Ceramics progress

I’ve got behind with my journal entries over the past couple of weeks as deadlines for this project and UCAS applications have loomed ever closer and I have been dividing my attention between completing my UCAS submission and working to complete my pots.

My UCAS application is now sent and I am happy with my choices and personal statement.

The ‘face’ pot developed well and has now been fired. My original intention was to add exaggerated serpentine handles but these presented a considerable challenge not only to attach but to keep themselves supported. I managed to secure them only for them to tumble down a few minutes later. So I decided to make the handles much smaller to give more of the appearance¬†similar to an amphora. After allowing it to dry I transported it to Rob Bibby’s pottery studio in Woodnewton (the most nerve-wracking drive of my life!) I had hoped to dip the pot in white slip but it proved to be too big. Instead I sponged it on. This taught me a lot about the character of slip; Rob explained it was important to get an even coverage with each sponge as it could not be worked over while it was wet. This proved tricky and I soon discovered when trying to smooth patchy areas that dragging the sponge quickly muddies the surface and the terracotta begins to show through. I applied this coat as evenly as I could and left it to dry over night.


I returned the next day and began working into the slip, using the sgraffito technique of scratching back to the terracotta surface and incising into the clay with tools. I added a bubble pattern that incidentally ended up in the vague shape of a wine glass. Around the neck I cut in a heartbeat pattern, inspired by researching how fast or excited heartbeats (like those experienced when drinking/anticipating a night out.) Finally I carefully brushed over a fresh coat of white slip to give a more even finish. It was hard to stop working on it! But I left it with Rob to be fired. Later that same day I had a spark of inspiration and realised I could have attempted to apply the slip using a trailer tool – like a giant pipette – starting from the neck and allowing it to run down the body to achieve a poured look. I hope to attempt something similar when it comes to glazing.
I spoke to Rob on the phone yesterday. He told me that pot has been fired but unfortunately some of the face detail was blown off in the kiln. I am hoping to travel over later today to see the damage. He said it’s repairable but will have to be glued post-glazing.

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The ‘morning after’ pot has now been fired. Once it had hardened up I dipped it in grey slip. I accidentally got slip on the bottom of the pot which made it very wet and meant when I tried to lift it from the board the already delicate bottom tore. Fortunately I was able to repair it and once the slip had lost it’s sheen I began working into it with small letters to create text impressions and adding crack/lightning shaped incisions down the front to the open bottom. I also impressed some pain-killer tablets into the surface. I had hoped for a more detailed print look from using the blister pack but this was disappointing so I used a single tablet instead.
It came out of the kiln this morning and unfortunately the slip didn’t take properly and it has cracked slightly. It’s still in place on most of the surface so I intend to carefully decorate it with oxides before adding a clear glaze to protect it.

The third ‘spittoon’ pot was the fastest to build and I am very happy with how the shape turned out. I press molded a round bowl and once it was dry removed it from the mold and pressed more clay into it. I then attached the first bowl to this, using score and slip method, to create a sphere. Once these had hardened a little I cut a hole in the top and began building a neck using coils. Over a couple of days I sculpted the neck into an open mouth shape. When I finally removed it from the mold there were small tears along the seams which I again repaired with slip and score. I had some continuous line drawings, inspired by my nightlife photography, which I really wanted to add to the pot but was struggling to think how. I attempted to incise them but it looked crude. I created a printing block using string and PVA but the result was still very rough looking. I then had the idea of tracing the drawings onto tracing paper, laying this on the surface of the clay and gently drawing over the paper which in turn pushed into the clay. The result was exactly what I was looking for. Despite the illustrations being shallow in the surface they are still clear and more detailed than the other attempts. I had hoped to have this pot fired by the end of this week however unfortunately it was too wet to go into the kiln. As a result I have left it to dry in the kiln room and hope it will be dry by next week. After that I intend to transport it to Rob and us his glazes to add colour.

Despite the hurdles and mishaps along the way I am staying positive as this is all valuable experience in a medium I am very new to.

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