Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Merry Christmas and a happy 2009.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Jeff Mincham: Living Treasure 2009.

"Having completed five years of training, including a year with Milton Moon at the South Australian School of Art and one with Les Blakebrough at the Tasmanian School of Art, I was particularly well-equipped for a career in ceramics.
My first exhibition held at the Jam Factory, Adelaide in 1976 was a culmination of what had been a greatly varied student experience. However, by the time of my first Sydney exhibition, a strong landscape theme was clearly evident which has continued to evolve to the present time.
For over thirty years I have had the good fortune to live and work in a remarkable landscape setting at Cherryville in the Adelaide Hills. My studio window looks eastward across deep timbered valleys and forested ranges that provide a dramatic backdrop to some spectacular weather events, so it is hardly surprising that the colours, moods, textures and events of the landscape should find their way into my work.
For some seventeen years Raku dominated my output with many adaptations and variations. Having taught and demonstrated Raku techniques throughout Australia and widely overseas during this time, it was surprising that I rather suddenly moved in a different direction in 1996. Some residual of the Raku years stayed with me and I suppose always will, however an intense focus on landscape themes gave rise to a radically different range of techniques and processes not commonly known or used in the ceramics world. This process is ongoing and brings with it both frustration and excitement. I consider this essential to the nature of ceramics as an art form, even when it makes maintaining a demanding exhibition schedule very difficult. It also keeps alive the sense of adventure that clay has always had for me. Having survived for thirty years as a full-time practitioner, I still feel a sense of excitement at the prospect of new ideas and possibilities."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chunky shino.

This shino stands up so well. Have a look at the lump on the rim. I'm going to have some fun with this glaze.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Reduction fired porcelain.

My new favourite!
Look carefully, left and right sides you might just make out some circles.

Friday, November 28, 2008


This is a test bowl with a fancy rolled rim, but that's not what I love about it! It's the new shino glaze that's working a treat that I love. The shino glaze is the circular pattern. Over a glaze it doesn't do it's fancy shino orange effect, but when it's only on the clay body, and thin, it gives a wonderfull orange flash.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


400mm x 81mm

I occasionally make a big platter. This one is for my Uncle; He likes to cook up a storm.
I'll be in town this weekend Bill. Mixing bowls are coming soon, I promise.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Porcelain bowl with oxide.

It's cold this morning. It's been raining for the last couple of days and the hint of summer (a few days of +30 deg. C) seems to have washed away. Don't get me wrong, love the rain, we certainly need it.
A coffee and a few hours should fix the temp. and it can rain all day; love the sound of rain on a tin roof.
Today some little bowls are on the "to make list"; and maybe a Sake set. I was arranging a little bowl and bud vase, and the thought of a Sake set came to mind. They look nice together; you can have the Sake though.

Now for that coffee!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Altered porcelain vessel.

Bud vase.

A little bud vase on my desk is full to the brim with little paper daisies and billy buttons. Those paper daisies go on for weeks without any sign of deteriorating. You should get some. Sure to brighten up the day.

Altered porcelain .

It's not easy firing thin porcelain to a near state of melting, but the translucency and vitreous nature make it all worth the occasional loss. My last firing was just over cone ten (over 1280 deg. Celsius) not good, only two successful pieces from a whole kiln load. Cross fingers for the next firing.
I think my elements in the electric kiln are getting tired/old. The Harco kiln sitter chucks a wobbly at 1240 deg. So from then on it's up by only about 25 deg. an hour. And a vigilant watch through the spy hole with my welders goggles to watch the cone fall over. I've got a collection of bent cones now. I think they'd make a wonderful "African" wild animal tooth necklace. Any takers?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Clay delivered with a bulldozer.

Axedale clay.

This clay pile looks very dark. It's because it's wet. The little white patch to the left of the bulldozer is where he has scrapped the top off to get some dry clay. So it won't clag up in the crusher.

The pink clay to the right is more like McKenzie’s clay. More iron oxide and perhaps titanium.

It was overcast on the day. All the photos came back so flat. I had a fiddle with them. Now they're a touch on the contrasty side, and with a slight cyan cast. I'll have a fiddle with the RAW files later.

Come back again, I'm sorry.
I wanted to post them though. I think they are fascinating, regardless of the cast. I do realize they could be totally boring to most people too.

