Seaweed pinch pot

Seaweed pinch pot

Saturday, 24 October 2015

twilight market

I'm going to be at Made n Thornbury craft market again next week (last time for this year!) - it's a Friday afternoon/evening twilight market this time: 4-8 pm 99 Leinster Grove Thornbury.

I have quite a few cups and mugs like the ones in this shot, as well as some vases. It should be a nice evening - I really enjoyed the twilight market the last two years. Maybe see you there!

Monday, 3 August 2015

windows of branches

beakers with designs inspired by the patterns tree-branches make against the sky

Recently I've been making mugs, beakers, bowls and vases. Some of these I've been using to explore, using oxides and glaze, the visual affect of light through the branches when you're in a forest or under a tree canopy looking up. It's something I've been fascinated by for a long while, and I imagine it could keep me enthralled for a long time yet.  One of the things that holds me is a feeling that the patterns made by trees are somehow psychologically soothing and uplifting. I wasn't sure if this was an individual thing: I spent many hours of my childhood lying under trees looking up at the sky and so it's not hard to see that I'd bring my own fond memories to my adult experience, but co-incidentally I came across an article in the New Yorker just a few days ago describing how, according to new research, time spent looking at trees (even images of trees) calms us down and gives us a psychological boost. And interestingly it's not about deliberate, focussed sort of looking, but just seeing them in an undirected sort of way. Having trees around (or at least visual stimuli akin to trees) seems to be the key.

Different trees make different types of patterns of course and I'd love to know whether the type or form of the tree makes a difference to the way our brains are affected by its visual presence.  I imagine this is some very ancient brain wiring being touched upon. So much yet to learn.

Last Friday I dropped off a bunch of this new work to SMALLpieces gallery (at Northcote Pottery Supplies) - I'm excited to be their 'featured artist' for the month of August. You'll find my work in the window display there this month.
some more recent work, including a beaker with carved forest design and a cylindrical vase with textured wattle impressions rubbed with oxides

I'm also loving making some vases with seed-pod inspired forms and simple, comfortable mugs

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

tests with carved drawings

As I've been getting more and more enthused about tree-branch drawings on my hand-built pieces (as mentioned in this post) I've been bringing this interest to some functional-ware as well... and testing out oxides and glazes. 
Inspired by the mid-fire results I'm seeing on my 'study day' with Shane Kent (where all our work is fired to cone 6) I'm also considering transitioning to cone 6 for all my functional-ware.
Small test pieces (or sake cups) with carved drawing inlayed with a copper carbonate and iron oxide slip and glazed with a translucent satin glaze with lithium carbonate in it. Cone 6 fired.

Two (each side) as above contrasting with the middle one which has the same oxide slip but a satin glaze without lithium carbonate was used, and it was fired to cone 9. The colour result on the middle one is less interesting in my opinion.  

Friday, 10 April 2015

making whorls

Something other than pots! Last year I was approached by the lovely Rebecca of Needle & Spindle about the possibility of making some ceramic spindle whorls. Spindle whorls?  These intriguing little objects are something straight out of ancient history - they were/are used for spinning yarn. Rebecca is an amazing spinner and knitter with a keen interest in ancient technologies (check out this blog entry of her's to get the picture). 

I didn't know a thing about spindle whorls when Rebecca approached me about this but a few google searches (specifically on viking whorls, at Rebecca's direction) gave me the picture and I set to making some. They were a pleasure to make and it was a delight to be part of what seemed like a project from another era. 

Rebecca is a generous and eloquent blogger and she wrote a couple of blog post about that batch of whorls, and took some lovely images - check them out here and here. I especially loved the second post in which she details how she took the whorls bush camping and fashioned a shaft out of bracken and proceeded to spin her yarn and then dye it with leaves, all while camping! Now that's true low-tech ingenuity. 

This week I've been making a new batch of whorls because there were a few things I think I didn't get right the first time ... so I thought I'd share the process.

First I form the basic shape, flattening small balls of clay by pinching

Making the hole. This is the part I felt I didn't get right last time... I waited until the discs were leather hard and opened up a hole with a drill-bit - the result was holes that were not as smooth as I would like and probably not big enough for the shaft to fit in some cases. This time I made the hole with a pencil in soft clay and worked on creating a smooth and tapering shape that will hopefully be more practical fitting a shaft to.

At leather hard stage I smoothed the surface a little, ready for carving the designs.

The freshly carved designs, inspired by Victorian flora

This shot shows the profile of one of the whorls - I imagine the decorated, slightly concave side of the whorl facing upward when in use, and the extra thickness underneath should help with the spin (I think? or maybe just help with the stable attachment to the shaft).

Rebecca put me on to this book (found in the local library) which gave me some insights into how whorl shapes affect the spinning... because I don't spin myself I'm still not confident my whorls are great for spinning with, but it's been a fun thing to learn about!

This batch isn't finished yet... they will be bisque fired then oxides will be brushed on and rubbed back before firing again. You can see the ones from last year in Rebecca's afore-mentioned blog posts though... and while you're there do check out some of her other posts - they are always a delight! (here: Needle & Spindle)

Thursday, 2 April 2015

makers market at True North

Some new pieces and an upcoming market.
banded vases

'wiry buttons' cup and banded vase

carved vase and some new pink and green tea cups

Monday, 23 March 2015

hello blog

Long time between posts... much going on in the studio though! 
I've been investigating new cup forms and, well, continuing to put in the hours on the wheel to develop control and ease. One week I'll be hooked on improving my cylinders, another week it might be bowls. Most exciting though is my 'study day' with Shane Kent and a keen group of other clay lovers here in Melbourne. My study focus has been on developing hand-built and thrown bodies of work that investigate tree branches and the negative spaces they capture. I've been playing around with ways of depicting branches on pots for a while but now, guided by Shane's critical eye and knowledge of materials, creative breakthroughs are aplenty!
test tiles with crackle engobe and copper line-work... some vessels drawing on this early testing are in the pipeline

Some wheel work where the investigations during my 'study day' are finding another expression

New cups - not everything has branches on it now!