Being accepted for the 2020 Charnwood ceramics fair I have begun to develop a product range of functional objects which can be sold alongside my organic and biomorphic sculptures. These will be decorated with the same patterns and colours I have developed in my practice. I have been trying to learn how to throw not just to make vases, bowls etc but as a new method of making which can be adapted to the sculptures.
The decided glaze
A new set of test tiles came out the kiln and finally I am happy with the glaze. It is not too shiny but very vibrant in colour, all the characteristics I was searching for! These tiles will be used to inform the colour combinations for my sculptural works.
I have also been decorating the mobiles this week! I tried to broaden my pattern spectrum by looking at exotic plants, particularly succulents and cacti. I find not drawing directly from the plants enables me to free up the drawing process, making it less restrictive and more exploratory inn nature.
I wanted to make colourful and vibrant mobiles to suspend from the ceiling as an installation which could be walked under. I used thick watercolour paper to paint on, however, completely saturating it caused the paper to warp. I decided to learn how to stretch paper, a simple process which can prevent this buckling. This process involves taping the paper to a flat surface and saturating with water and allowing to dry before painting. I was really happy with how the watercolour paint and acrylic inks dispersed across the paper.
The tiles came out of the kiln and I am really happy with the vibrancy and intricacy which the glazes achieve! I am going to do more tests of the glaze next week without a matte glaze on the top to see if it effects the shine and colour!
Two of three sculptures
I have made a target of three large sculptures to create before the end of March. They will be constructed using the same process, aiming to be complimentary of one another but still exploring various forms. I have decided to return to the smooth form as the ‘clay lumps’ which I attached on the first sculpture were too separate and alien to the form, they created an uncomfortableness.
Busy week making this week! Started making one of the larger scale ceramic sculptures which I hope to make a group of. Took the best part of 4 days to complete which was much slower than I has anticipated!
I have also been decorating tiles to test my new glazes on! I have been testing how much detail I can achieve by using various different brushes and application techniques! I shall be finishing these off next week and seeing the results!
Glazed ceramics out the kiln! Very pleased with this outcome! The layers of glazes that I had built up worked really well!
Building Biomorphic Forms
I began to coil build a large sculpture. I started with a wobbly shaped base and this made the form more interesting and less spherical. I also decided not to add the lumps onto this one as I felt it would be good to see if the sculpture is more effective without. I also have been researching different glazes and I believe I have found the resolution to the matte/shiny/colourful problem. The only set back is that the glazes I require are sadly quite a lot more expensive, however I have ordered a set and shall see if they are worth the investment!
I also spent the week making small wooden pieces with the idea to make an, installation which is a collection of colourful organic shapes. I was really happy with the results and I am going to explore other woods which could be used to cut and possibly see if I could reduce the making time by getting them layer cut.
Exhibition Installation! I spent the start of the week delivering the artworks to Milton Keynes University Hospital. The hospital have a large storing and framing area where they prepare the works to be hung and keep over 200 artworks from their permanent collections! Both paintings and sculptures cover the interior of the hospital walls, they really transform and uplift the atmosphere of the hospital. My artworks have been placed in a sunny area next to the children’s ward, if you are passing by or near the area its worth a visit!
Decorating Ceramics The majority of the week was spent decorating ceramics. I have been experimenting with different ways to apply glaze. This method required me carving back into the glaze surface to create a raised texture.
Also, I applied a shiny glaze to my smaller ceramics to see how it would affect the sculpture. I felt the shiny finish distracted from the pattern and also made the ceramics look wet however, it both deepened and brightened the colours of the engobe. I used Instagram to gain further feedback which was incredibly helpful with 56 voting matte and 22 for shiny. Coming back after Christmas, I will start trying to find out how I can achieve a matte finish with vibrant colours!
The majority of this week has been spent preparing for the Milton Keynes exhibition. Due to this year being the first year of the fellowship, we have been struggling to get a license for Photoshop. However, this has been a blessing in disguise because I have found a free software called Gimp which has basic tools to edit images. Although the software is more long winded and quite difficult to get used to, it saves the cost of purchasing a license in the following year after the fellowship.
I decided to design and create a poster to promote the exhibition. I also created a small leaflet to go alongside the exhibition. This had some drawing and colouring exercises in there for the patients, staff and visitors, with information about the artist and purchasing artwork. I included drawing exercises as a tool to provide a moment of distraction away from problems and to promote the importance of mindfulness which can be achieved through drawing.
The prints themselves were printed at a family printing company, I try to source my materials locally to support smaller businesses. I was really happy with the product, they had a highly professional finish! The prints are now available to purchase through my website: https://emilyhett.co.uk/shop/limited-edition-prints/
To develop the sculptural form further, I began to explore new ways of constructing with clay. I made a mould to cast small circular forms from and began to attach them to the sculptural surface creating a new, playful dimension of depth to the aesthetic. Also, by attaching small feet to the base of one of the completed sculptures, brought the form to life, giving creature or animal-like characteristics.
Also as an exercise to think about new ways of constructing and to broaden my skill-set, I have begun to learn how to throw on the wheel. I think used correctly, this could be a good method to create multiple parts to attach onto the organic body. Using such a vastly different process than coil building, has taken me out of my comfort zone by restricting the form and enabled me to potentially add a satisfying symmetry in some elements of my work. Symmetry is one the aesthetics that can be used to create the effect of joy.
I helped out in group tutorials this week, it always amazes me the broad spectrum of interests that people are exploring across the course. I had an interesting question about my work which was ‘what happens if you come to the studio and you aren’t feeling happy, does your work change’. I know that some days I feel more motivated than others but I realised that my own personal well-being doesn’t affect the outcome of my work.
I have made some big decisions this week. After the Loughborough university degree show I decided that I wanted to increase the size of my sculptures and take it into the outdoor realm. After experimenting with jesmonite I have incurred problem after problem:
Material expense: The material is expensive. A liquid and powder needs to be combined to make the jesmonite mixture. After this, quadaxial glass netting needs to be dipped and placed on a carved polystyrene sculpture in three layers. Then the pattern needs to be applied onto the surface, this will require a slowing agent and coloured pigment so that the material doesn’t dry too fast. After being painted, a jesmonite acrylic sealer needs to be applied to protect the paint. Collectively, the materials are expensive. This restricts the experimenting able to be done with the material due to the prohibitive cost. It also makes the final sculptures high cost difficult to sell, especially this early within my professional practice.
Collective: I have found my sculptures only work as a collection and it is the abundance of multiple colours and forms which create the uplifting affect. This means I would need a collection of around 7 large sculptures to create the desired response in the viewer. Again cost is very prohibitive.
Sculpting polystyrene: I find this a difficult process as it is a reductive method of making. It is also a non-recyclable material and there is a lot of unavoidable excess waste when carving. It is also just a generally unpleasant material, it gets absolutely everywhere!
Storage: I need to bare in mind where the sculptures will be stored when the year programme has been completed. After the degree show, the sculptures I didn’t sell had to crammed into the shed where they are becoming damp and have been chipped in places. This is impractical long-term. However, due to the nature of the material (plaster and wire) they were relatively cheap to make so it was a lesson learnt. On the other hand, I don’t want to repeat those same mistakes and end up with a large collection of sculptures with no home.
To conclude, I don’t think going large scale is feasible this year as due to: material expense, the lack of storage after the programme and environmental impact of the non-recycable material.
New plan of action
I am going to refine my skills in clay and develop my sculptural forms. I have already began this week making moulds to create attachments for the sculptural surface. I have also been increasing the scale of the sculptures. I am also going to enlarge the collages, this is more affordable and they can be rolled up to store away. Working on a large scale will also hopefully help me free up my creative process.
I was really happy with the glaze colours, I have been trying to build glaze layers and colour schemes. I am definitely going to glaze them glossy as I am hoping the colour becomes more intense.
I have been trying to broaden my form knowledge this weekend looking at seeds, succulents and cacti. I have been using different methods to construct the forms and trying to explore new shapes and scale. I am looking forward to glazing these new sculptures.
Miniture sculptures are fired and out the kiln. I am really happy with the slip colours, they have made a smooth surface and are vivid in colour. I think I may apply a transparent glaze on a few and see if they are more successful when shiny!
Exploring affect through painting
The other half of the week I have been painting, creating artworks which use bold colour, pattern, accumulation, structure and a balance composition to investigate what overall affect this has.