Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Yes it is true, I have finally finished and passed my Ceramics course at Australian National University.  It took a long happy time as I deferred a couple of times but clearly Distance Study works for me.   Ten glorious days of residential school twice a year, getting the work done at home was the only way I could study Ceramics to diploma level.  It is not formally taught in Perth, which, given the facilities available at Perth TAFE now 'Central Institute of Technology' - is tragic.  I flew to Canberra with my final pieces mummified in layers of bubblewrap and styrofoam crates for assessment.  I was 'over it' and ready to be released to do all the other stuff that had been waiting to be done, including two exhibitions and competitions I had plans for too.

The tutors at ANU this time were the legendary Jack Troy and Ilona Romule, Latvian Porcelain Artist, both of whom were unbelievably generous with their time and wisdom.  I bought three small pieces of Ilona's work (an occasional bonus opportunity) and Jack's book of poetry, as well as some pieces by other graduating students. Sold some too!
This one was a favourite of mine, with screen printed tissue transferred cobalt carbonate.  I had experimented with cobalt and also with dark blue stain, I loooved the way the cobalt mix bled and seeped rebelliously over the white porcelain surface.  I made some real beauties, if I say so myself, and lost most of them to the Kiln God who is not happy that my kiln door is falling off at one hinge.  All photos in this post by Deb Plumb, Photographer. 
The work ethic in the ceramics department was maxed up like I had never seen before.  Students brought appropriate work to go into the wood firing kiln at ANU, spent the first day packing the wood kiln, then the roster began to ensure the firing went well for the next few days.  A sense of bonhomie settled on the group, rallying from their fatigue to watch (and listen) as Jack gave throwing demos, with many gems of wisdom on life, the universe etc.  Ilona taught how to make a plaster model, shape, carve, perfect it, take a mould from it, slip cast and china paint - how is that for packing it in?  Ilona was fantastic and unbelievably supportive to us to strive for the very, very best we can do.  The dedication of the tutors to conveying all they had to share was met equally by the determination of the students to soak it up, often into the wee hours.  With humour and kindness, Janet DeBoos, with Greg Daly and Joanne Searle guided six distance students through their final assessments along with a small exhibition and opening.  Janet is the most amazing champion of making it possible for ceramics students to find a way to pursue their interest hence her instigation of the Distance Diploma at ANU which is now evolving into a more wide ranging flexibly delivered opportunity to study.
Here is some of the work I put forward for my final assessment for the Diploma of Art - double-walled, wheel thrown, unglazed, porcelain, with printed imagery in screen printed cobalt or iron oxide laser decals from digital images of twigs I photographed/drew/tweaked.

Leaves, birds, feathers, twigs - to me they are about making a home, and looking after your people.


    Elaine this is such an mammoth acheivement,congratulations seems miserly a word for all your hard work and exquisite ceramic art... the decal work is beautiful,what kind of sizes are the pieces?
    Small enough to post to Melbourne ??????
    Tanto elegante,
    Auguri, Adriana Christianson

  2. Adriana you have made my WEEK with such kind words. It makes up for the kilnload of LARGE bisqued bowls (quite an achievement for me) that I lost and all the other 'stuff' that went wrong. :>D

  3. Hi Elaine,
    Congrats on your achievements, and your work is simply awesome, it was also wonderful to meet you over at the ANU.



  4. ooohh, love the cobolt piece....
    well done!

  5. New addiction, kind comments from you guys! Thank you so very much. You made me feel GREAT!

  6. having a night time blog browse and discovered your nest images- they are gorgeous! well done on completing your studies
    Lyn Cole ( a ceramic lover)