I went to Axedale (potters heaven)for some stoneware clay. The stoneware I've been using also comes from Axedale, but the other side of the creek, it's known as McKenzie's clay. I've been continuously getting "S" cracks with McKenzie's clay. I've tried everything to solve the problem, but now have given up! The Axedale clay is whiter, but does not (supposedly) have an issue with "S" cracks. I can always add a bit of iron oxide to the body for my Shino and Celedon glazes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Rough and ready Shino one day. Soft subtle porcelain the next.
I love them both!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


A great selection of AUSTRALIAN STUDIO CERAMICS 1930–1990 is up for auction.
You can have a look at the catalogue online click here.
Auction is on:
162 Queen Street
Woollahra NSW 2025 Australia
Gallery hours Mon–Fri 9am–5pm, Sat 11am–5pm
Ph: (612) 9326 1588
Fax: (612) 9326 1305

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Red enamel.

I've been having fun with red enamel. I've discovered that if you over fire it it can split like it has in these photos. And I love it! But, if you don't do it right, it runs all over the place, and that looks horrible. Too horrible to put on my blog spot. Just think of lots of dribbling red and you've got it. It also doesn't do a lot of good to your kiln shelves. So, if you want to give it a burl, I suggest putting your pieces on throw away bits of shelf.

Ferris wheels and wind turbines.

There are a lot of Ferris wheels and wind turbines going up these days. Not enough wind turbines, but far too many Ferris wheels.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Red enamel illustrations.

I rarely draw ideas prior to working on the actual form. I'm not much of a drawer, wish I was. So, I'm usually none the wiser after a doodle; tend to work it through in my head. But, with the red enamel that I've been applying to some finished pieces, it has been helpful to place the lines on illustrations.
The pieces cooling down in the kiln have had the lines placed a third of the way up (the golden mean), but after these illustrations I will place some lines in the middle.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Environment as influence.

Ever since a bowl I made (landscape bowl) earlier in the year, I've wondered how much the environment has an influence on my work. I've always known it has an influence to some degree. In the first year of my first tertiary education in photography, we were all told "everything you ever see in art is a copy from nature" bold statement one would think, but if you look around (especially wall paper and grandma's couch) much of that is true.
I moved from Melbourne to central Victoria just over two years ago. Not long after moving, I started using local stoneware clay. More of a physical influence than a visual one, but that has caused a visual influence on my glaze and decoration. To both the stoneware and porcelain. I suppose the need to dress up the stoneware has made me look for new glazes and decoration. And that together with walks through a local forest has helped influence my colour palette. The first glaze I worked on was a blue
celadon, quite vivid/striking. I then moved to a subtle grey blue celadon on the stoneware; it comes out as a pale green on the porcelain. To this I've added iron oxide and shino horizontal brushwork. I would suggest that those choices have been influenced by the local forest.
Central Victoria looks like extending its twelve year drought. It was looking hopeful during winter. The rainfall was just below average. I almost got tired of it. I certainly learnt how to use an umbrella again! It took me a few days to find it though. When I lived in Melbourne I had a whole extended family of umbrella's. But, here in Central Victoria it has not rained properly for months, plants are dying again. So I guess iron oxide and shino glazes will remain part of my glaze list.
I had to add this photo as there are some wonderful flowers in the Whistick State forest. Against the conditions of a harsh environment they survive. Really I don't know how some of these plants do it. I dug up a little Acacia I planted in my own garden at the start of winter. It was still standing proud after weeks of hot sun and little attention from my watering can. The soil it was in was almost aqua phobic. It's in a big pot now and watered every day, it must be wondering what the heck happened.
*This photo of power lines and pole is a reference/homage to Sophie Milne and her observation of the environment as influence.
Once there pointed out; dang things are everywhere now.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stoneware and porcelain.

Sometimes I wonder whether I should be doing both porcelain and stoneware. They are such opposites.
I started using stoneware this year because I was interested in the process of making it. Using a filter press and a pug mill.
Really it's like photographing black and white one day and colour the next. You really should not do it. Two different ways of seeing.
The same goes for stoneware and porcelain. Porcelain is translucent and delicate. I throw my stoneware chunky(Think mixing bowls)and durable.
I do like both though. But, I would not have considered stoneware this time last year. funny how taste changes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Potters wheel.

Well after my procrastination in the morning, I ended up having a productive day in the studio. The sun was out, the day was warm, but not too hot.
There was a smell of burning eucalypt. The CFA were doing a burn off, the smoke was billowing over the horizon. We do need some rain. Could be a bad summer for bush fires if it continues like this.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

St. Kilda seagulls.

I feel like these seagulls at the moment. Only for me it's being caught in the early end of year panic. Trying to get things done while I can see an even bigger storm on the horizon. I can't wait for the summer holidays. Maybe a trip to the beach is in order this year. Sorrento or Gunnamatta Beach. It's been years since I've battled a big wave. Then again, I like the idea of my usual summer trip to The High Country. It's usually ten degrees cooler and 99% quieter.
But for now (desperately sipping the last drop of coffee) it's time to get back into the studio.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Video clips.

