Seaweed pinch pot

Seaweed pinch pot

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

foray into paper clay

I bought some paper clay a couple of weeks ago. I've never used it before and to be honest I wasn't really convinced about it - I mean, I hear (and see) you can achieve amazing things with it - precarious sculptural works, unlikely 'joins' and very large hand built pieces - all of which I've admired. I think my resistance to using it might be partially due to some strange of mine that I need to know the limits of normal old clay first - it feels just a bit like cheating to go for a product that (by the sounds of things) all but eliminates any concerns about cracking or broken joins or the like. Anyway - I overcame these reservations and bought the stuff, partially because I was itching to make something big and hand built to break away from my wheel practice. (Throwing is great but my current skill level limits me to pretty small stuff which sometimes feels quite restrictive). So this was my unfired paper clay debut:

paperclay coil-built vessel - about 40 cms tall...I plan to use oxides or stains to bring out the texture in the surface design

It was quite different working with paper clay - felt like half way between clay and paper-mache, which I guess is exactly what it is - strong but not as plastic I felt (I hope I have the right idea of what 'plastic' is referring to in clay-speak). Not totally won over by it yet but it certainly did seem very forgiving of technical slackness (e.g. letting the rim dry too much between coils) - the firing will be the real test of that of course.

Funny how I ended up making such a traditional vessel form - I had actually wanted to make something more sculptural, but I can see now that I need to do some more work in the design phase to make this conscious shift, as traditional 'pot' shapes (like this) seem to be in my muscle-memory when it comes to coil building (I did a series of Ancient Greek and African inspired coil built pots for a year 12 ceramics project many years ago - could that be it?). One of my inspirations to dabble again in larger coil built vessels was watching this video of Merredith Knapp Brickell, and looking at her amazing sculptural vessel forms here. Bit different to what I've made here! Gosh, I really love those curved bottoms, strong forms, large volumes with a fine rim! I wonder what sort of clay she uses....



4 comments:

  1. I had to smile when I read your opening comments about your "resistance" to using paper clay, as your feelings about it mirror my own. Well done for overcoming misgivings and giving it a try, it is always refreshing to break out and try new things!

    I like the form of the pot that you have made, and the decoration, it will be nice to see it fired. I wonder if paper clay can be burnished?? I suspect not, but I guess it might if it could be persuaded to take a coating of Terra Sigillata??

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    1. Thanks Peter! And I'm glad I'm not the only one who has a bit of a paper clay prejudice. It is good to try something new though - and I'm hoping that with the rest of the clay I have I'll manage to push it a bit further - let it come into its own with a form that other clay probably couldn't manage... but we'll see. And I wasn't sure about paper clay and Terra Sigillata but I just googled it and it seems others do this, so I'm very keen to try - I love burnished surfaces and the paper clay on its own doesn't really lend itself to it. I've never tried Terra Sigillata - other new challenge. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  2. Hmm thought I'd left a comment here already but I obviously pressed the delete instead of post button! Anyway it looks like it's going well Nina, it must be liberating to scale up. Here's a vid you might be interested in, have you seen it? Maria Bosch making big vessels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QLMCc_SUGg

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    1. Hi Georgia - thanks heaps for that link to Maria Bosch at work, hadn't seen it before - loved it!! Totally inspired me - can't wait to give some of her hand-building methods a shot. I love her organic forms - those wobbly vessels are clearly the result of much thought.
      And btw I did get your first comment forwarded to my email but then it wasn't here when I came to the page, so not sure what happened there. Anyway - thanks very much for the comment and the link.

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