Saturday, 20 August 2016

Clay Summer School 2016 - Commemorating in Clay with Steve Dixon



Artist Steve Dixon guided us through an amazing week of clay and commemoration at the wonderful Spode Works organised by the British Ceramics Biennial. The course was an introduction to hand building, mould making, transfer printing and raku. We were asked to think and develop ideas about ceramics as a carrier for commemoration, memory, history both personal and public. You can see my hand built disaster vessel hiding in the middle of the kiln. It went through many stages of ugliness with brief moments of beauty (bit like me really) but at the end of the day remained a pigs ear rather than a silk purse. It was however an excellent reminder of just what magicians and alchemists real ceramicists are! The thing I regret most is not understanding how the oxides and glazes would react and change, I did make one beautiful sample where oxide and glaze met, married and lived happily ever after, but alas it was just a sample. I also remembered, yet again, just how clumsy and lacking in finesse I am when learning something new, and this was all relatively new to me.




Artist In Residence - Jo Ayre


I had a bit more joy the simple mould making and I'm am very glad to have the basic principles in my head now. I chose a salt spoon and a shell, both objects were very thin, both objects had meaning for me and the process has given me lots to consider. 



We were also able to sneak in a little clay monoprinting during Neil Brownsword's course and I would love to experiment more with the process. I know that the platter will come out of the kiln in two pieces but I don't really mind. I am curious to know what the colours will be like, so how can I get back to Stoke and try some more?


I absolutely loved Steve's method of simple transfer printing, I know that making pots is not my forte but using vessels as a surface to draw and paint on really sings to me. I've had a few tantalising experiences so far, should I, could I, will I be able to take this any further?


The prints were black before firing 


but turned sepia after firing. 

Our test tiles all worked beautifully but the other objects I decorated were strangely inconsistent, some images on one side were strong but on the other almost invisible. 


However a few of the tiny cups and plates 


survived well enough to become part of 




Everything about the week was quite magical, great tutors, inspiring space, lovely people, delicious food. Thank you BCB, it was all just a bit wonderful!

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