I spent a fair bit of yesterday putting together a video/slideshow clip. You can find it at the bottom right of this page.

I have also put a “tilt shift” clip below it. My brother sent me a number of links to tilt shift clips. I was starting to worry about his state of mind with the first few. But, when I watched the one I’ve embedded below, I was clapping my congratulations. It’s so good.

If any of the clips stall. Click the pause button to let the loading catch up. The tilt shift clip in particular, seems to take a lot of time to download; it's worth the wait though.

Anyway, I’m off to the studio NOW. I spent way to much time in front of this computer yesterday.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Glaze test (body & glaze reduction).

The results from Thursdays glaze test.
I had a surprise. The tile at top centre, with the black dot was a similar recipe to the others (clear gloss) but with the addition of magnesium. Hence, like talc. it has a lovely satin finish. I already have a fantastic satin glaze; half talc and magnesium. But, this one breaks to gloss. Giving a wonderful look of a frosted ice.
I have a new coding system (hopefully I'll stick to it) instead of numbering a glaze test session 1 through six (I usually do tests in batches of six) I have gone back to using letters AA, Ab, AC etc. The other day I tried to work out a glaze test I did months ago. The paper work had not been kept with the test tiles; it's impossible to look at a series of recipes and re match it to a glaze test. So hopefully I'll stick to the lettering protocol and be able to go back to an old glaze test tile and know what recipe goes with it.
I always put a black texta dot on the test tiles I like. And a cobalt pencil line at the top (under the glaze) to see if there is any movement.

The bowl was in this firing too.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Heavy metal.

Vorto cups.

These cups are another favourite of mine. Been making them for years now. The glaze is totally food safe too. Something that bothered me for years. To get a nice solid chocolate or black you generally load a clear glaze with heavy metals like manganese dioxide, cobalt carb., copper carb., black/red iron oxide etc. Choose three of these and away you go. I'd prefer not to use any of them, as in various quantities they are deadly. The iron oxide (basically rust) is what I do use though; still toxic in quantity, but you’d need to eat a fair bit.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A little late in the day.

Ah, my favourite little Itiko tea cups. Itiko, a name I made up out of thin air. Back in the day when everything had to have a different name; not of my choosing. I'm happy to call a cup a cup, a bowl a bowl. I can even cope with a string of letters and numbers for simple coding. Guess the real reason why I can cope with no name, is because I'm hopeless at coming up with a name that does not sound daggy the next day.
Anyway, hopefully something new to show next week. I spent the day today by the gas kiln ensuring a heavy reduction from 800 deg. to 1280 deg. So, hopefully a good reduction to the clay body and glaze.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kickwheel request.

If you have a kickwheel that you think others might like to see, please contact me.


I'm about to go to the studio for a day of glazing. Glaze combinations! Decisions, decisions. Always a gloss glaze for the inside (practical) black, clear or celedon? As for the outside, a satin matt or gloss; black, white or celedon? I think I'll leave shino and iron oxide brush work for another firing. Must re fire a few of the pieces from this firing with some red enamel brush work for Craft Victoria's Christmas stock. That should be fun. A new direction maybe. Enamels.
I always try to limit the amount of variations. The last few months have seen another explosion of new glaze and brushwork. I suppose as always, the next few months will weed out the good from the not so good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Porcelain bowls.

Magnesium glazed bowl left, celedon glazed bowl on right.

The bowl on the left has a magnesium glaze, and is fired in an electric kiln; so an oxidation atmosphere. The bowl on right has a celedon glaze, and has been fired in a gas kiln, in a reduction atmosphere.

Japanese tea ceremony.

Photo: andrew widdis
Photo: andrew widdis

I found this lovely Shino glazed tea ceremony bowl when I was at The Tokyo National Museum, last year. I also saw a lovely Shino (below)tea ceremony bowl at The British Museum' Crafting beauty in modern Japan exhibition last year. From those two bowls I have found my interest in "Shino". Before actually seeing true Japanese Shino's I never really understood its simple beauty. That goes for the vessels too! You could at first think of them as naive pottery, but there’s something about knowing your technique so well that you can start to simplify the form and decoration. Rugged beauty!

Teabowl, 2006
Suzuki Osama (b.1934)
Stoneware with glaze, Shino style.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Eureka Tower.

Eureka Tower looking from Birrarung Marr.
Now I must dash; have train to catch! Back to Bendigo, and a kiln load of bisqued vessels to glaze. Oxidation firing, so no Celedon!