures, such as these Cabbage White butterfly caterpillars.
I tend to aim at "extreme prejudice" a great way of saying killing your enemies!
However I also have some sympathy for creatures that live in the dirt, trying to scrape a living and hoping one day to change into something beautiful! But I sometimes think I'm more like a slug that will never change!
I'm just finishing off a replacement batch of pots for the Hengistbury pottery project, to fill the gaps left by the pots that failed due to the misbehaviour of the sea-shell temper. I aim to deliver them all next week!

Thursday 8 August 2013

Wood Firing - Temper, Temper

A good wood firing unloaded, a great batch of pots, many made for the Hengistbury pottery project.
More information and images at this link

This firing was an interesting exercise, only taken to 1000C, instead of the usual 1300C, with earthenware rather than stoneware clays. It was a much easier single handed firing that took 12 hours from early morning to dusk.
Some pots are wasters, the locally dig clay having not coped with temperatures above 950C and a couple of bases blown - too thickly potted and too quickly fired close to where the flames enter the chamber.

Although stoneware glazed wares are more attractive in my eyes, perhaps I should turn to more sustainable (i.e. cheaper!) ways of potting, such as these earthenware vessels. But is there a market for them? They are sort of less functional, but I could develop a range of glazes or just sell them as unglazed vessels - the larger urns make very sculptural forms which can be used as containers for ritual deposits (for example waste paper bins!), with some very attractive tonal differences and the added tempers give some great surface textures.
Tempers are ground up materials added to clays to help them perform better, while constructing, firing and using the pots. I sometimes feel the need for tempers myself - usually liquid refreshments!

Saturday 3 August 2013

Refreshed and Restarted

I'm back from Corfe Castle, after a couple of weeks demonstrating and selling pots. It went very well and was a great chance to unwind a bit and also make some more ancient pots.
They have now all been loaded into the wood kiln - as per photo. I'm aiming to fire that next Monday, for the first time a low temperature earthenware firing.
Hopefully that will produce the rest of the pots I need for the Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre pottery project, which need to be delivered soon.

I have also been making Udu Drums, inspired by Laurence Eastwood's attempts, mine are a strange mixture of African musical instrument decorated in the style of prehistorical British pottery vessels. I am looking forward to seeing how they emerge.

Talking of emerging, I've just read the Saatchi On-line Gallery's guide to Buying Emerging Art - downloadable at this link (Hopefully!). Very interesting sales pitch for their way of working, but I'm not convinced. I completely agree about only buying stuff you fall in love with, because you have to live with it, but then to say you need to choose an artist because they have been to the right college and/or won the right art awards seems to fall into their trap of following a formula, which ends up with the gallery's own stock of work becoming inflated in value because of the demand they have helped to create and maintain (often against the odds and by using some fairly shady methods). OK I may be a bitter and twisted Oldie, but I do think that most of us creative folk would do better without that perception abounding in the general public's view.
I am now in residence at the Upwey Village Hall again, this time as a guest of the Vyvyan-Penney family until 11th August. I am proud of the display, showing a variety of my recent output.
I have just sent out another Mail Chimp bulk email to our fans - it can be seen at this link.