So 10am tomorrow morning is the deadline, so I've been very busy finishing things off. Last evening was spent turning my thumbnail photos, of the work, stage by stage into a record of my progress in my sketchbook, annotating as i went. It was quite a satisfying process and it made me reallies just how much work I've done, and how much i have learnt.
Yesterday I worked on my case study illustrating the process of planning and running an art workshop for primary school children. I had thought I would be a big task but it turned out to be quite a straightforward process once i got to grips with it and was shown some example's of layouts. Today I spent the majority of my time fleshing it out the text with the information I had collected and adding the photos that accompanied the work, as well as working out the layout so that it showed logical progression throughout the project.
The next job was compiling my portfolio which was far simpler this time round compared to the last project where I had hundreds of fabric samples to mount up. This time it was as straight forward as deciding on the order of the photos including my various ceramic vessels, tiles and the mock ups of my surface patterns put into context as gift wrapping cards and tags.
I had collected a large amount of research and have complied it into a document at the end of my folio. As usual the amount of research i actually did was far larger than what i was able to present but I was unable to print a record of everything I looked at - as you can see from this blog.
Final thoughts- I have relished the chance to try a different media in working with ceramics. It was not what i expected to be doing at the start of the project, i had expected to use textiles as in my last work but the project developed natural into this area due to the subject matter I was researching, namely ceramic tea and coffee cups and saucers and pots this developed into a new thirst for knowledge as i had previously had very little to do with the area. After a short time it seemed only natural that i would follow through this research beyond simply decorating a ceramic surface but to form the ceramic body itself.
I set myself a short one week deadline to get to grips with the clay and if it did not go well quickly enough i would have to revert to my first plan. However i was surprised to find that I loved the processes involved. I noticed similarities to my previous knowledge of jewellery making, forming and finishing metal. Also the tactile and technical likeness to the process of baking.
I am keen to continue in my journey beyond this project and hope some to develop into the area of jewellery making once again. This time combining my knowledge of precious metals and developing area of ceramics. I would like to investigate the properties of porcelain both within slip casting and throwing and also to try hand building. I have never before worked with precious metal clay but this seems a very interesting combination between ceramics and precious metals together, borrowing each others techniques. I would also like to develop my understanding and experimentation with ceramic glazes and decorative techniques.
This project has made me look at the viability of my work in the market place and i have come to the realisation due to others positive responses and my own discoveries during working, that my decorated tiles are worth moving on further into the marketplace perhaps to be sold on Folksy.com or at craft fairs. They are quick, easy and enjoyable to make and i hope that they would sell well in the contemporary craft market place.
Its deadlines eve's eve after a stressful day of mixed results I am feeling more positive now. I have spent some time reflecting on the results of this project and what i am trying to achieve on the whole. Due to my personal circumstances being financially stretched so thin my money is now transparent. I have been thinking about my work as a business what would sell my competitors the ides which could perhaps generate some well earned cash to help fund my next projects. It occurred to me that if i was able to stockpile more tiles and decals i could quite happily while away the hours of the evening in front of the TV creating decorated tiles for use as wall art coasters or decorative wall tiles. I had already had a very positive response from those around me on my first batch and its fair to say that the second decal batch were experiencing teething problems.
Back to Mondays findings to explain further. I knew something must be up as Mr V had come to find me in the studio. It turned out that far from firing perfectly as i had expected my tiles to do at the lower temp i set on Friday. The tiles again came out with very patchy burnt out decals, not completely i must add, and i don't entirely dislike the effect, it was just not as i had expected to find them. I had a long conversation with Mr v and he supposed that it was my method of application which had cause the problem, and it is true to say that i did experience a little trouble smoothing out the decals as i applied them and did not as Mr v has since suggested I use a rubber kidney to smooth out any air and water bubbles. I thought i had applied them at all times the same as the first successful experiments with the vintage decals. after taking further i suggested it might be the tile surface which was the culprit although the decals that id had printed did appear to be less sticky than the others id used before.
These problems together have lead me to think that i should perhaps produce the tiles if i intend to sell them on either manufactured tiles where the accurate decals were necessary and using a kidney to ensure a good application. Or if the hand made approach was necessary to try spray the glaze to achieve a more even finish along with insuring the tile surface underneath is as smooth as possible.
I need to remember that it is perfectly acceptable to produce work on either bought white ware or blank white tiles i would just have to adjust the selling price accordingly.
The other main learning point of the day was that Monday was photo shoot day !
Exciting but nerve wracking as i have only ever really used my own camera in natural light situations. The closes I've ever come to the studio in terms of my own work was being Abbeys assistant during the breastfeeding brief photo shoot where i was please to be able to provide some creative input.
I have just realised i have told a small fib here as i did have a quick couple of shots o the light table on Friday under the supervision of Tom who i had not spoken to much but have found him to be very patient and helpful. To be fair i did actually get some great shots in that very quick session.
