Trip to La Perdrix, France.






France trip. Half of the Maker students undertook a trip to La Perdrix, ( where we worked with our course leader to complete an intense week long project. The project involved slab building a pinhole camera using raku clay (which has more grog in it than standard clay). I chose to build mine in a shape that represents the window of the room I stayed in. The slab building was hard because the clay was slightly too dry and cracked when I was building with it, luckily it fired well and a sturdy object was created. I also had problems with the “door” for the box – before it the bisque firing it was too small yet after it was too big. After a lot of sanding it fitted in well.


Nice to handle, nice to hold.


The first trial of porcelain is out of the kiln, it has only been put through a combustible bisque at 1000 degrees so it is not as translucent as it potentially could be. The ultra bright LEDs do not shine through the ceramic at the moment, I am hoping this will change after the next firing. However, I like them as objects to hold. Many people have commented on the smoothness of the object and how appealing it becomes when held. They feel fragile, as if they could be broken easily yet their structure is strong and they have a weight to them. I want the final instillation piece to involve light and also be an interactive piece of work. I want the objects I am creating to look touchable and to be held by the onlooker.

A change of direction.


I have chosen to re-assess my original concept and outcome of this project. Originally I was planning to create Ikea inspired lights with a Jacob’s Market twist. Unfortunately I have become so involved in the making of the objects my connection to Jacob’s has become weak. I also think that my love of the place was overpowering my work and enticing me to continue to make reference.

My “new” concept has been there all along –  it has just taken six weeks to work its way out of the abyss. So, now I am focusing on the made object, the raw material. The impurities that are inevitable are an intrinsic part of this. I am hanging a cluster or the lights with ultra bright LED’s inside to give a warm glow. The lights will also contribute to showing the thickness of the porcelain and where it is thicker. From a distance there will be a cloudy appearance to the work. As the onlooker gets closer to inspect the finer details the lights will dim and eventually switch off using a programmed arduino. This created a smooth and lifeless object. I think this will surprise the viewer. I also hope it can delight.

My reason for turning off the lights is simple. As you walk around Ikea your eye is caught by what seems to be an interesting object or piece of furniture that you believe you must have to improve your life. Upon closer inspection the shopper usually discovers the object is plain with no character, just like everything else the shop has to offer. This is because of the mass marketing industry that has become a part of so many of our lives.

Three is a crowd.


Finally out of the kiln. The works with a paper base have come out beautifully, I have no cracks in them which I am really happy about and they are just as fragile and delicate as the originals. Now, I need to do further glazing tests. The pieces created on embroidered thread are really interesting. Unfortunately they did crack whilst drying so are not as strong as the other pieces. The textures on the inside and out are wonderful, but I am developing objects that have a smooth appearance and are whole, so they do not have negative space within the surface. The problem with the embroidery is that they were too heavy whilst drying – also not enough clay was absorbed fast enough so they did not become leather hard quick enough. I am planning to make multiple artefacts to display as an instillation using light.  Tomorrow I will begin my adventures in porcelain.

Machine embroidered ceramics.


Machine embroidery dipped in slip. After a stitch workshop using “dissolvable” materials and embroidery as a three dimensional object I have chosen to wrap them around balloons and do what I do to all artefacts created at the moment – cover it in slip clay. These experiments were a lot heavier when drying because of the fabric, and they took a lot longer to become “leather hard.” I do not think this method of working will be as successful as using the paper as they began to crack before they dried. The outcome of these and the previous three created will be realised on Monday when I am able to retrieve them from the kiln.

And then there were lights.


Playing with LED lights. Created a cluster of battery powered ultra bright LED’s this morning to experiment with lighting up my shells. The stoneware slip is too opaque for this really, but you can see a difference if the tone of the ceramic. The cracks in the work make a difference too –  I think the light seeping through is something I have not yet given a thought to. It adds to the fragility of the object and this is something that has become important as I have already damaged many of my test pieces.

Round two.


Second attempt at ceramic balloons. This time I have popped the balloon whilst the slip is “leather hard” (hard, but not quite dry.) The waiting time was awkward, I was advised it would be about half an hour but it turned into fifty minutes. the balloon on the right had three layers of slip, not two so was not quite dry enough when I popped. It sunk as soon as the support was removed, but this could be more interesting. I am still waiting for them to be fired to see how they come out.

What’s the difference between clay and ceramic? 273 degrees.


Ceramic hand modelling workshops. Here I have created three reproductions of a jug bought from a charity shop on Albanny Road. They have been slab built and coiled to build a similar shape to the original. Soon I will use augmented reality and film making software software to animate my works and make them interactive.

Getting hot and sticky.



Open access workshop using Vinamould, it works a bit like silicone. Here I have taken a mould of a fork which I plan to use to create multiple wax forks that can be bent and twisted. It fits in with my 3D design brief in which I plan to use mundane objects that I will manipulate using Rhino. It will be printed out using a makerbot and finished by hand. I’m currently developing my ideas for the project to be presented this Friday.

A second original.


Finally got the chance to use my mould after a week of it drying. We used slip clay that is made by the technicians, as this is the easiest and most productive way to create work. The slip is poured into the mould and left for 20 minutes to form a “skin.” Because the mould is so small I let the clay dry soild instead of tipping out excess slip. The mould took an hour to dry. Once set I cut away the joining lines that are left by the mould and used a damp sponge to improve the finish. It will be fired in the next few days.