Thursday, 31 December 2015

Prints Charming - printing with paper doilies

The fun continues in the Prints Charming class as we explore different methods of creating a stencil for silk screening. This week we used paper doilies - and by cutting them up the class created some exciting designs. 

Anne's developing her circular doily design

Melissa's spider web design 

Jennifer's space design

It is always interesting to see how three different people will interpret an idea in three different ways to create stunning imagery. 

It is one of the reasons why I love screen printing so much. 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Passionfruit Melting Moments

My family generally make gifts to give to each other on Christmas day and almost as much time goes into the thought and consideration of the gifts as it does to the making. 

This year I tried a new recipe for Melting Moments - one of my most favourite biscuits ever. They do melt in your mouth, and the best bit was they were held together with a passionfruit cream. Yum! 

The recipe was so delicious that I want to share it with you...

I found this delicious recipe at  

  • Ingredients

Passionfruit filling

  • Method
  • Notes
  1. Step 1
    Preheat oven to 160°C. Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Step 2
    Using an electric mixer, cream butter, vanilla and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Sift flours over butter mixture. Beat on low speed until a soft dough forms.
  3. Step 3
    Roll heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture into small balls. Place on trays. Using a fork dipped in flour, lightly flatten each biscuit until 1cm thick. Bake for 15 minutes or until firm. Cool on trays for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Step 4
    Make passionfruit filling: Using an electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. Stir in passionfruit pulp and icing sugar.
  5. Step 5
    Spread flat side of 1 biscuit with 1 teaspoon filling. Top with another biscuit. Repeat with remaining biscuits and filling. Dust with icing sugar. Serve.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

222 Grips for a Stone - Handles

Continuing my exploration into 222 Grips for a Stone, I thought it would be fun to literally take the idea of putting 'grips on stone'.

Working with found lumps of clay, I attached handles generally used in kitchens to create references to domestic landscapes attached to the stone. 

I liked the idea that this one references a chest of drawers.

222 Grips for a Stone

Previously, the metal I had put in the kiln and fired to cone 08 was steel, and the result was that it oxidised and blackened. However with aluminium handles, the metal completely burns away, leaving a residue similar to shaving cream. 

222 Grips for a Stone

Also, because I am using large blocks of clay, occasionally they explode in the kiln, leaving behind an interesting assortment of rubble (as in the image above).

222 Grips for a Stone

I really enjoyed the imagery of attaching handles along the 'ridge' of a block of clay, and it immediately brought to mind the nursery rhyme Mis Marry Mack

Miss Mary Mack Mack MackAll dressed in black, black, blackWith silver buttons, buttons, buttonsAll down her back, back, back.
She asked her mother, mother, motherFor 50 cents, cents, centsTo see the elephants, elephants, elephantsJump over the fence, fence, fence.
They jumped so high, high, highThey reached the sky, sky, skyAnd they didn't come back, back, back'Til the 4th of July, ly, ly!

222 Grips for a Stone

Unfortunately, these two pieces were destroyed in the firing, and I now know to attach aluminium handles afterwards.

I find it interesting that my work continues to reference  post colonialism, domesticity and feminism, even whilst I am exploring the new theme of '222 grips for a stone' and limiting my materials to found objects.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

222 Grips for a Stone - Macrame (48-51)

#50 of 222 Grips for a Stone

#51 of 222 Grips for a Stone

I have been thinking about the definition of 'grip'. The term can have many meanings and associations.

grip 1

a. tight hold; a firm grasp: drowning swimmer now safely in the grip of a lifeguard.
b. The pressure or strength of such a grasp: wrestler with an unmatched grip.
c. manner of grasping and holding: The crate afforded no comfortable grip.
a. Intellectual hold; understanding: good grip on French history.
b. Ability to function properly or well; competence: getting a grip on the new technique.
c. Mental or emotional composure: lost his grip after he was fired.
a. mechanical device that grasps and holds.
b. part, such as a handle, that is designed to be grasped and held.

4.       suitcase or valise.

5.        a. stagehand who helps in shifting scenery.
b. member of a film production crew who adjusts sets, lighting, and props and sometimes assists the cameraoperator.

#48 of 222 Grips for a Stone

#49 of 222 Grips for a Stone

Thursday, 3 December 2015

the temporal dimension of liminality

Its crazy to think that the end of the third semester is nearly upon me. Deadlines are fast approaching for papers, as well as my third semester stdio review to discuss the progress of my work.

2nd year MFA students are also expected to have their exhibition title, press image and statement ready for our thesis shows mid next year. 

It has taken me all semester to work out what I am trying to say. The concepts have been teased out through my studio work which has been working intuitively with found materials within the theme 222 Grips for a Stone.

Along side this I have been reading a book a week and writing a response for independent studies. Through my reading and writing I have slowly filtering my key areas of interest which has finally been distilled into one word: Liminal. 

