Thursday, 12 November 2015

Prints Charming at NSDCC

I am teaching an introduction to screen printing class at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design

In the first weeks we explore the quality of line using a paper cut stencil as a resist for the screen. 

Paper cut stencil by Jennifer
And we explored the effects created when mixing colour whilst printing through the screen. 

Jennifer's paper cut stencil printing with two tones in using one screen.

Melissa experimenting with the positive and negative shapes cut from her stencil
The printed effect of using both the positive and negative cut out of the stencil

Anne working through her design.
The solid colour of the cutting board helps envision the final print.
Anne printing her design

Bethany's circular design stencil

Bethany's circular design printed using a combination of yellow and green ink.

As always, the results are incredibly exciting!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Earthenware Glaze Tests (low fire)

I have been experimenting with different low fire glazes. These glazes are for earthenware with a low firing temperature to cone 04. (1060 degrees Centigrade, or 1940 Fahrenheight)

This is partly because I have been working with found objects from the clay recycling room and these  shapes are usually made from earthenware, the clay utilised by the Introduction to Ceramics students in the studio.

I am interested in both glazes that run or form a drip, and surface texture. 

thickly applied Majolica (left) & Willing White (right) 

My first experiments were with thickly applied majolica and willing white. The test pieces were dipped 6 times and the glaze was about 1/2 centimetre thick. Whilst interesting, the results weren't quite what I was looking for.

Vardis blue over Power Black (left)
Power Black over Vardis blue (right)
Next, I experimented with double dipping of glazes, combining gloss finishes (such as power black) with textured finishes (Vardis blue).

Turquoise and Power black

It was also interesting to see how different glazes responded to being dipped first or second. Depending on this the resulting texture changed.

copper wire (left) steel wire (right)
with Vardis Blue

I then became interested in experimenting with layering different glazes combined with wrapping either copper or steel wire. 

Turquoise and Power black over steel (left)
Turquoise and Power black over copper (right)

Copper wire on bare earthenware (left)
Vardis Blue over steel (right)


Roxie Power Black - Cone 04

Frit 3134          25%
Frit 3195          15%
Frit 3249          35%
EPK                 25%
BIO                  8%
Mang. Diox     8%

Turquoise - Cone 04

Gherstly Borate  35%
Neph Sye            5%
EPK                    5%
Flint                  42%
Lithium Carb      8%
Super Copax       8%
Copper Carb       3%

Vardis Blue - Cone 04

Neph Sye          20%
EPK                  20%
Flint                  11%
Lithium Carb      5%
Barium Carb     43%
Copper Carb       7%

Willing White

Gerstley Borate   35%
Lithium Carb        8%
Neph Sye              5%
EPK                      5%
Flint                    42%
Zircopax              10%

Linda Arbuckle Maolica

Flint 3124          57.16%
EPK                     9.4%
Kona F4             14.9%
Bentonite             1.2%
Super Pax           13%
Neph Sye            5.42%
Rutile                 0.25%

Thursday, 29 October 2015

222 Grips for a Stone (27-35) Melting experiments

The exploration for 222 Grips for a Stone (or mineral) continues. 

I have been giving a lot of thought to the definition of a stone and mineral and it is becoming increasingly broader scope - which is great because I am continuing to find more ways to develop my material exploration.

Glass consists of minerals and I am interested exploring the effects it has when bound by wire and then placed in the kiln.


I started my explorations working in the enamelling kilns, and my first lot of experiments did not heat up enough. The kiln sat around 1500 degrees farenheight and the only result was a softening of the edges of the broken glass. Which was interesting, but not the effects I was looking for.

#28 of 222 Grips for a Stone before melting

#28 of 222 Grips for a Stone 

My next lot of experiments were undertaken in a different enamel kiln where the heat is stronger, and a little more unpredictable. The kiln heated to about 900 degrees centigrade and within minutes my glass was starting to melt. 

#30 of 222 Grips for a Stone detail

With the idea of griping the glass by wrapping it with wire, I was also interested in exploring the idea where the glass also starts to grip the wire, by melting the wire into the glass.

#31 of 222 Grips for a Stone

Ideally I would like to capture drips like rain water. This is as close as I have gotten so far. 

#33 of 222 Grips for a Stone

In this last experiment the glass almost entirely melted away from the wire binding and slumped onto the copper metal below. 

The experiments are taking my work in an exciting new direction and I am looking forward to upscaling so that they are about house brick size. 

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Odradek's Cousin?

