Thursday, 29 August 2013

Exhibition: Traversing Frontiers .. four days til set up

Its the final count down with only four days to go til we set up our exhibition Traversing Frontiers at the Mary E Black gallery.

And my work is starting to come together. Exciting! Below are some images of some of the work that will be on show in the exhibition.

Ceramic spoons, with decals and  wooden handles

Detail: decal drawing of the interior of Green Gables

I also fired the kiln by myself for the first time on Wednesday eve. I am generally used to programmable electric kilns, so it was a new experience for me to sit with the kiln and manually increase the temperature. 

I used two different majolica glazes. Thankfully I got some great results.

Quaker Kitchen House - Majolica glaze

I have also found some time to play in the studio and work through some other ideas that are not specifically related to the exhibition. Below are some images of my favourite buildings in downtown Halifax on Barrington Street.

This is my most favourite building

It has little round windows in the turret

The Kyber Building

Friday, 23 August 2013

Studio Magic

With about a week to go before the installation of the exhibition Traversing Frontiers things are hotting up in the studio.
working from my sketchbook

Set up to take images for the catalogue

working through presentation ideas for my spoons
Detail of etched serving spoon

Experimenting with decals on vintage plates

Making the most of the sunshine!
Embroidery in the park

Nature v's Nurture
Experiments with silver and copper

Majolica paintings ready for the kiln 

Watch this space. By this time next week everything should be finished. Fingers crossed the majolica firing will be successful. 


Friday, 16 August 2013

The countdown begins

Its hard to believe that there are less than three weeks to go 'til we have to have our work finished and displayed in the gallery.

This week the ten participating artists met to discuss the name of our show. After about an hour of brain storming we decided upon Traversing Boundaries which we felt described our experience over the past couple of months with the ability to explore our ideas and share techniques in the different workshops.

It was also the deadline to have an image and artist statement for the catalogue. So the image below is a detailed shot of my etched silver spoons with domestic scenes from the Quaker House in Dartmouth.

Etched silver spoons
Meanwhile my work is progressing with more experiments with the ceramic and wooden spoons - and I am continuing to read about the history and experience of pioneer women in Nova Scotia. I have stumbled across two authors Catharine Parr Traill and Susanna Moodie, two sisters who emigrated from England to upper Canada in the early 1800's. They wrote about their experiences and the hardships they endured in the Backwoods including Roughing it in the Bush and The Canadian Settler's Guide, a book full of practical information from cooking, growing food, luggage to bring with you, how to make candles and other household goods through to how to chop wood to build a house. It's fascinating reading.

Wild flowers and old mining cottages

Rural scene of Cape Breton

And I had the chance to explore some of Cape Breton, a gorgeous island of forest, coastal mountains, ocean views, hiking trails with a mix of Celtic and Acadian culture, and of course interesting architecture only four hours north of Halifax

Thursday, 8 August 2013

In the studio - more test pieces

This week in the studio I experimented with a majolica glaze.

Hard at work in the studio
I had decided to try this glaze because of the similarities of creating blue on white imagery with low fire earthenware compared with the high fire porcelain that I work with in Australia. I just love blue and white ceramics.
some spoons with majolica before the glaze firing
 So I very carefully painted a number of scenes I had sketched from the Quaker House in Dartmouth.

And the results were a little unexpected - as you can see in the before and after images below.

kitchen chair before glaze firing

kitchen chair after glaze firing 
kitchen cupboard pre-fire
kitchen cupboard after glaze firing 
Kitchen fireplace pre-fire
Kitchen fireplace after glaze firing 

Kitchen scene pre-fire
Kitchen scene after glaze firing 
So I think what caused the cracking of the ceramics was the thickness of the glaze - next time I will try it a little thinner. This may also have been the cause for why the images ran. 

Although the results were not what I was hoping for, I really like the watery quality of the images and I will continue to experiment with positioning the spoons at different angles in the kiln to accentuate this. However I would also like to achieve some blue on white scenes which do not have the marbled/watery effect. I have been told that there is another majolica glaze that I should also try - I will also test that one out too.

I have had a little more success etching silver spoons.
Silver spoon before etching 
Silver spoon after etching 
I am really excited by the concept of etching silver cutlery and I will continue to explore creating imagery in this way. There is an excellent tutorial online that demonstrates the steps of how to do this.

Creating wood block 
I have also started working with carving imagery onto woodblocks and printing the imagery using the Japanese technique of using water colours or gauche to print the image. This is really exciting as I learnt this method whilst I was living in London, and haven't had the time since to explore this method of printing.

This week all 10 artists got together to present their progress to date. It is really interesting to see how everyone is working and the beautiful things that are being created. We are starting to count down to the exhibition.... theres only 24 days to go!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Nova Scotia Test Pieces

This week we fired the kiln at the studio and it was great to see the results that emerged. Some ideas didnt work as well as others and although I tried a myriad of things, I cant get past blue on white. 

Red earthen ware with delft blue stain with a clear glaze
 We will also be testing some photocopy transfers this coming weekend. This is what they look like before firing. The end result should be a sepia brown image which is integrated with the glaze.

Photocopy transfer with coloured underglaze highlights
Image: sketch of folk artist Maud Lewis's house
Photocopy transfer - image from the Quaker House 
Ive also been continuing carving spoons and here are three that I have completed. Its a bit addictive and Ive also got another two started.

Whittled wooded spoons
displayed on antique linen
Earlier in the week I joined Jana from Swain Street Woodworking, who makes the most beautiful cutting boards by hand, and we checked out the lumber yard. I was so impressed with the variety of woods they had. I choose wood that was local to the area: beech, oak and maple to name a few.

At the tip of the Halifax harbour is Point Pleasant park which has over 39km of nature trails and is a perfect place for a picnic. Whilst walking through earlier this week I saw this most beautiful scene that I had to share with you.

The weather continues to be summery and I have been enjoying all that is on offer on the harbour front. I have tried Cow's, a local ice creamery on PEI (and they have an outlet in Halifax) that is famous for its ice creams. So far I have tried PEI strawberry in a chocolate cone, and the Gooey Mooey which has toffee, chocolate and caramel. mmmmmm.  And there are so many more delicious flavours that I want to try including maple syrup and walnut ..... Ill let you know what they taste like!


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