Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ambitious weekend

This last post for Mud Colony sets up an ambitious weekend.

I often make lists so this is one for this weekend

Two of which I have already completed. Namely finding some pin bails for some pendants and flattening the bottom of my plate mould so my plates don't spin.

Big ticket items are finishing the neriage block, making some stripped slabs and making a new big plate mould.

It's amazing how timing is everything in ceramics. The neriage and stripped slabs are top of the list so I can get enough for a bisque firing and then a glaze firing for my cone 6 coloured clay. I got distracted and started working back in stoneware but would like to finish off some cone 6 stuff so I can end the year with "something complete"... Oh the long process!!

Saturday progress was good.

Started with finishing off some neriage.

Then I got my new plaster mould made and setting

The next was the make some more stripped plates. Below is the neriage plate at the back and two stripped bowls which I am pretty happy with

As this is not glazed yet its hard to tell colour. Here is a test to give you an idea of the finished colours

Sunday was less productive but I did get my dinner plate mould finished which is great.

All in all a successful weekend. The only thing not complete was the throwing of some mugs but I will get to that this week I think.

Thank you for reading my blog during this year all the best for the festive season and a very productive muddy new year to the Mud Colony mob.

See you all next year!

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gotta work fast on hot days!

On the way to my last bisque firing I lost my one neriage bowl. A bit disappointing and I thought nothing to pitch it, but then it niggled at me and I decided to make another. I'm amazed that it didn't take as long as what I had in my head. Probably because I had done it before.

This is the latest results from the bisque firing for my cone 6 stained clay for my sisters tableware. Everything survived this round. Keep your fingers crossed for round two.

This is the new neriage bowl and plate.

I have also decided to make some brooches or pendants with some of the of its because I loved the shapes and colours of the clay.

Some nice kiln fillers to brighten the day!

Now to do some glaze work and get some stuff done before Christmas!

It is amazing how such a hot day can have things dry in no time. I can't believe how hot it is today in Sydney.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's all happening

Since moving my studio to the garage I have been able to get heaps of bowls made.

Even after a disastrous day where one of my plate moulds threw itself on the floor in protest. So a new mould was born!

Old mould then new mould below!

This is the end of a few days work. Pretty good considering I only get about 3 hours a day to do my own thing due to my cheeky monkey.

Hopefully there is a firing next week. Which reminds me I need to get some 06 cones.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

3D where is it going?

I am always interested in change. One I find particularly interesting is the development of 3D ceramic printing and its part in the ceramics industry today.

Time and technology has changed many art and craft practices. I was trained in photography at a time when digital photography was just starting, incredibly expensive and just not comparable to the normal analogue practice at the time. Within 5 years of starting my course digital photography had taken off and was fast becoming industry standard. My first job leaving uni was the scanning and "photoshopping" of slides meant for desktop publishing applications. You wouldn't even use film anymore in this instance and the task is redundant.

In the distance I can see 3D ceramic printing opening up a wealth of options for the ceramic artist today in terms of making. How far that distance is is any ones guess. One company that is making leaps and bounds is a US company called Shapeways. Some of the pieces produced are really interesting although not that interesting in terms of design yet. The users are generally those trained in 3D CAD applications who from what I can tell aren't really designers of ceramic works, or never practiced the craft. I may be wrong though. Either way it seems there is still a long way to go to making this technology work for either practicing designers, commercial manufacturing or the hobbyist.

Hyperclay held at Object Gallery in the middle of the years also addressed this technology. Is the technology part of ceramics or part of engineering or the printing industry? I would say a bit of all. As with most technologies in their infancy there is still ongoing research as to the best method of production. Robert Bamford went down the path of printing like a laser printer using clay with a slip like consistency. From the piece I saw it looked like precision was difficult and I would also image size would be limited as the piece would need time to dry unless there was another way to support it. Overall this method seemed doomed to me. Unless some method of introducing a mould was made, which I guess would defeat the purpose.

Shapeways has an interesting approach of using laser printing to cut into dry blocks of clay, so the work is cut out of clay. I find this technique really interesting. I would imaging because of the technique the usual process for firing may differ as the clay body would most likely differ from the clay bodies used today in production work. I would love to know more about this but I imagine that its not something that is being published that often as it could be patented. How does shrinkage work with a dry clay body being fired? It would shrink at all in the first firing??  There would have to be something fluid holding the clay together in the block unless it is that compressed it doesn't move?? So many questions...