I was riding along the street enjoying the Autumn sunny weather when suddenly I noticed an object in the street. Squashed, you could see the indents in the metal and the plastic which demonstrated how much force the object had experienced whilst lying on the road. 

Interestingly the red lipstick 'bled' from within the tube, and had smeared on the outside. How very human-like! I was immediately intrigued by the object, and delicately picked it up and carefully carried it back to my studio.

Squashed lipstick - could it be Odradek's cousin?

It got me thinking about 'things' which is a continuing internal dialogue I am experiencing at the moment, having been totally immersed in my theory class which is about the same topic - 'Things'.

Some of the heady questions we have been discussing lately are whether it is possible to kill a thing by naming it? And this made me think about how we personify objects.

There is an interesting short story written by Franz Kafka who wrote about Odradek - an object that defies description that lurks in the corridors of the home, an undefinable object that has been anthropomorphised and has been given the human qualities of talking, laughing, and lurking. Whilst it is not possible to define exactly who or what Odradek is, one possible interpretation is that Odradek represents any useless, harmless object that is kept around for no reason. 

In a sense my found object, the squashed lipstick, is a kindred spirit to Odradek who was found on the street and is currently lurking in my studio. Who knows what adventures it will get up to next? 

Despite its current form, it is likely that this object will outlive me.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Nova Scotia in the Fall

One of my good Australian friends came to visit me and it was a wonderful excuse to see some of the wondrous glory and gorgeous colours of Nova Scotia in the fall. 

We drove through the Annapolis Valley, an area known as the main breadbasket of the province, and it still produces most of Nova Scotia's fresh produce. It is renown for its delicious crisp apples, blossoms in spring and delightful colour with the changing of the leaves in the fall.

Bella Vista

Love the architecture of the barns

Beware of dancing deers 

More fabulous farm architecture 

Fall in North America is not complete without a pumpkin (squash)
 We drove through miles of picturesque scenery, winding through hills and passing wooden churches and ended the day chatting to a pumpkin farmer who was selling his wares on the side of the road.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Teachers Assistant: Introduction to Ceramics

As part of the MFA program at NSCAD I have the opportunity to be a Teachers Assistant. This is to observe and experience teaching in the classroom. 

The MFA program is geared towards teaching as an opportunity after graduation and there is also the opportunity to propose and teach your own course.

This semester I am the teachers assistant for the Introduction to Ceramics Class. The class is focusing on hand building and one of the first assignments was to build a wig of clay that would be large enough to fit the students head.

Below are some of the wigs before being fired to bisque firing (first firing). 

Some have been painted with coloured underglazes, which will remain that colour during the firing. 

The class is taught by internationally renown Neil ForrestNeil divides his time teaching in Nova Scotia and Scandinavia and specialises in large scale ceramics. He is particularly interested in the built environment and how ceramic sculptures interact with architecture.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

222 Grips for a Stone (22-26) Handles

Further musings on the found object which is continued from last week where I was pondering on the readymade which resulted in the assemblages below .....

#25 of 222 Grips for a Stone detail

#25 of 222 Grips for a Stone

The clay object in the image above bares marks of its function and use and traces of the lives who have handled it. Finger prints of unknown people have left their trace, embedded and imprinted on the earthenware clay. The latch too, shows traces of wear. Green discolouration on the brass suggests the age of the object because it has acquired a patina of time. The rusty water marks show that it has been exposed to the damp with other iron objects, and it possibly was immersed in water for a prolonged period for the rust marks to be transferred onto the brass. 

The objects have become endowed with interiority and a memory, things become stories of people, work and lives (Frow 273). 

These traces allude to the presence of absence. The finger prints point to an absence of the people who made, handled and shaped the clay. The patina on the latch suggests the once presence of water and dampness. Both contain a sense of geological and human time.  

#23 of 222 Grips for a Stone

#24 of 222 Grips for a Stone

#26 of 222 Grips for a Stone

Whilst the works in these images are not finished (the clay needs to be fired, the handles attached, and ideally I would like to suspend them from the ceiling)  it gives you the idea of what I am working on at the moment.

View from my studio

We have been experiencing some delightful autumn weather, and I captured the quintessential Haligonian view from my studio:  cruise ship, tug, and a transport carrier of some description.

Frow, J. A Pebble, a Camera, A Man Who Turns into a Telegraph Pole, Critical Inquiry Vol. 28, No. 1. Chicago: University of Chicago Journals, Autumn 2001)  


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