Thursday, 14 September 2017

Let’s talk about glazes…

 I love the science, mystery and complexity of glazes, and occasionally I teach the ‘Understanding Glazes” course. Some of the students that come to the course are disappointed at the lack of straight answers and quick fixes, and others get mesmerized by the unlimited possibilities. Mostly, I teach Glaze technology as a cooking class. And it makes sense. There are limited number of ingredients, some of them local, you mix them together in various proportions and heat them to the various temperatures. The “mystery and magic” of transformation of raw ingredients into the glassy surfaces comes from unfamiliarity. Most of us can name at least 5 different foods made from eggs, fat, water and wheat flour in different ratios. (pancakes, bread, pasta, dumplings, profiteroles, omelette, scrambled eggs, egg sandwich, pastry, basic mayonnaise, custard……). What happens if I expand it to “any flour” instead of “wheat flour”? What if we allow “additives” (spices, sweeteners, flavours)?
Yes, very soon we can say that the possibilities are almost limitless.
So, why don’t we see the “magic” in making an omelette the same way we do when we mix glazes?
For most of us it is about familiarity. If we were exposed to glaze materials as often and from as young age as we are to cooking, we would be just as comfortable with mixing a glaze as we are with scrambling eggs for breakfast.
There is another thing, and that is that we (humans) prefer simple answers, even to the complex questions.
We have so much going on in our lives…most of the time we can’t really cope even with the full scope of the sensory input available (smells, sounds, visual stimuli, movement…) let alone more complex matters (relationships, complex problem solving…) so our brains shut down the flood gates in front of the complexity and only open the little doors: just give me the simple answer I can trust and don’t have to think too much about it.
Yet, on the other hand, we (humans) fully accept and understand that some questions don’t have simple answers.
And that brings me to the new idea. The next step from the “cooking class” in understanding glazes is the “psychology class”.
It is a big jump, but bear with me for a while.
Psychology, in simplified terms, is mostly about the relationships. It is also something that although only a few of us study, most of us are familiar enough with to understand that there are no simple answers to some (in terms of psychology, I dare say most) questions.
How do I find the perfect partner?
(most of the mature adults will only smile )
How do I make the grey speckle glaze that looks like this:….?
(the answer is the same as to the question above: you won’t know until you test it)

And here are two images which prompted this philosophical tirade:

The glazes on the images are the same, applied in the same manner, fired on the same kiln shelf. The only difference is the clay body. Both are white stoneware.
One variable that we don’t even take in serious consideration most of the time, as long as it is the same general type…

Thursday, 29 June 2017

In the last 5 months

A lot has been happening since I talked to you last:

“Shuffle”;  the video work  by Pilar Mata Dupoint, commissioned by Transport for New South Wales was shown at wynscreen ( 20 m wide screen at one of Sydney's inner city train stations) for almost 6 weeks. 

Unfortunately I didn’t get to see it, but it was really exciting to be involved in the project. Here are few "work in progress" images

In the Grain of Sand was shown at the Sculpture by the Sea in Cottesloe. 
Here is wonderful image by Jessica Wyld

Maybe you are fast enough to spot it in the video:

And the new sculpture: Seed of Tomorrow was created and shown in Mandurah. 

 I will tell you more about it in the next post. 
As you can see it was really busy time.Too busy to tell you about it at the time. It is kind of nice to sit back now and reflect, sort, contemplate and hibernate a little. ( It is "winter" in Australia).

Monday, 26 June 2017

Enrolments are open for next term courses

Next term I will be teaching day and evening classes: Explore Ceramic  in Nedlands, and Understanding Glazes in Fremantle. Click on the image for more information.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Malformed and Decayed

I'm having a lot of fun with this project, yet every time I attempt to talk or write about it I stumble for words. I don't know where to start or what to say. As I mentioned in a previous post, the brief is to make objects that are reminiscent of Victorian European ceramic, yet decayed and malformed. Bruised, distorted,misshapen, rot, peeling skin, are some of the referencing descriptive words. 

Well, most of the work is finished, glazed and fired, yet I am reluctant to let it go. I am confused with it. I am fascinated by the turmoil they are creating in my thoughts.I created them and I am attracted and repulsed by them at the same time. I feel as if I'm staring at someones misshapen and scared face, knowing that it is rude, yet unable to stop. (and I have created them!!)

I can't even photograph them properly. They are challenging me on so many levels!
So, here we go, a selection of unedited images. And I would love to hear your thoughts:


Sunday, 1 January 2017


I do like welding the frame, the skeleton of the sculpture. It is hot and exhausting, and at this stage I have no Idea if all the pieces will fit together..

So far so good. This one is coming together smoothly, but based on the previous experiences I'm bracing myself for glitches.
 Last few welds

 And then it is DONE!! I like the neat base.when it's turned sideways I can walk in, which will come handy when it comes to painting the frame. 

 Finding the photogenic position in the garden for the trial assembly and the photo-shoot.

Oh, and I still need to make the last thirty tiles, fire them twice, and paint the frame with cold galv. and 3 layers of anti-corrosive enamel.
But for now, I will grab a glass of vine and just sit here for a while and enjoy the view.