Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Funky Finds

I found these innovative pieces on the web that appeals to my sense of humor:

Wyatt Little designed this piggy bank in the shape of a cross. Called 'Jesus Saves', it has a corkscrew piggy tail in the back. Little says, “If there is one thing everyone can agree on, its that churches are very good at raising and making money.”

Mike Mak designed these dumbbell shaped money box called 'Mo ney is Power'. The more money you put in this dumbbell, the more power you have to lift it up.

The next test results

Since my last disaster I decided to do a more extensive test this time. The first firing was to 1025*C and I used the basic principle of 50% clay and 50% glassformers, with 6%body stain mixed in to firstly see the reaction of colour in the body and secondly to distinguish the tests from one another. Here are the results:

  • A - Same body as my first test. I found the surface satisfactory, colour development was good and so the vitrification. On the downside the bead slumped in the firing and the hole was closed totally. Bead stuck slightly to test tile.

  • B - Standard glaze flux(1) . Body still very porous and colour underdeveloped. Will retest at higher temperature.

  • C - Standard glaze flux(2) . Body still very porous and colour underdeveloped. Will retest at higher temperature.

  • D - Flux used in glassmaking. Body set rockhard before drying. Surface rough and scum formed opaque layer on surface. Bead stuck to test tile. Colour development good.

  • E - Flux used in glassmaking, as above but 20%. Body set rockhard before drying. Surface rough and scum formed opaque layer on surface. Bead stuck to test tile. Colour development good.

  • F - Lucie Rie Bronze slip. Body very short, but otherwise interesting. Slightly vitrified  and nice surface. On the downside it can only be this one coolur. I will refire at a higher temperature to investigate results.

The tests were an interesting learning curve and have motivated me to take the experiments further, I will keep you posted.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Learning from my Mistakes

Every great artist will admit that somewhere in their search for perfection they did make mistakes. The secret is not to dwell on it, but to learn and conquer.

During a recent project teaching people skills, I decided to develop a new clay body that will simplify the process. I wanted something that can be once fired, with colour included in the body and that would eliminate the glaze process, but still give the necessary sheen. I tried researching Soft Paste Porcelain, but could not track down much information, let alone any recipes. 

The next option I thought about was Egyptian paste. Looking at the drawbacks of making, handling and firing, I quickly dismissed the idea. Working with unskilled people with not a very high level of education, the attempt would have been too frustrating for me and them to turn it into a viable option.

The next thing I came across was something used in the 19th century to simulate marble, mostly used for figurines. I came across a recipe in an old book I found at a flea market many years ago, and decided to give it a try.

Working with the first test batch was very interesting. Although the body was very short, it had great green strength, which was definitely a plus point. I need to add something to increase the plasticity. During the firing process it dawned on me that with the high amount of fluxes, the temperature of 1150*C would be too high. The photograph at the top is the result, everything melted down and bloated totally. I am doing more test firings at lower temperatures, but will also experiment with other fluxes to come up with the perfect solution.

The next mistake I encountered was using platinum luster on an unglazed surface fired to a high temperature. What I envisaged as a bright matt silver colour, turned out to be a rather muted grey. Although not totally wasted,  I will not go this route again. The colour would be much better obtained from slips and engobes, as the price of the luster is too expensive to make it commercially viable.

So its back to the drawing board for me, even the smallest mundane pieces can stimulate your creativity, and hopefully great things will come from this

Friday, April 8, 2011

Trash Chic

What to do with your clay trimmings when you make your masterpieces? Instead of dumping it in the reclaim bin, (which is in most cases just a politically correct name in many studios, as it is a lot more convenient to buy a new bag of clay than slogging over the bin trying to reclaim the scraps) unskilled people are shown how to form it into these simple organic shapes.

Decoration comes from a pile of unused decals that clutter up another part of the studio. Larger motifs are treated as pieces of fabric that is cut when making a garment instead of trying to feature a realistic image. The effect is quite abstract and whimsical. Words and letters are cut up and reassembled to represent typeface, but please don’t try to attempt constructing a logical sentence from it.

These ‘Pretty Pebbles’ find their way onto leather, suede and organza, accentuated with a decorative bead, as an adorable funky piece of jewellery made from discarded materials. Judging from a few that survived having been accidentally dropped onto a concrete floor, they are very durable too!

If you just have to have one for yourself or if you want to stock a few in your store, contact Deon on +27(0)72 134 9613

Friday, April 1, 2011

Have a Heart

When I was invited to exhibit at the ʻOut of the Boxʼ Art Fair Extraordinaire, I decided to make a few heart shaped items for the occasion. With the proceeds of the fair going to the ʻOut of the Boxʼ Skills Development Centre, I decided the shape would be appropriate. The centre provide training to unemployed people to acquire basic craft skills in order for them to make items to sell as a way of sustaining themselves.

Why red? Suitably it is the colour of blood which pump through our hearts without which life would be impossible. Please support the artists exhibiting, proceeds go to a very worthy cause.

Art Fair Extraordinaire
Friday 1 April to Sunday 3 April
10H00 to 14H00 daily
305 Long Avenue
Enquiries: Nina 083 583 5383