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....