Mondays shoot was very enjoyable I learnt a lot very quickly through trial and error mainly, i had not realised how sensitive the different objects were to the lighting settings, i was constantly fiddling with e settings to adapt to the different shapes and sizes as well as angles of each photo. The time i had went very fast and i did intend to continue taking more later in the day if there had been time-which there wasn't in the end.
I have forgotten to mention that i sent Sunday night putting into practice what Cheryl had suggested putting my surface pattern designs done made in Photoshop into context. Therefore i decide to use the print offs to make gift wrap demonstrated by wrapping up boxes. Also some gift tags and cards, it proved to a very successful use of my time and i was please with the results on the whole but i would had i had more time have perhaps planned them out slightly more accurately or even if i was to productive them for sale i would consider having them printed professional if they proved cost effective perhaps similar on price to postcards.
Thursday is fast approaching and I can hardly believe it. It still seems there is so much to do and, as is so often the way, now right at the last minute is when I get loads more ideas and have to stop myself from going off on yet another tangent !
A word on this blog, as you can tell these last posts have really been more of a journal and I now have a dedicated page for this on the blog. However I am waiting until the next project arrives to start it so until then this is where my thoughts will reside.
As I thought I would, I do enjoy blogging, it took me long enough to start. As ever I think up every scenario possible when considering doing something and often talk myself out of actually doing it. This time however I went for it and I'm glad I did! As you can tell I'm very new at it so this all looks a bit basic and is not working quite how I imagined yet. You will also be able to tell that spelling is not my strong point and I hope you will forgive me for that.
Back to the subject in hand, my works progression to date. Practical wise I am pretty on top of my game. Learning the pros and cons of ceramics in terms of timing and planning has been a sharp learning curve but an altogether enjoyable one. The more I learn and discover through my experiments, the more I want to learn. I am finding my way through and developing at the same time a style and prefernce for materials and techniques as I go.
I digress, the work is in order, many samples, although I like to think of them as finished one off pieces, are made and the last in the kiln. That is the tiles which i applied the decals to on Friday. I was happy to be surrounded by other students form the current prelim course so I could get some instant feedback on what I was producing. They seemed positive and I was quite happy although very time conscious thorough as I was also on a tight personal deadline to get home to my family as this was not a usual college day. That said I got a good batch of them done and into the small kiln to be fired up to 750 c, cooler that the last firing which went slightly wrong. I even stacked and set the kiln off myself as Mr V had shown me, which was an exciting privilege but a necessary one as he had left for the day by then, and I needed to learn. I would say it was easy, but then I've not seen the results yet so don't wast to tempt fait !
Todays exploration has proved that adding glaze to everything certainly does not always work and is not always necessary. My greenery impressed tiles are now out of the kiln and are looking interesting (no photos as yet) As id never tryed oxides before I got carried away with the process and transparent glazed all the tiles after applying copper to give a green acent and manganese for black/brown. I should on reflection have left some plain to show experimentation with texture also the oxides may have fired slightly differntly.
The other plain tiles on the other hand have now been put back in the kiln for a lower firing to fuse the decals I applyed today, which should be ready for Mondays photoshoot. I went for a freestyle approach letting the designs develop as I collaged them or simply laying decals as id printed them on some. The glaze on the tiles had turned out ok evening the textured surface of the tile while still retaining a subtle hint of the cloth texture underneath. Some were better than others in uniformity I think this is an area I need to work on.
One happy accident which occured directly as a result of using a shared studio/workshop space is that some of the tiles have a faint disscolouration to them from small particals of dryed clay on the cloth I worked them on in their raw clay state. I have since been thinking a lot about investigating the qualities of porcelain and adding colour to it in a similar was to this happy accident is something id like to explore.
I was pleased to find my work had been fired to day, but that was short lived when I found out that the glaze had dramatical changed for the worse. My investigation into ceramic's has been a very eventfull one so far and the frustrations of he disipline have become apparent fairly quickly. Waiting for the kiln to be fired the unknown of glazes, and now the decals unpredictability. I had been very happy with the stoneware glazes particularly on my thrown vessels. I had after a lot of considderstion decided to add decals onto the glazed ware. Unfortunatedly I had not considdered the effect further exposure to heat would have on the glaze. It totaly lost the subtlety of colour and the decals became virtualy invisable on top of the darkened glaze.
I am rapidly going off the techneque of applying decals at the moment, but im sure with a bit of practice and more knowlege of their limitations and benefits I will find a way of using them effetively. I think that on the right ware with the right underglaze I will get the effects I was imagining in the first instance. For now though I would like to investigate a more organic spontainious approach to ceramic decoration that fits in with my connection to the clay while throwing. I am looking forward to trying out my porceline clay samples to see the difference in texture to the AWS clay body I have already used, and also how this new body behaves in general.
I am now discovering the frustration of shared useage of a kiln! I spent a morning during half term industriously glazing my remaining work including a large batch of tiles. However yesterday they still remained the only ware in the kiln at college, and so are just waiting until the kiln is filled to be fired.
The project deadline they are for is looming large on the horizon, so I think a bit of sweet talking might be in order to hurry things along with the ever helpful Mr V.