Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Colourful Day

Fun day today. A friend whom I hadn't seen for ages, she was also a teacher of mine, Virginia Jones (Ginny) was on the island to prepare for a workshop she's conducting for "Lines in the Sand" next month. A ceramicist originally but now she includes ephemeral installations in her repertoire was checking out sites and materials. She had researched historical references in the NSI Historical Museum yesterday thanks to Elizabeth and Geoff's help.

One thing we found that she won't be using, as we think it is in a reserve, is a palette of vibrant ochres, look at these.
Geoff tells me the above photo is originally of flow-banded rhyolite which has weathered to kaolinitic clay and silica over a few hundred thousand years. There are pockets of clay but it is only in small areas. Sorry about awful photos taken with my phone.
Looking up a gully at the many colours.
We had lots to talk about and as we work in isolation most of the time it was great to hear about her work and news of other clay people.  I will attach a photo from her blog of her work. Hope she won't mind but take a look at her site.
A day or so ago after I'd crawled out of bed after a virus that had kept me out of the shed, Geoff and I went over to Main Beach Causeway to look at the pumice stone accumulation still on the beach. The last two photos are taken from the same spot looking in different directions, it breaks your heart.
The plastic washed out of rivers and thrown in the sea has attached itself to the large rafts of pumice floating from underwater volcanic eruptions between Tonga and New Zealand and they have washed ashore on poor old Straddie.
Hard to believe this is taken from the same spot looking east.

Back in the shed today at loooong last. Plates, plates, plates, panic, panic, panic.

One last photo from the ochre pit, kangaroo prints preserved in the clay.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

I'm packing heat!

A long day in the shed. Time is running out for making the wedding plates to take to Sweden, so a concerted effort is needed. I have 3 moulds and 60+ plates to make. Yikes!
 Who needs a slab roller when I have a mini version consisting of a board, calico, bamboo skewers and a rolling pin.
The bamboo skewers are taped to the calico board at a slightly narrower width than the rolling pin. The skewers are exactly the correct thickness for my plates, although I run off the rails sometimes and the thickness varies which suits me as after all they are hand made.
On the bottom side of the slab I press the stamp I had made with the Bride and Groom's initials and the wedding date. I had bought an alphabet stamp set but it was difficult to use so I had the stamp made from the wedding invitation text. The stamp was ordered on line with the graphics designed by the famous designer, cake maker, and IT queen Kate, and was delivered in two days, wow!
I press the slab into the mould leaving room for shrinkage and press the Lino cut I had made of the row of strawberries.
The grass seed heads I collected  from my walks I then pressed into the clay in line with the strawberries to make the "smultron" which is a Swedish summer tradition. Wild strawberries are picked and threaded onto grass stalks. 
Now for my secret weapon. I bought it yesterday on my way to the island. Yes I'm packing heat! It's a heat gun and it is wonderful, how did I ever live without it when making multiple moulds? Worth it's weight in gold!! And only $49.
It is magic! I would have made about 3 sets of casts per day previously, so today with my 3 moulds, I would have made 9 plates if I was lucky and if it was a warm day with the sun shining. Now with the heat gun I made.....tadaaa..... 21 plates!!!
All trimmed, sanded and drying. I think I could make even more in a day so could have the 60+ plates done in three days. Of course there are two firings and glazing yet to go.
I knew when I saw this rainbow the other morning from the shed that there would be a pot of gold nearby and it turned out to be a heat gun.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Home Sweet Home

Back to work after a fantastic week in Gulgong. It really is a special place and a town bursting with potters isn't half bad. But neither is this place......ahhh!
A walk along Main Beach in the evening was difficult as it was covered with Pumice from a long ago volcano that had washed ashore. There were some huge pieces the size I've never seen before, Geoff is still deciding why these pieces are so large. Saw a big old kangaroo and a small red wallaby on the way home but they hopped away too fast for a photo.
I'm making some hand built mugs for market. My bright idea was that it would save my back from wheel throwing but not so far. I will persist.
I spent ages cutting out the cone shape so that the mug didn't look wonky, although I like a bit of wonk as they are handmade after all.
My shapes getting leather hard. I really like the colours in this photo as it makes my eyes unable to settle.
I am using a new clay for me, MFQ from Clayworks, it is mid fire. I am short of time so after great consultation with my Gulgong mate and mid fire queen, Kim, I will once fire this to 1250°C. You know, carbon footprint etc, as well as saving money on firing. Kim is coaching me in the art of raw glazing so I hope it works as I have a large kiln and it is a lot to lose. I raw glaze in the wood kiln but this is scary.
Point Lookout this evening. I love winter when it's cold and windy and no tourists.
The sunsets are painterly at this time of year.

PS. App upgrade, now I can insert the photos wherever I like, so much better.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Last words from Gulgong

Stephen Robison from the USA was another presenter at Gulgong, I didn't know his work before. There were also two South African presenters who gave very interesting talks of the history of SA pottery and demonstrated a pit fire.