Now that all three of my pots are complete I am able to evaluate how successful they have been.
#1 – “Head Rush”
(white, amphora style pot with face, representing pre-drinking)
I will be using super glue to repair the damage to this piece tomorrow. I decided to take the plunge and use both oxides and glaze to decorate it. I placed the broken fragments in position for the process and used brushes and pouring to dribble down the sides of the pot, to symbolise the flowing of drink. When applied the oxide wash appeared grey and the glaze a pale lilac. After firing, however, both darkened; oxide to navy blue, glaze to a shiny dark purple. Although I was disappointed to not retain the original colours I was prepared that this might happen and I still like the effect. The oxides did not take properly and are still dusty to the touch however I did not want to risk another firing for fear of ruining all the work gone in so far. Some peers have commented that the broken section of the face looks good and contributes to the metaphorical message of falling apart/getting out of your mind on drink. I have come to agree and so have decided that I will repair the broken sections with glue but will not use any filler to cover the cracks to retain the shattered appearance.
#2 – “Carnage”
(spittoon style pot with lip shaped opening, representing the night out)
I removed this pot from the kiln today after its second firing and was shocked to find that it has fired almost completely black. The intended appearance was the complete opposite; I mixed several brightly coloured combinations of oxides with a palette of lime green, yellow, blue, purple and tungsten orange. I applied these in layers using brushes and sponges, encouraging the mixtures to dribble and flow over the surface. However after taking a step back I found that the colours had become muddy and reduced the visibility of the drawings. Once the oxides had dried I used a dry sponge to rub back the areas over the drawings and then applied contrasting colours over the top, in turn wiping away the excess so that the oxide remained in the sgraffito areas. The pot was then fired again, this time at a higher temperature in order for the oxides to take properly. Unfortunately it would seem that it was too high and burned out much of the colour from the oxides. Other potential explanations for the darker results could be the terracotta clay being fired to stoneware temperature which causes it to turn a much darker, leather colour as opposed to the typical orange of biscuit firing. There was also a lot of cobalt (blue) oxide wash covering much of the pot which may have altered the other colours during firing. Fortunately I took photographs of the pot before so I still have evidence of the original colours and the journey it has been on. I am again disappointed with the results however there are positives. The blackness fits with the scenario of night-time and the darkness of night-clubs and has overall accentuated the appearance of the sgraffito detail.
#3 “The Morning After The Night Before”
(small ‘wobbled’ slip cast pot, representing the hangover)
This piece is a perfect example of a happy accident. Many of the processes it has been through have been a gamble. The last was the application of a clear stoneware glaze in an effort to secure the cracked slip that didn’t take properly. At the same time I combined a small amount with the ‘spangles’ oxide powder, which I had experimented with on a small tester piece and so knew that it would produce a crackle, almost honeycomb type effect. After firing the grey colour has turned a dark blue after combining with the clear glaze. It has secured the cracked slip, in fact accentuating it where the high temperature (required for the glaze firing) has caused these sections to bulge out. I could never have known this would happen but am really pleased with the effect. One small error was that I had not cleaned the bottom thoroughly enough meaning that the bottom stuck slightly to the kiln shelf and pulled a piece away with it.
The main thing I have learned from completing these pieces is just how risky and temperamental the ceramic process can be. I now realise the importance of producing testers and backup pieces in order to be more certain of what the results will be, something I will definitely do in future. However I do feel that I have gained a good basis of knowledge to take forward. The end results were not what I intended but thankfully still retain the important features and I will be proud to display them in the exhibition.