Press Statement

Liminality is the moment in time when things transition from one state to the next. The dissolution of order creates a fluid, malleable situation where one's sense of identity dissolves, bringing about disorientation, but also the possibility of new perspectives. Often the liminal experience is subliminal,  existing or operating below the threshold of consciousness. 

My MFA thesis exhibition explores the social context of liminality relating to place, travel, loss and regeneration through physical and metaphysical objects.

Friday, 27 November 2015

222 Grips for a Stone - Metamorphosis (40-47)

"stone is the only thing in nature that constantly dies" - Frances Ponge  
The solidity, reliability and impassiveness of stone is constant, yet it is continually changing, although at a greatly reduced rate compared with human life. Despite its solidity, it is worn down by atmospheric agents such as air and water, reducing large pieces of stones into pebbles, and then finally into fine particles of sand. 

#40 of 222 Grips for a Stone
Before firing

#41 of 222 Grips for a Stone
After firing
Because of this Ponge believes that stone is the only thing in nature that constantly dies (73). He then considers all forms of stone (rock, pebble, sand), all represent some stage of its evolution, exist simultaneously in the world. He relates this notion of connectedness as paradise, where all conception exists (74). 

#42 of 222 Grips for a Stone
Before firing 

#45 of 222 Grips for a Stone
After firing 

Stone is continually changing form, yet at the same time it remains true to its original composition of minerals. In some senses you could say that stone is an illusory force in nature, having the ability to continually morph itself over time. Once it is ground down into smaller particles it has the potential to be transformed into larger stones again through sedimentary processes, or melted under extreme heat in the form of lava.

#46 of 222 Grips for a StoneBefore firing  
#47 of 222 Grips for a Stone
After firing
Because of the vast difference in materiality between the unfired and the fired clay pieces, after much discussion and consideration I have started counting the before fire and after fire as different pieces in my exploration of 222 grips for a stone. 

Interestingly, the copper wire, which contains or grips the clay before being fired, acts as another grip after firing, as the melted copper sticks the ceramics together.

Ponge, F. The Voice of Things. Herder and Herder. United States 1974.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Thing Is - MFA Group Exhibition

NSCAD's Master of Fine Arts students are holding their annual group exhibition titled The Thing Is at the Anna Leonowens Gallery, November 17 – 28, 2015, with a public opening reception on Monday November 16 from 5:30 to 7pm.

the thing is invitation designed by Emily and Carly

This year, the group of sixteen MFA students will present work in a range of media from textiles, jewellery, ceramics, sculpture, and painting to photography and digital work. This group comprises nationalities spanning Australia, China, Estonia, Japan, and Canada, including four Nova Scotian artists.

They bring with them a variety of inspirations and ways of working, influenced both by the locality of NSCAD in Halifax and by their mother cultures. Representing a diverse range of themes, which include social engagement and working across disciplines in art and craft, the exhibition 'The Thing is' promises to be one that will engage the senses and the mind.

The Thing Is
Exhibition view looking through the window from Granville Mall

My work in the show continues to explore the concept '222 Grips for a Stone'. I have set parameters within the exploration, limiting my materials to found objects, wire and glass.

Presence of Absence Series

Whilst exploring the materiality of the objects I have also been contemplating themes that continue to surface in my work, including travel and movement, place, loss and regeneration.

Found clay object
shino glaze, wrapped with copper wire and steel handle
#36 of 222 Grips for a Stone 

The clay object (found in the clay recycling room) represents a sped up version of the natural geological occurrences in nature. It contains a sense of place, and is energised by fire and sensitised by touch.

Found clay object,
wrapped with steel wire, melted copper and glass
#37 of 222 Grips for a Stone

 Human occupation is a layering process on the landscape. The wire alludes to the impact of white settlement: roads, mapping and fences. At the same time it is reminiscent of women work, knitting and embroidery which uses line to create their own surfaces.

"The thread, or line transforms into traces, and surfaces are brought into being. At the same time the transformation of traces into threads also dissolves the surface" ~ Tim Ingold

Wire protects the stone, inhabiting the liminal space at the boundary of the object. It holds the stone together, but at the same time things are slipping through its grasp.

Found clay, railroad spike, glaze, steel wire
#38 of 222 Grips for a Stone

Glass has a materiality that under heat, or through time it will liquify which enables it to slip through the grasp of the wire. But at the same time it begins to also grasp the wire. Which embodies a continuous state of being.

Found clay object
nail and chain
#39 of 222 Grips for a Stone

The found objects have material, political and cultural resonances. 

The Presence of Absence, aligns with an extensive tradition of assemblage art that continues through to the work of Louise Bourgeois.

“To Bourgeois, assemblage is an act of ‘restoring…and rebuilding…it is a coming to terms with things…a work of love’ (it is a) a peaceful existence, not like carving, which she sees as an ‘attack on things' (Bernadac & Obrist 1998p.142-143)”

For more information on the exhibition, visit the NSCAD MFA blog

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.


Related Posts with Thumbnails