Home Truths – Project Theme

After the group tutorial today I knew I wasn’t happy with my idea for the project and decided to try and think of something completely new. My initial idea was to create work with a personal narrative based on a memory from my life. As I wanted to create illustrative and figurative work for the project I thought I could base the work on my memory of the two cats we had when I was younger. After my feedback in the tutorial I realised that this idea didn’t have enough body to it, and that it was too simple as it didn’t have a wider context for the audience who view the work to relate to.

After this tutorial I decided I wanted to think of a completely new idea, as I wasn’t happy with the route I was going. I tried to think about ideas that related to animals, as I found when doing my research I was most drawn to ceramics work that involved animal imagery. Here are some examples:

I started researching into endangered animals and animals that have gone extinct as this is a big issue in the world currently. I found quite a few interesting websites and thought that extinct animals would be more suitable for the theme of commemoration. This idea could work well with the inclusion of text – the name of the animal and the year it officially was declared extinct.

These are some of the extinct animals that I found when researching:

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West African Black Rhino – Officially declared extinct 2011.

 

 

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Thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) – Last one called Benjamin died 7th September 1936 in a zoo.

 

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Quagga (zebra subspecies) – Last one died 12th August 1883 in Amsterdam zoo.

 

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Pyrenean Ibex – Last one called Celia died 6th January 2000.

 

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Barbary lion – Last one shot in the wild in 1922.

 

 

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Zanzibar leopard – Last recorded sighting in the 1980s.

 

 

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Javan Tiger – Last known sighting in 1979, declared officially extinct in 2003.

 

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Mexican Grizzly Bear – Officially declared extinct 1964.

 

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Baiji River Dolphin – Officially declared extinct 2006.

 

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Carolina Parakeet – Last one died in Cincinnati zoo in 1918.

 

 

Steller's Sea Cow

 

 

Steller’s Sea Cow – Officially declared extinct 1768.

 

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Home Truths – Session 3

MAKING CERAMICS FROM MOULDS

Today I learnt how to create bowls, plates and dishes by using plaster moulds and a banding tool.

Step 1 – The first step of the process is to roll out a slab of clay to roughly half a centimetre. If this is done on a rough fabric you end up with a nice textured look on the clay.

Step 2 – Next I roughly draped the clay over my chosen mould, in this example it was a small bowl shape. I then trimmed of the excess clay and patted it down onto the mould.

Step 3 – Once the clay was pressed down enough I used the banding tool to slowly spin the bowl while trimming the clay up to the edge of the mould.

Step 4 – At this stage I used the kidney tool to smooth out any lumps on the shape.

Step 5 – As the bowl didn’t have a flat base, I needed to make a foot ring in order for the bowl to be able to stand up. To do this I rolled out a small square of clay to about 1cm thickness. I then placed it on to the mould and slowly span the banding tool to mark an accurate circle with a blade.

Step 6 – Next I cut this out and smoothed over the edges. I then used the blade to roughly mark out the centre position.

Step 7 – To attach the piece I needed to scratch into the surface of the bowl and the foot ring that I was putting onto it.

Step 8 – I then painted each scratched surface with a generous amount of slip to join them together.

Step 9 – Once I had placed the foot ring onto the bowl I used a sponge to smooth out the join and the edges.

Step 10 – I then finished off my smoothing over the whole bowl using a sponge, my fingers and a kidney tool.

I found this method of creating shapes much easier that using the throwing wheel. It was more relaxing and easier to control the shape of the piece I was making. I would like to try this technique again as it enabled me to create bowls and plates quite quickly and to a standard I was happy with.

Turning My Pots

TURNING MY THROWN POTS

Today I went back down to ceramics after constellation so that I could turn the pots that I made yesterday. I did it today because if I left them over the weekend they would be too dried out and hard to do anything else to. I enjoyed turning the pots as it has neatened them up a lot, they look much better now. I found the process quite relaxing and enjoyable in comparison to actually throwing the pots. Turning the pots is useful if you want to make the edges thinner and neaten the base. One of my bowls that was already quite thin unfortunately cracked a little bit when I was turning it, but only a small piece broke off so I just smoothed over the edge and it doesn’t look too bad. You can see it in the far right image.

 

Home Truths Session 2 – Throwing

THROWING POTS

Today I tried throwing clay on the potters wheel for the first time. I found it a valuable experience to try out as I have never done it before. I found it quite hard to get the hang of, but I did manage to make three decent bowl shapes. We were using about 500g of white clay for each piece. I think with throwing practice makes perfect, so the more I do it hopefully the easier it will become. I found it really exciting to successfully make something on the potters wheel, as it was fun to learn something completely new and just have a go at it!

