23 June 2018

Studio Saturday

This past week I've settled in to the ceramics studio, a bit. Brought my clay and lots of "bits", ready to get going on Monday - but every day I find there's something I desperately need, and it's at home. So it becomes a matter of improvising: "Do what you can with what you have..."
Things to bring from home
How nice to have people around, chatting away. I'm having to concentrate on getting back to knowing how to rig up the pots for dipping and drying, so I'm as quiet as a mouse at the moment.

The kiln is being loaded and there's space for some of my little pots, so I'm cracking on with getting as many ready as possible. Drying time and drying speed is an issue - the first lot have lots of cracks, possibly because they dried too fast. Possibly this can be remedied with a paste of paper clay and a little gum arabic - I've tried it out on the larger cracks -

At this point I need to see which of the various "gold" threads found in the thread drawers are actually metal, ie will leave a dark mark. Plastic will be no good at all, just give off fumes when fired. The test pieces went into the kiln in sagars, "just in case" -
Three possibilities for showing their metal
Most of the pots already dipped show the texture of the sinamay - and I don't particularly like it. It will make a thin, fragile pot - thin is good, but having it crumble when you pick it up is not good.

Thinking about ways forward with both the texture and the fragility... Certainly the pots made with sinamay keep their shape and "stand on their own two feet" immediately after dipping, whereas those made with floppy fabric, even double layers cut on the bias, need support till they're dry.

First day's dipping done
 Every pot is still an experiment, often because of the type of stitching -
Vertical stitching leaves holes in the fabric -
well, let's see what happens....
Another batch ready. The wheels (sprockets?) help the pots keep their shape during dipping, not so crucial with the sinamay but very important with floppy fabric -
Second day's candidates ready to dip

... and dry pots still needing their bases trimming
 This lot is being dried more slowly -

"Floppy fabric" needing support
Nine little pots are in the kiln ... now I can stitch thoughtfully rather than hurriedly, and even draw out a few ideas. For instance I recently saw these (large!) pots by Dan Kelly at Contemporary Applied Arts, and started thinking about the "dark decoration" in a different way -

As I gather tools etc, my table is becoming more of a comfortable place to work. Some shelves would be useful, perhaps cubbyholes at the back of the table -- the table can't be put flush against the wall because of a big pipe just above the floor. 
A little notebook acts as my "external brain" - but already I'm slipping into evil ways, forgetting to write down a summary of the session at the end of the day. Will try harder next week...

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