Ceramics update

Slowly making progress with my pots.

Learned how to load and fire up the kiln and, after a 2 day wait, got my test tiles back. I had hoped the slip would fire to a deep black but sadly it kept the much lighter grey tone. This means I’m having to rethink my proposed Greek red-figure style idea, though I might still find a use for the grey slip in a new design.

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I also slip cast a small vase to gain experience of the technique. Although there were several mishaps along the way (i.e. the floor of foundation looking like a flood at Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory…!) I ended up with a vase a couple of days later. It is very thin and, because it was still quite soft when I took it out, a large crack opened up on the seam at the bottom. After attempting to fix it and getting nowhere I decided to make it ‘a feature’ of the design and work around it which, incidentally, gave me an idea to develop it into a final piece. Pretty good going for something I was just having a try at. While it was still soft I gently pushed, pulled and molded the walls of the vase to create a distorted, almost tumbling feel in a vague head shape. I hope to make this my “morning after the night before” pot. I aim to use a muted colour palette – perhaps dip the whole thing in grey slip, adding purple, black and red detailing with glaze after firing – and make use of correction fluid or textured acrylic paint as well as decals.

I began hand-building another, larger pot (should be around 40cm in height when complete), inspired by a Greek krater shape. However after realising that I didn’t want to pursue the Greek style slip illustrations – partly due to the slip not firing as hoped, partly due to wanting more freedom in style and colour palette – I also moved away from keeping the shapes so rigid and traditional. I decided to make the form more sculptural and, through sketching and talking with tutors and peers, have decided to follow the krater form quite loosely and introduce sculpted facial features to the body of the pot. The neck will be a pint glass shape and the handles will be exaggerated serpentines from neck to belly. I may introduce more than one face, at varying degrees of ‘finish’ to conjure the sense of blurring vision. I hope to dip this pot in white slip and add sgraffito detailing. After firing I am considering the additon of laser-print decals and coloured glazes. I hope to use a lilac-grey glaze poured from belly towards neck opening to produce a flowing effect, symbolising thoughts pouring out of the head.

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After realising my vision for incorporating colours I visited a local potter, Rob Bibby, at his studio to discuss booking some time with him to make use of his glazes and, of course, knowledge and experience. He was very helpful and more than willing to let me use his resources. I took a look at some of his sample and got some photographs for reference. He also showed me the difference between terracotta that he’d been dipped in white slip before firing and glazing and some that hadn’t. Although I liked both effects for the purposes of this project I hope to use the white as it means the glazes look a lot brighter and stand out better when finished.

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I hope to make a third pot for my series, one which relates directly to the ‘event’ or act of drinking, the during. I had toyed with the idea of a horn or cornucopia shape but feel this is ambitious in the time scale and with my limited experience. It also doesn’t flow well visually when the pots are viewed as a series. I looked into vessels relating to drinking games, trick cups, yard glasses and porrons but nothing seemed to click. Until today when a friend reminded me of a spittoon (vessel used in wine tasting, literally for spitting out wine into). It was something I’d considered before but forgotten about. This would fit well with the stage and content as it is something directly linked to drinking and links in an ironic way to alcohol induced vomiting. I’m currently looking into the traditional shape and hope to get some sketches done tomorrow.

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