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!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Point Ormond, Elwood, Victoria, Australia.

I'm in St. Kilda and nearby today.
From top: Point Ormond, Elwood, Victoria, Australia; to be exact! Looking towards Melbourne CBD. Brighton North, looking towards Portsea. Brighton North, old pier.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Federation Square-again!

I have a busy day ahead in the studio. I have to get a bisque fire on, so I can go to Melbourne on an early train tomorrow. Yes, I'm in Bendigo posting Fed Square photos, but I like them and I think it's better than posting another Celedon bowl (plenty of time for celedon next week). So, this is all I had time to do during my morning coffee! Looking forward to the other side of the weekend, especially a glaze firing early next week. A glaze firing is always exciting.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Federation Square.

Encouraged by Sophie Milne to look up, I found myself doing just that at Fed. Square.

Fed. Square, Containing the Potter Gallery. You would think with a name like that, it would have more ceramics than paintings, but it is misleading. It's actually named after Ian Potter.
Home of Australia' best art. All home grown too. European art is housed at the original NGV at 180 St. Kilda Road.
Upstairs, top floor, you'll find my favourite paintings. Fred Williams' Pilbara series.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sophie Milne.

Sophie's new work uses stain inlay and sgraffito lines in coloured engobes for motif of power lines. This at first appears a big departure from her previous work, but as the artist reveals, it is not. Sophie's work has always revolved around lines of some sort. Where in the past her mark making was influenced by geology, now her visual inspiration is drawn from power lines - looking up, not down. The new style is less abstract, but at the same time less functional. In this body of work Sophie is not so driven to make functional vessels and is more intent on letting the symbolic narrative be the driver.

The abstract nature of power lines, their rhythms and patterns, first occurred to Sophie during her guest-artist residency at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia in 2007. Upon her return home she saw these lines anew, where previously they had merged with the general urban landscape.

In the past Sophie ran a shop/studio with Katherine Myers, followed by a period sharing a studio at Northcote Pottery’s original site in Thornbury. Now called Northcote Pottery Supplies, the business recently moved to Brunswick East and Sophie has established a private studio within this new complex. As well as tutoring in wheel-thrown ceramics Sophie has begun managing and curating shows at the newly established Pan Gallery. The gallery has now hosted three shows, and has found an eager audience.

Pan Gallery is hoped to be a place for nurturing "up and coming artists". Specializing in ceramics of course.

Sophie has recently started a blog of her own, called “six hundred degrees”

I was eager to see what direction this blog would take, as it's such a different medium for potters who are used to working with physical visual mediums. I am glad to see Sophie's blog has added some interesting topics.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Stephen Dillon.

I've been fortunate to have been in contact with Stephen Dillon, and for him to have told me of what inspires him to make such interesting and wonderful sculpture.
It is distressing to hear of this plight that drew him to develop this body of work, but what a wonderful way to express it and inform us of the skills that have otherwise been lost to us from the youth that felt helpless enough to have ended their lives. Let us never under value the people around us, no matter what their situation. Everyone has a story to tell/to share.
Again, thank-you Stephen for making us think, and for sharing your wonderful skills.

"I don't think inspired is the word to use, but when I was at university 18+youths under the age of 17 committed suicide within a 3 month period. This was in the area where I grew up and is no greater than 1mile square in size. I wanted to make work that would make people think that youths from disadvantaged backgrounds are people and not wee bastards who deserve what they get.
All the work was made very quickly, coiled to about a height of 35". Each figure took maybe 2 hours at most to make, and depending on the finish I used decoration took 30 to 60min. The firing was varied some figures fired to 1120 and others to 1300 reduction. The figure that you have on your blog for instance was fired 3 times. A think coat of porcelain slip then fired to 1200 then engobe was used to fill the cracks/crazing in the porcelain fired again to 1100 then underglazes used to discolour the surface then fired to 1220 (i think)
For my degree show I believe I have about 35 figures. (15 were destroyed in a nasty dominoes style massacre.) Over the year and a half of making I think more than 150 were made, the failure rate was high at the start because I couldn't find a clay body that suited my making style."
Stephen Dillon.

Deborah Halpern' sculpture "Angel".

This wonderfully colourful sculpture called "Angel" was created by Deborah Halpern. It was situated to the left side of the National Gallery of Victoria entrance for 18 years. It now has a wonderful new home on the bank of Melbourne' Yarra river at Birrarung Marr.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Celedon bowl.

Another celedon bowl. If only I'd had this green glaze for Craft Victoria last Christmas. Craft Victoria comes up with a different colour every Christmas that they ask suppliers to use, and last year was green. This year it's red. So I'm working on that! Maybe I'll have something red to show here next week.
For a look at Craft Victorias Christmas, click here!

Plants for colour.

Australian native plants have a unique texture and colour. I love the colours/texture/shape of the Australian Bush. I'm lucky enough to live with in walking distance of a protected forest. And to have started a garden of my own from solely indigenous flora. I wish more people would encourage the flora from their own surrounds. It's self rewarding when you discover lizards and birds from your area starting to return to what was once their garden too.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Itiko cups.

This is a cup I call "Itiko". Don't ask me why? other than it sounded Japanese it's just a (to me) nice sounding name. I've been making these for some years now. I use a glaze I call "black rabbit". It has the characteristics of a hares fur glaze (vertical drag lines) but is made quite differently. Basically it's the iron oxide that is being dragged by gravity when it's melting at 1280 deg. c. that makes the affect.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bowl with line and dot.

Back to plain white bowls.
I love the simplicity of form and line. It's easy to cover a vessel with lots of colour in order to try and give it something special. It's harder to make something simple stand out. But if you get it right, then for me, the rewards are well worth it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Celedon glaze (close up).

I love a firing with lots of new glazes (if it's working). For days after you start to see it in different ways. Sometimes a glaze that you first thought was awful turns out to be a new favourite. I think this can happen because you expected it to look a certain way, and when you open the kiln door for that first look; it does not always turn out the way you expected. Probably why I keep making new glazes. And it's also probably why I have not bored of ceramics.

Victor Greenaway.

Victor Greenaway is currently living and working in Orvieto (Umbria). He is painting and drawing as well as making porcelain in Marino Moretti’s studio at Viceno.
Victor plans to have two shows during June/July next year. One at
Skepsi on Swanston in July and the other at Cudgegong Gallery NSW in June.
I will definitely be going to the Skepsi show.

I wonder wether I should offer to help him bring his work back to Australia?

Would have to stay in Orvieto for a while before returning of course. One of these days I'm sure, or should I say "hope" someone overseas will offer me the use of a studio?