Workshops: plaster, print-making, pottery and photography

Some of the processes we have covered in workshops so far include plaster, print-making, pottery and photography.

Plaster

Mixing: slowly add plaster powder to water, shaking over the surface evenly. Avoid creating excess dust and making bubbles in mixture. Slide hand to the bottom of bowl and agitate the mixture using a ‘waving’ motion of the hand, whilst trying to keep wrist still. Mix is ready when finger dragged over the surface leaves a subtle impression.

I first made a texture mold using clay and a small cottle from acetate. Poured the mixture in then allowed to set before peeling away the clay and cottle.

At a later time I also attempted sculpting with some excess plaster mix. This was unsuccessful to say the least. The mix was very difficult to handle as even when it began to harden it would soften to a liquid again in my hands. After a while it became crumbly and impossible to work any longer. I did dip fabric strips in plaster and mould these around a bowl. This was semi-successful; it kept it’s shape however the texture is not satisfactory as the plaster was too set before I began molding. I also found it very difficult to detach from the bowl I had molded it round as I forgot to apply vaseline or a similar lubricant before molding.

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Print-making

We experimented with several types of mono-printing; screen-printing, stencil, plate transfer and oil pastel.

I enjoyed learning the process with the stencils and how to use the press. The bold colours produced are striking. I am happy with the initial prints I produced but would like to work further into this technique and attempt layering colours and shapes in one piece.

I experimented with putting some of my prints through the photocopier and inverting the colours which produced some interesting effects.

I favoured the oil pastel technique over the others as it allowed for the most precise results and was easy to work back into immediately.

I also independently explored a watercolour printing technique with mixed results. Initially I applied a colour wash to a sheet of paper, placed leaves etc. on to this and then lay another sheet of paper on top of that and used a print roller to apply pressure. This did not produce good results. I researched further into the idea and found instructions stating to apply the wash, then the leaves on to the paint and weight them down with rocks or similar until the paint dries.This second method was a lot more effective however the image was still not as crisp as I had hoped, proving that I need to be better prepared and informed before attempting again.

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Pottery

My first attempt at throwing a pot using the wheel went very well. Unfortunately when I removed it from the wheel the bottom fell out. This was due to the clay being too wet and thin on the bottom. I centred and flattened another piece of clay on the wheel for a base and then attached the remaining cylinder of my initial pot. This second try was a success. I have since watched some video tutorials of professional potters using the wheel and found some techniques I would like to try such as using a sponge to remove excess water and keeping the pot rotating while using the cheese wire to cut it from the wheel.

POT

Photography

We had a useful workshop explaining the advantages of shooting images in RAW format. This means there is much more detail in the image produced and a broader scope for fine tuning in post-processing. I learned how to use Adobe Bridge and used this to open RAW files in Photoshop where I was able to adjust saturation, light levels, contrast and much more.
In our next workshop we were given the opportunity to freely experiment with the tools available in Photoshop. I played around with overlaying multiple images to achieve a double-exposure effect, along with trying out the dodge/burn tool to fine tune shadow and highlight details on the image of the dog.

I have studied photography previously and at the time felt strongly against editing images digitally. However this has helped me to realised what an important tool this is for professional photographers as well as the potential as a creative tool as an artist.

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