I can imagine one day that you could print a mug or your dinner set as easily as you can now print an image on a mug. Given you know how to use a 3D CAD application which are also getting easier day by day, I can see it one day happening. So how does that effect the ceramic industry. Is it a good or bad thing or does it just give ceramicists another "tool". Mind you the work would still needs to be fired and glazed. I would image you would complete your design and select from a range of glazes and then get the product. So as long as your idea fits into those parameters you would get the object that you want. I would imaging that many "ideas" would still fall outside of those parameters while the technology is developing. However its an interesting concept. It might be a much easier way to product small run customised wares. Where would printers fire this work? Is it viable?

It could mean lots of interesting avenues for the craft and may see students and designers coming back to the medium. What does it mean for commercial mass production?? Will the focus move off China?? Will custom work make a come back?? Does it make ceramics more accessible to anyone interested in DIY or homemade craft?

I think if you let it take a negative effect on your practice then it will. If you compete with it rather that accept and encourage it, it could cause some damage to your business. Personally I would love to give it a go.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Is a blog worth it?

Since blogs have started they have just exploded with people wanting to communicate with the cyber community. Personally I started my blog as a record of my journey not really expecting anyone else to read it. Mainly I record when I have finished work so I can look back and see when I did what. Now I also record some process. Mainly so it keeps me going. I know I'm going at a snails pace at the moment but that's all I can do. I am working two days a week doing some work experience which I enjoy and even though it's not my own work its great to have my hands in clay and see work going through the kilns. I am learning a lot about the business of clay. It's an eye opener.

It is funny how I came to this point. When I thought about having kids I thought all my personal aspirations would be put on the back burner. However for me it's been the opposite. I have been able to explore different avenues. Of course it couldn't be done without the help of my family and support of my husband and of course bruiser himself. He is a very happy contented and flexible boy. Without all of these things wouldn't be able to do much aside from parenting.

I don't read many other blogs or sites. Which probably shows and I really should. However I do flick through them. I read a blog here or there, but in saying that I think that's how I use the Internet and come to think of it I also read magazines the same way so maybe that's just me.

I think a blog is worth it at the end of the day even if it just ends up being a personal journal which people can choose to be a part of.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012


Stripes have been made!

This is the side plate. No dramas with this one.

This is the big plate. This has taken two goes. I have found that I need to rest the plate on its edges with some support in the middle.

Lately I have been doing some work experience with a local potter. It has increased my knowledge so much within a such while. It's such valuable experience. Just small tips like how to treat edges. Different ways of making tools and shapes. All add up to a wealth of knowledge.

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Dinner set

I have found a method I want to use to make my dinner set. It involves stained plastic clay and results in stripes without using neriage.

You roll out coils of clay to the same length.

You then twist all of the coils together into a big sausage shape.

Then you roll the slab and you get this.

I love the looseness of the stripes. Something I was wanting to get away from with neriage. My biggest concerns are warping of the clay although I have tried my first plate and I made sure to turn it over and dry it on the rims so it reduces warping. I also have a tip to bisque the plates rim to rim also.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Neriage on the shelf

Although I have had some success with neriage I am putting it on the shelf for the moment. Instead I am going to explore some inlay techniques.

I have decided to go for two colors with the neriage and use oxides to do some experiments. It was hard to play with neriage using stained clay because I was nervous about waste etc...

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New mugs for cone 6 clay

I have loads of coloured slip which I have decided to use on some mugs. Now just need to find the time to make them!

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Friday, August 17, 2012

My stamp

I spent ages messing with pottery stamps. Only to decide that I prefer to use my signature. It's so much quicker and can by etched into the clay with a pencil or just scribbled on with a ceramic pencil.

Here it is:

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

A few hours with a professional

Today I was lucky enough to go to Malcolm Greenwoods studio. It was a real privelege and an amazing morning. He shared so many of his techniques with me and I even walked away with a tool.

He said it was nice to talk to someone who shared an interest. I found it amazing to be able to talk to someone who has so much knowledge and experience, who is currently making a living in a really hard industry who was so willing to share some much of his knowledge. It really was amazing.

It was so nice to just listen to the odds and ends of what he does. The space he works in is fairly modest and considerbly open to the elements!! He uses every square inch of that space. He doesn't spend loads on tools. Everything about the space is really modest and humble. It was really intersting and also shows just how frugal and clever you have to be to make ceracmics profitable. There is no room from time intensive tasks if they don't add value to the end product. I like that method of working. Time is really important. He is so efficient in how he operates. It also shows how creative you can be not only in the creative process but also the running of a business.

