31 July 2018

Drawing Tuesday - RAF Museum

Building work on the large hangar had finished - it now houses an exhibition called RAF Stories, which includes small versions of some of the planes for kids to sit in -
Those life-sized figures (photo on other side) can be disconcerting - their eyes follow you around the room....

I found the Amy Johnson doll and got out the coloured pencils -

(click on photo to enlarge text)

 We met in the cafe (cakes only) under the wings of the Sunderland -
 which Janet K had drawn from the observation platform upstairs -
 Janet B's motorbike -
 Sue's collection of vehicles, also seen from the observation platform -
 I had also grappled with part of the big yellow rescue helicopter, carefully counting the rivets -

 One of the RAF stories concerned this burnt, disfigured engine -
 Wow -

(click on photo to read the story)

30 July 2018

Reuse is not abuse

A rubbing on tracing paper, from the 100 Drawings in a Day course last week

Mark making with an eraser

Rubbing away the rubbings

But some traces are left
 And now for the design work. (There was no particular reason for doing it on tracing paper, just that I knew I'd enjoy the erasure process! Trying out various types of pencils on the paper was fun too.)

I drew eight rectangles and marked five divisions on the top and down each side. The aim was to "connect the dots" ...
Much more rubbing out as better ideas emerge

Tidied up, and the best candidate moves to Round 2

Redrawn to fit the purpose - transfer to a fabric sample

Fabric pinned behind paper, then sewn along the lines, on the machine

Removing the paper is easier if the lines are perforated
with a dressmaker's tracing wheel

Et voila, it's going to be a ceramic pot! ... in the fullness of time
(yet another experiment)
The five spots on the sides match up so that the lines are continuous, and the threads at the top will be used to suspend the pot during the dipping process.

The machine stitching (large stitches) is easily threaded with the frizzy, thin metallic thread, unravelled from a very scratchy scarf. It makes an interesting line when left to its willful ways, but sometimes breaks during sewing, so threading it on the surface is worth a try.

29 July 2018

Charcoal extraordinaire

'Twas a lovely day when we went to Blue House Yard 
to collect some special charcoal from Iain Loasby, who manages Rivenwood Coppice and uses the wood to make 18th-century style trellises -
and other woody products such as besom brooms, bean poles, pea sticks, kindling, bbq charcoal, drawing charcoal, thick woody pencils -
These were the sticks, 40-55 cm long, hazel, and looking and sounding like glass when gently hit together; they were uber-charcoal, charcoal extraordinaire -
One stick will probably cover acres of paper, but I couldn't resist having three -
and gave the short, fat one a test drive. It took a while to get started, so that all that happened at first was fairly random marks, but after a while the stick got the hang of being used for drawing -
 Particularly pleasurable to use the end, flat, to quickly cover area -
Yes, charcoal is messy, all that fine dark dust - but SO satisfying!

Addendum  - seen, several weeks later, in the shop at West Dean -

28 July 2018

Studio Saturday

An idea came from somewhere and has started a new series. The "graph" paper is used as a grid for stitching, and is supported by sinamay inside -
Will the holes allow the clay to penetrate the paper, or is the paper not a barrier? 

When I started dipping, I was aiming to make book structures, and found that paper got coated in two separate layers of clay - the paper in between got burnt away, and the resulting layers of clay were very fragile, so that I still have a collection of thin shards. Aiming to make these pots a bit more sturdy than that! 

Some pots had been dipped and were now dry -
Extra clay added to fill in some of the loops

The stitches inside look very fragile
My work area feels chaotic, out of control, and the dipped pots in various stages of tidy-up leave me in some confusion. I've been keeping notes about the making of each one in my little book, but that system doesn't work. As the white shapes gradually accumulate (and wait for firing) I can no longer remember how they started, whether they have metallic stitching, etc.

What would be of greatest use in organising all this is the promised cubbyholes to go across the back of the table, covering the gap and meeting the wall, and with their top surface level with the window sill. They will provide security from things falling off the back of the table ("mind the gap"!) and allow me to organise my tools of various sorts.
 Under the table are tubs of slip and other items. Searching online I found a stack of plastic drawers to fit underneath, one each side, to hide all that clutter and allow for easier mopping of the tiles.

Both the building of the cubbyholes and the transport of the (bulky rather than heavy) plastic drawers need the help of the Domestic Carpenter. I am impatient for this to happen, of course, to the point of feeling I can do nothing else till the structures are in place.

However that sort of waiting would merely waste time, so Plan B is to put all my tools and materials onto some shelves elsewhere in the room.

Another component of Plan A is to document each pot: "start where you are, with what you have". Several "flow sheets" had been printed out and in filling in details of a few pots, some modifications to the sheets came to light. I'm using the flow sheets one by one, finding information about stitching and threads in my notebook as the dipped pot gets it fine tuning before firing.
Starting to take control
 I looked closely at what needed doing to each pot (cracks filling? base sorting out?) and separated them into groups. Handling the pots-to-be was soothing. Two were actually ready for firing!
Cracks need filling

Holes are to be fixed
Once each pot had been photographed and the groupings made and labelled, the tabletop was still full of "stuff" but the task of fine-tuning the pots felt less impossible. Not much visible progress, but by next week.....anything is possible......

At home I printed out revised forms and streamlined a system to download, crop, resize, and colour-adjust the photos, ready for cutting up and pasting to the form, then writing the description -
These will go into an A5 looseleaf binder, and I'll feel organised and in control.  The stumbling block is dealing with the backlog "in this heat" (which does rather sap the energy) but it's just a matter of Doing It - and then I'll feel Very Organised Indeed.

Meanwhile there were undipped pots to photograph for the record

Finally on Friday I started on finishing off the dipped pots, first of all making some crack-filling mixture with paper clay and gum arabic -
But is it the right thing for these fine cracks? The bases of the pots need smoothing too -
 Making progress -
I'm considering a suggestion that the pots should be numbered, and wonder if the dimensions of the pots would work as identifiers, perhaps with a A or B added if two pots happen to be the same size. Another part of the number would be the month the pot was fired. Will review this once all those on hand have been measured.
There had been thunder and rain, and as I left the yard the sky was was still dark and promising more moisture for the parched earth -

Inspiration of the week: Sara Radstone (via the Marsden Woo website) -
Mute (2013)
These "books" fascinated me and in fact they led to my first experiments in porcelain-dipping, with paper, as well as some clay books. 

This piece is also of interest, perhaps because of the textile texture -
Veils and Shadows Series III (2013)