Monday, 29 December 2014


Let's take a step back from glazes. I need to create several indoor size sculptures and I'm thinking of geodesic dome as a starting point. First I thought of using a wooden mould,and I have to admit that I had lots of fun making it.

 But once made, I was not quite happy with it. I think that the triangles are too small.
So, back to the drawing board and change from 3v dome to 2v dome - it means less triangles for the same circumference.
Also, I have decided to make plaster mould rather than wooden one as it is more rigid.
With this size and shape mould, I will use paper plaster. It has many benefits - I don't need to use cottles, it uses significantly less plaster, which makes it lighter and it is very strong.

Here we go:
left: cardboard model, protected with sticky back plastic
middle & right: applying the "milk coat". Sometimes I make slipcasting moulds the same way so I am in the habit of applying thick "milk coat"

left: smoothing first layer of plaster
middle: finished first layer ("milk coat")
right: mixing second batch of plaster and adding paper pulp ( as soon as plaster has absorbed water)

left: paper plaster can be applied immediately - addition of  
paper makes it stiffer sooner so it holds it's shape
middle: checking that the bottom of the mould is level
right:bottom half of the mould is finished

left: top half is made the same way, except for the opening on the top
right: finished mould and model

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Test, test and test again                                                                                                             
Sometimes I think painters have it easy. They can mix the colours on a palette, test them on the edge of the paper and immediately know what they look like. I know, I'm (slightly) oversimplifying. For us, testing means starting from the raw ingredients, recipes and good set of scales, sieve and a dust mask. First set of tests are done on small tiles or bits of broken bisque fired shards and selected glazes are then tested on larger surfaces.
This is kind of tertiary testing.... I have sprayed Dry Plum glaze and Copper slip on some triangles and brushed or dipped the Crawl glaze on top. 



Diluted with more water and dipped:

I didn't like the combination of green and dirty pink, so decided to go with pink only. Another test firing.... We are getting closer now.... This one has got only a hint of pink on the ridge ( I have sprayed the Dry Plum glaze, and dipped Crawl):

Here I have brushed the Dry Plum glaze, and dipped Crawl:

And we have a winner.....
Just as well I like it, as I have glazed the full kiln load with the assumption that I would.

On the down side, about half of the bigger triangles in the kiln have cracked in the glaze firing. No idea why...

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

More about glazes                                                                                                             

  I find that clay people are quite polarized on the subject of glazes. Some love the chemistry, science and experimentation of glaze making, and others stay away from it as far as possible. Me, being the curious one, can happily spend weeks mixing and testing glazes just to see what happens,and documented tests are running into several thousands by now.
In my students days I got interested in superimposing glazes ( applying one on top of another). Most literature at the time ( and I'm not sure if that has changed) implied that if you understand the chemical composition of the glaze you can predict the way it looks. Well, that is an extent. There are many more variables, which make it interesting, and ( just the touch) unpredictable... If the chemical composition of the materials was the only relevant data, you would expect that a piece with glaze "A" on top of glaze "B" looks the same as glaze "B" on top of glaze "A". After all, it all melts together. I was quite thrilled to discover that they can look quite distinctly different and thus the testing monster was created.

Couple of years ago I used a bubbly glaze on the "Gateway 21". The effect was created by applying a Crawl glaze on top of the Crater ( or Lava) glaze that I tested years ago:                                                                                                                                                   

I tried to recreate it last year for the "Shape of Thought", but something has changed and the result was quite different. Is the change in supplier of one of the ingredients the culprit? (That is why some of the glaze recipes don't travel well between the continents).
I thought that I should give it another go, with the same disappointing results.

First tile is original Crater glaze with crawl glaze on top. Second tile is Crater glaze with additional 4% of Silicon Carbide, and third tile is new Crater glaze with Crawl glaze on top. Yes, more bubbly, but very different from the original. 

Crater glaze generally contains Silicon Carbide, and crawl glaze "secret ingredient" is light Magnesium Carbonate. I have not come across glaze that combines both materials together, so I thought to give it a go:

Andrea's Fizz glaze:
Magnesium Carbonate light  25%
Nepheline Syenite                 66%
Ball Clay                                  5%
Silicon Carbide                        4%

Result is on top right, with "Fizz" on top of various dry glazes and slips on the other 3 tiles:

Here are the close ups of tests with 2 different Crawl glazes on top of the same dry glazes. I have not tested the Crawl 1 by itself as that is the glaze used on "Shape of Thought". 

I really like the lichen effect of this glaze. One of my favourites!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Glaze tests                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
As the number of triangles grows and invades the studio,my mind is turning to glaze choices. I am limited by my description in the brief stating that the sculpture will be white and off white - too late to change my mind now, even if I wanted to.
My plan is to have coloured underglaze and white textural glaze on top.