I will never think of almost leather hard clay the same way again! It was amazing how dry he lets his slabs become before working with them. I can't wait to try it all out for myself!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Continuum manly art gallery

Yesterday I went to the artist talk for continuum an exhibition on at manly art gallery the work showcases teachers and students work from northern beaches TAFE. Amazing and fabulous work.
The speakers were
Sue Buckle - Early art education - ceramic artist
Sue Jorgensen - Sculptural/teaching
Malcolm Greenwood - Ceramic production
Bruce McWhinney - Facilitator/ ceramic directions/ tertiary education
Bruce was absent. But there in spirit.
It was such an interesting discussion about the direction of ceramics and education.
I was very excited to meet Malcolm Greenwood. He was nice enough to trouble shoot a problem I am having with neriage. I was unaware it is something that one of his mentors specialized in so he knows it really well. I have never come across any of his work that uses the technique so it was a nice surprise and gives me some new hope in this project I am working on.
It is so nice to meet people that are willing to help you get where you need to go.
Ceramics isn't an easy career and is still a hobby for me, however it is nice to meet people who are willing to share years of their professional experience in terms of technique and business knowledge, like trends for the industry, even though it is an area that is difficult to make a living from.
Malcolm acknowledged that it is hard to compete with china as they have taken a large chunk of commercial work. However he still believes there is work there for smaller runs that are specialized for restaurants etc... He also noted that if someone wants something done just say yes and figure it out as you go. I like the attitude but it would take a lot of guts!
The information and discussion was invaluable and a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
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Friday, August 3, 2012

Disappointment and slight set backs

It seems that my idea for combining an earthenware and stoneware clay 50 50 may not be working as well as I hoped. I must admit I have pushed it to the limit as I know that even commercially made clays would struggle. I was trying to use stained clay and neriage. I am using drape moulds also.
This has resulted in my plates and bowls warping while the dry. I am so heart broken. I know it's not all the clay body it's a combination of the technique I'm using including stained clays combined and draped over a mould. I wonder if I should try throwing and using the stained clays as slip as I know throwing this clay does not result in warping when thrown.

I have been given some mid fire clay from TAFE to try. I'm not sure if I want to though as if I can't get anymore to finish the dinner set then it's a waste of time.

Throwing isn't easy at the moment with a little one. Hand building was quieter and less messy. But I'm sure I'll find a way.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My first attempt at neriage

Ok. So I made it into my studio. Even though my son was having a pretty upside down day.

Below is my first attempt at neriage. I was very excited and happy with the result. But the proof will be in the drying I guess... Then the bisque... Then the glaze firing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

After a long absence

Although it seems I haven't been very active. I really have been very busy. I now have a 15 month old baby boy called Jax and we have been having lots of fun together.

What I have found is that even though I am still thinking daily about ceramics, unfortunately it is only thinking. Not much action going on. However, I don't think this is all bad. It means that I am carefully thinking about my process and technique to suit the time I have available at the moment.

I am very lucky that my sister Jo is going to come over and help with Jax whole I get back into making her a dinner set.

The technique I am venturing into is neriage. I understand that this process can have lots of cracking but I think I will give it a go. I have stained clays I made pre-Jax they are all the same clay so this should reduce the chances of cracking. I can't wait to get started!

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Jo’s Dinner set project

Over Christmas there has been lots of busy testing going on. I am making a dinner set for my sister. I also wanted to use a white clay at mid-fired (cone 6). So decided to experiment with combining earthenware and stoneware clays 50/50 to see if I could get a good mid fired clay body. Amazingly I was surprised with the results.

It is definitely possible to combine commercial earthenware and stoneware clays and get a good mid fired clay body.

This is a run down of the clays I combined all results tested well.

Stoneware clays used

1. Keanes 5B

2. BRT

3. Keanes 33

4. Keanes Porcelain

Earthenware clays used

a. Keanes 37 (white)

b. Walkers White E/W

c. Keanes Terracotta

Midfire clays used

d. MFQ

e. Feeneys RM

f. Walkers White E/W

g. Chris' KMFP

Combined clay mixes

4+a = white

2+c = brown

3+c = brown

3+a = light brown

4+d = white

b+d = white

I haven’t finished the shrinkage and porosity tests on the combined clay test but will have that shortly.

In addition to combining the clays I also added stains to the clay bodies and tested construction methods for the dinner set I want to make

This is the results. Cone 6 firing using commercial glazes

Jo's dinner set 201202

The only problem I have relates to the stripped plates, it seems that they warp, this is more likely due to construction methods as that particular clay was a commercial clay not combined with anything…

So the problem I have it to get a stripped effect that does not warp…