I have always wanted a home studio and with no studio access due to Covid and lots of time on my hands, it was the perfect opportunity to start converting. The shed is a cosy 2m x 2.5m so I needed to be efficient with the space. There is a lot of equipment, materials and space required to store, make and recycle clay, so it was a matter of trying to put a system in place which could work!
After clearing out the shed I set about cleaning and painting the interior. The white made such a difference, it made the space look so much bigger and brighter, which is so important when it’s a dull day!
I wanted a shelving area where I could store my glazes and finished pieces. And I also needed somewhere to keep drying pieces and works that were ready to be bisque fired. We had an old wardrobe in the garage which the previous owner had left and which was a dull cream, so I set about up-cycling that! We also had an old tie rack that wasn’t being used so I cut down the panels to make some shelves. It was great as the majority of the materials which were used were old repurposed wood!
Despite the white wall the floor was really still very dark. When working with clay, everything has to be wet-washed so the dust doesn’t end up in the air, and I didn’t want the wooden floor getting damp. I found some vinyl which I felt really complimented the space and which would be easy to mop and clean. The pattern was really busy as well so I could get away with it being a bit dirty but not looking too messy!
I needed a sturdy table for hand building and glazing, but I wanted one that also folded away so that if I needed to work on a large sculpture, I wasn’t restricted by space! I found a really solid, Lifetime table which has been perfect…I can also take it outside on sunny days!
It took me about a week to complete and that included waiting for some materials as well! Since completing it I have barely left! Its so convenient to be able to make or quickly finish the work at any time of the day (I can also get a snack and cup of tea whenever I want which is delightful but dangerous). I shall post another up-to date photo in another blog soon as this picture was taken just after I had completed it…when it was cleaner, tidier and comparatively emptier!
This has been by far the busiest week since starting the ABF programme, with the fellowship review on Thursday, the CVAN takeover Monday – Saturday and lectures to the third year students…it has been non-stop! It was great to put the sculptures and paintings into a gallery setting and give the work space to be observed individually. The experience made me aware of how the ‘multiplicity’ aesthetic is incredibly poignant to my work as I felt due to the vastness of the space, there was an unwelcoming spareness within the installation set-up. It also really told a story of both how myself and Grace have developed over the last 6 months! For myself I feel I have really developed my ceramic process, skills and glaze knowledge, I hope the next 6 months brings lots more development!
The lecture to the third years went well! It felt quite strange talking about my own practice for half an hour, I had the worlds driest mouth by the end of it! We had a lot of positive feedback though and I will be giving the same lecture to the first years next week!
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.
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!