The part that I found the hardest was getting the clay centred at the start. This was frustrating because if the clay isn’t centred correctly the whole pot will turn out wonky!

I enjoyed the process but it wasn’t the easiest technique, so I am going to keep my options open to other making techniques, since this is such a short project. I know that we are going to use moulds next week, which could be more appropriate for the project as it might be an easier technique to get the hang of in the amount of time I have.

 

Home Truths Session 2 – Slip Decoration

SLIP DECORATION

For the first half of the day we were given a slab of clay each. We were able to experiment on these with different slip colours and tried out some of the decorative techniques that Matt showed the group. The first thing I did was cut my clay into small rectangles and rolled them out a bit thinner. 

TECHNIQUE 1 - STENCIL

Step 1 – Use a sponge or soft hake brush to apply a background with your chosen slip colour. I chose yellow for the plant sample and yellow and blue combined for the star sample.

Step 2 – Cut out your stencil shapes using paper towels. Place the stencil pieces onto the clay and use a paper towel to dab on top, this helps them stay in place. 

Step 3 – Paint completely on top of your stencil, for both of these samples I chose white, as I think this will make my designs stand out clearly. Do this carefully as the stencil pieces have a tendency to stick to the brush or sponge. Dab on top of the clay again to dry off this layer of slip. 

Step 4 – Lift off the stencil pieces with a potters pin. It’s easier to take a photo of where you placed each one before you paint on top to help remember where each one is.

I enjoyed this technique as it reminds me of collage, and will hopefully create quite clean edges on the designs.

TECHNIQUE 2 - SGRAFFITO

Step 1 – Apply a background with a hake brush or sponge. I chose white for these tiles. If it’s really wet dab over with a paper towel.

Step 2 – Use a potters pin to score/carve into the clay. This is good for creating detailed and thin marks.

Step 3 – I added colour in some of the shapes with a small paintbrush to make the samples a bit more interesting. 

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For the leopard sample, I painted a rough shape in my chosen colours with a small paintbrush on top of a white background. I then used the potters pin to scratch in an outline to help define the design. I found this quite hard to do neatly, especially painting on the slip as it was quite thick.

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TECHNIQUE 3 - INLAYING

Step 1 – Using a looped modelling tool carve into the clay to remove a layer. (similar to lino cutting)

Step 2 – Use a card to scrape away the messy edges of where the cuts are.

Step 3 – Fill all holes with a thick layer of slip, then dab with a paper towel.

Step 4 – Remove any excess clay with a scraper, this only leaves slip in the carved lines. 

I didn’t have time to try out this technique in this session, but I am interested to see how the effect comes out once it has been fired and glazed. 

TECHNIQUE 4 - RIPPED LAYERS

Step 1 – Tear paper towels up into strips (or any other shape, can also be done with leaves)

Step 2 – Place a few strips onto the plain clay, leave some paper hanging over the edge so it’s easier to remove later on. Press down with a paper towel.

Step 3 – Paint a layer of slip on top (this technique works best starting with light and moving to dark colours). When doing this hold down the pieces of tissue to stop them from moving. Dab with a paper towel to dry off the layer.

Step 4 – Add another layer of tissue strips and press down with a paper towel. 

Step 5 – Paint another layer of slip down in a different colour to before. Dab with a paper towel. 

Step 6 – Repeat this process as many times as you want. 

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I tried this technique on the sample on the right, but I didn’t do very many layers. The tile on the left is a combination of colours dabbed with a sponge for the background, with blue painted marks on top. I am interested to see how the colours come out and how well they blend together. 

Home Truths – Artist Research

SHAYNA STEVENSON

I love the simple, cartoon-like style of this artists work. The pieces are fun and detailed, and are lovely to look at. I really like the focus of animals and plants in the work as these are things that I like to draw myself. The shape of the pots cause the designs to follow around the edge like a story, which I think is effective. I am interested in trying to use decorative techniques in a similar way to this artist.

STEPHEN BIRD

I was drawn to this work as it has a strong sense of narrative, each piece depicts a scene which seems to tell a story. I like the use of traditional blue and white for the colours, as this links to traditional ceramics but has the contrast of modern, illustrative designs. The work is quite unusual and I like how much detail there is in each piece. The watercolour effect of the glaze works well as it adds some texture to the work.

VICKY LINDO & BILL BROOKES

These pieces are made with very detailed sgraffito, which reminds me of the look of a lino print. I like the use of strong bright colours as this makes the designs stand out and have contrast against the white backgrounds. I love the involvement of pattern within the shapes, and the sense of fun and character that the animals in the work have.