Here are the first tests before the firing:

and after the firing:

This one looks nice:

I also tested them on the spare triangles:

And I have narrowed them down to these two:

 Which one will be the winner? Wet or dry version of the crawl glaze?? Green or pink background? Or both?

Monday, 1 December 2014

The mould turned out well, and so the making has begun:

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Just as I would not name a baby before it is born, I usually don't name my work before it is finished. The reasons are simple ( in the case of my work, not necessarily applicable to babies): during the making process I like to leave the options open for the piece to evolve and change. Sometimes the piece doesn't change much, but my understanding of it does as I research, think about it and make it...and therefore the name reflects that new perspective and understanding.
This sculpture is different. 
It started its virtual existence as a proposal to the Sculpture by the Sea 2015 at Cottesloe, Perth. The proposal had to be very detailed and include concept drawings, sizes, colours, weight and the title, among the other things.
To my absolute delight and amazement the proposal has been accepted, subject to safety requirements.
The letter I have received stating the deadlines has given me a gentle push in the right direction.... And so the making has begun. 
Oh, you would like to know the name? I'm not sure I should tell you, after all, it has not been made yet ( yes, I almost said "born")
well, all right...
It is called:

Intuitive Sense of Connection
As usual, you will be able to follow its progress here, and I hope that you get to see it at Cottesloe next year.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Mould making                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
I have been absent for a while, recharging my batteries in New Zealand. It was my first visit and I think I'm in love...everything was so green and beautiful. My inspiration folder is full of images of rocks, plants and  textures.
But now that I am back in the studio, it's time to begin prototyping new triangular modules.
I have done the maths, drawn the triangles the size I want to make them and cut them out of the stiff paper. I have found out that the good quality watercolour paper works well for this purpose as it can withstand getting wet on clay multiple times.
My husband made interlocking wooden frames, already cut on the 7 degrees angle so my clay triangle will be larger on the top and smaller on the bottom:

At first I thought that I will hand-build each triangle within the frame

but when I realized that making the first one took close to 2 hours I decided to make a plaster mould.
I also decided to keep wooden frame as part of the mould as it takes care nicely of the 7 degrees angle which would create undercut in a one piece plaster mould.
This is the "lazy mould maker's" way of making the framework for pouring plaster:

the walls are made of polystyrene held in place with bricks, and clay. It is quite flimsy, but it works because I pour plaster into the mould just before it sets, so it is not very liquid and it stiffens within couple of minutes - not leaving it lots of tome to seep through the seams.

And here it is, plaster poured. It will be ready for removal of framework in an hour or so...

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Options, alternatives and preferences                                                                                                                            

For aesthetic purposes, I favour "Y"  shape for the steel frame. It will be possibly more difficult to construct than "T" shape ( more welding), but it's symmetry makes a good base for the ceramic triangle.

Ah, the is in the coming up with many options....

and than choosing the right one....

This is approximately what it would look like:

Maybe I should make it slightly larger than the last one.....

Friday, 3 October 2014

New challenge                                                                                                                            

Here & Now 14 has ended and Shape of Thought has been taken apart to transport back to the studio.
For some time now I have been pondering how to improve the design, and the obvious conclusion is to replace the brackets with the sturdier, welded construction.
I have even done a welding for sculptors workshop in anticipation of the next challenge.

The next sculpture will be based on the geodesic dome again...I feel that I have just started exploring the structure and I still have a long way to go. Well, at least this time the starting point is a bit further down the path, in comparison to the Shape of Thought. 
I need to begin by considering the welded frame first, as that will influence the shape of ceramic triangles.

First, let's look at the geodesic sphere again:

What is not immediately obvious is the angle between the 2 triangles, and that angle complicates my construction. It is a bit clearer on those drawings:

If I decided to make a typical geodesic dome framework (which follows the edge of the triangle lines), using the metal flats instead of rods so that I can attach ceramic pieces to them, I would have to weld ( or bend) each flat to have the angle shown on the lower drawing (left).
Bending would be impossible on the lengths I require, and welding impractical.

On the Shape of thought, if you remember, I have used brackets instead. It looked good, but did not provide any structural strength:

This time, the idea is to use steel flats instead of brackets, welded together into some sort of a net, to which I will be able to bolt ceramic pieces in similar fashion to the work on the photo.
Instead of scanning pages and pages of sketches to illustrate the thinking process, I will present you with the 3 finalists:

 Let's see what they look like connected together. Black lines represent steel flats:

Which one is the best for my purpose?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Architecture of Time                                                                                                                             

Architecture of Time is a direct response to the theme duality. It explores the notion of duality as defining outermost aspects of the same reality, not in order to divide, but to understand its parameters and interconnections. It plays with common symbols of duality (positive and negative space, light and shadow) to create narrative.

“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole”
― C.G. Jung

Making process:

You can see Architecture of Time among other artworks by SOUP responding to the theme of duality. I hope to see you there: