Sunday, April 28, 2013


While my fellow lucky potters are gathering and immersing themselves in all things ceramic way over at the big Gulgong clay event - I am home in Western Australia pondering the weird and the wonderful. in my own clay realm.  Take a look ....these are just out of the kiln.

First the weird - something very odd is showing up in a kiln load of student laser decal work.  What is this crazy, crispy, bubbly substance that is appearing on these mugs?  I suspect there was some kind of 'dressing' on the mugs over the glaze, perhaps some layer of low temp. ceramic gloss laquer, but that is just a guess.  They were fired to over 1060C - nothing in that kiln load is fusing properly and the work is all store-bought whiteware from various sources onto which we applied our laser decals from our own photos, drawings and sources.  They are being re-fired a tad higher.  Have you had this experience too?  I'd love to know your take on it please.

The wonderful?  I taught a holiday class of children last week at Central Inst. of Tech. Ceramics.  They had just been to see the Picturing New York photographic exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia  (AGWA), then walked to TAFE for lunch in the grassy courtyard, then taken downstairs to the big ceramics studio to build their own skyscrapers with me.  They aged from 7 - 12 and were the best kind of kids, tuned in, interested and ready to express themselves in clay.  Architectural schools in WA watch out, in about twelve years some of these guys will be coming to turn your ideas on their heads.  In their concepts there were fairytale influences, one or two balconies, a few references to medieval buildings, some bunker like structures that seemed to reference either James Bond landscapes or a post apocalyptic cityscape - who knows.  My favourite was by a gorgeous chap whose roof on his round building sank a bit, so we called it a rooftop swimming pool to which he later added a large sphere - not a beach ball, just a big solid outside ball of clay.  I know I'd like a rooftop pool just like that.  He will be the founder of the WhyTheHell Not school of Design. There was a slide on another structure too, with SLIDE scratched into it just in case you missed its purpose, a tall building with a slide from the upper storeys - hell yeah, I'd like to live in their imaginary buildings alright.  
A Medieval air about this gem. 
Love the gargoyle sticking its tongue out at all and sundry.
Spectacular formal roof garden with trees!
Packing with newspaper to support a sagging roof on one's bunker style home.
Sunken rooftop pool with large sphere as focal point.  
The small building is to house the staff!
Scout the airdale terrier created after the first two skyscrapers were completed.
He called it a Shoe House and we decided the lower part was an underground room with skylights.
I had to agree that every tall building needs its own slide.  Well the lifts might be out!
A 'block' of skyscrapers on way to the drying room, I reckon there's a really cool bar just round the corner to the right!. See you there! 

I'd have liked to make proper straight sided, tall buildings from slabs but that would have taken massive preparation and I had no idea of what abilities would be coming to the class.  We went with rolled slabs curved around cardboard cylinders which had been wrapped in newspaper to allow it to slide off and release.  We also cut some lengths of freshly pugged cylinders of clay (they liked the imagery of a clay sausage machine) into which we pushed large blocks of wood to form the interior space, then peeled chunks off the outside with wire.  Boys seem to love stuff like that, especially the wiggle wires.  I'd been apprehensive really, I feared getting a class load of very demanding young folk but each one was a delight, as was their work.  

The photographic exhibition ends on the 12th May so you still have time to get in and catch it!  Stop prevaricating around the bush and just do it.  Come now to Mud Colony (click on the link to get there) bloggers to see what they are all up to, some of whom are in Gulgong, having a blast no doubt. 

But Wait!!  There's MORE!  Check out the new Facebook page for my workplace at Central Institute of Technology, Ceramics Studio.      Ciao, Elaine


  1. Hi!! I have also posted another comment on your backwards forwards laser decal. So I'm a yr 12 student from nsw Sydney and I am determined to use laser decals however I have little experience in clay
    Have you ever tried laser decals in greenware ?
    Those mugs look amazing by the way

  2. karrot email me on if you need help. Pretty hard to get decals to stick onto greenware, horizontal maybe, vertically, difficult. They fire ok on greenware but not as well as on glazed or bare bisqued surfaces. Why would you want toput them on greenware? If you were thinking of glazing over them - forget it, a waste of time! The decal hasn't enough iron present to withstand the glaze, it gets consumed and disappears.