This page gives people a view into our daily lives living in the west of Ireland. It includes posts about our projects in the ceramic studio as well as projects in the garden, home and kitchen.
Filtering by Category: Pottery
I never got any extensive training on the wheel; just a short introduction to it during a ceramics elective in art college. Back then it was immediately obvious to me that to get a handle of the skill I would need to be totally dedicated to it. I was already immersed in my painting so I put it aside for another day. I still haven't got the chance to learn how to throw a pot so I like to build things with my hands instead. This week Steve showed me how to make a plate using a press mould.
First we made a wooden stamp using plywood. We cut this one into a figure of eight shape. We pressed the wooden stamp into the clay while it rested on a large flat sponge to take some slack.
Slip or 'engobe' is a form of liquid clay in which colours can be added. It is used to paint onto the surface of pots to give them colour and texture. When we want to create a smooth finish we have to ensure the consistency of slip is spot on (like cream). If it is applied too thick or applied to a body of clay that is already very dry, it can split and crack. These effects can be exaggerated to create textural surfaces.
We've been experimenting with stretching a white slip over dark clay and throwing it across the table to make it crack. To create an extra thick slip we added dispex to porcelin. Dispex works to suspend particles in liquid. When it is added to slip it makes it extra thick and unctious.
Some examples of plates where slip has been stretched:
Some experiments with pattern and colour from the month of June:
We have been developing a range of these simple and functional circular platters. They have a wateriness to them; the blue pools of pigment seem to float. Cobalt and copper is also used to create colour.
We have been developing some new ash glaze recipes lately. Ash glazes are ceramic glazes made from the ash of various kinds of wood or straw. In a wood fired kiln, potters like to create random effects by setting up the kiln so that ash created during firing falls onto the pots; the results of this are seen in Phil Rogers book 'Ash Glazes'.
We use an electric kiln where the conditions are highly controlled and predictable so in order to get some interesting effects with wood ash we mix it with water, and often clay, and apply is as a paste or we simply shake the dry ash onto the surface of the pot before it enters the kiln.
Wood ash is primarily made up of calcium carbonate, which is used in many glaze recipes. It also contains many other components which differ depending on the location, soil, and type of wood the ash came from. Each different ash glaze produces different results.
We collect wood ash from the pizza over at the Cill Rialaig Cafe. We wash it, sieve it and dry it to make a fine dust.
The ceramic flux in wood ash is calcium oxide. When present in a glaze it promotes running & streaking. Wood ash glazes often run and slip so much during firing that they move down off the pot and onto the kiln shelf below, sticking the pot firmly to the shelf it sits on. In order to remove the pot we have to grind the pot off using an angle grinder; after this process the pot is usually lost.
Some examples of pots where we have used wood Ash:
Explorations with cobalt blue using wax as a resist.
Here are a few images of the things we have made to help us with our daily tasks in the studio:
Our first series of pots are inspired by traditional country pottery. Copper & Manganese are used to add colour.