Showing posts with label Cate Cosi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cate Cosi. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Brushing up in Freo

The quiet murmering, well gasping perhaps, among the clay folk here is that it is really, REALLY hard to get much claywork done in this record breaking heat in Australia.  At least for those of us in Perth, we are not sitting on our verandah of an evening watching the smoke and flames of rapid and deadly bushfires on the far horizon.  But make no mistake - we are sweltering.  Normally I pay no heed to the forecast as I cannot do much about it, but now I just want to know when it will END?  Tomorrow will be down from 36 to 26 - worthy of an airpunch YESSSSSS!  Anyhow all this blither and preamble is just to indicate that this is a quiet time and getting little done claywise is quite understandable.

But today I feel I kicked the ennui and fatigue a little bit on the butt, I got some  clay processed at home and got down to my Freo studio to get some work started.  I signed up for six weeks of classes in painting on clay at La Majolica in Fremantle.  Cate Cosi from La Majolica gave a painting demo at POTober last year and we were mesmerised, it just isn't the kind of thing you get to learn unless you seek it out.  Classes are offered for mornings and evenings.  I have always been in awe of the colour and glow of Majolica since I first learnt of it in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) when Beryl Sedgwick taught an A-Level course in Ceramics.  I doubt I will be much good at freehand loose painting onto ware but I want to rise to the challenge.  I guess I had better find my brushes and paints and get some practice in.  I also have Linda Arbuckle's DVD so I will watch that again and see if I can develop some new ideas.  Come to think of it I also have some books by the late but great Matthias Ostermann on the subject.  The time has come!  See Ya!  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

You learn something new every (Tuesday)

I am up to my third Maiolica lesson at La Maiolica in Fremantle with Cate Cosi and Amanda and it gives me two hours of the simple pleasure of trying something new and feeling free enough to think of it as 'play' and not as a challenge.  Click on the links above to get the history of Maiolica, you won't be sorry.  Like most new skills, it is not as easy as it looks.  Here is my bowl ...  Gigi threw it in Italian terracotta, Amanda and Cate are the decorating experts.  Mine is on the top left in each of these two photos, my husband has already 'bagsed' it for his brekky bowl because he likes cheerful things. 

For those who don't know, Maiolica (aka Majolica - I just stuck a 'j' in there but the Majorcan's did it first) is tin-glazed terracotta earthenware, usually with painted coloured brushwork.  Cate and her husband Gigi run the very successful “La Majolica” pottery in Fremantle, specialising in traditional Italian designs based on how it is done on the Amalfi coast, where Gigi was born. Cate has been decorating Majolica ware for many years with Amanda's assistance and Gigi does the throwing on a wheel that'd strike most as very odd.  See above where Amanda's left hand is on a plastic covered pot (ignore the plate in front of her), well that is where the wheel head is, offset by most people's standards and you'd think, a chiropractor's nightmare. I am told it is really comfortable and that you can rest against the wall while you throw.  

I've long, long been interested in Maiolica, the late, great Matthias Ostermann taught a workshop here in Perth in about 2004, he was amazing!  I have his book and also the great DVD by Linda Arbuckle on the subject.  I mention these in case you aren't as fortunate as I am with La Maiolica nearby.  

When you see something demonstrated by someone truly skilled the whole exercise seems to flow easily, the easy handling of the item, the flowing brushstrokes, the seemingly absentminded stirring and dipping into the colour all belie hundreds of hours of practice and lessons learnt.  This is why learning from such practitioners is a joy.  I've been wanting to do this for at least 20 years.  

Amanda and Cate decorate on adjustable banding wheels set on the floor. They explained about working with the right height, your comfort while you work and supporting your hands, types of brushes, care of brushes, and about mixing and applying the colour ...  how to flip over the ware without chipping off the powdery unfired glaze.  

Cate showing us how to practice 'banding' with water onto plain terracotta pots to get the feel of applying the colour to the glazed but unfired tin-glazed bowls.  The addition of 5-10% tin oxide to a clear earthenware glaze forms a lovely white opaque glaze onto which the colours, stains + fritt can be painted. Sounds easy, right?  La Maiolica import their materials for consistency and wow what colours can be achieved.  

We painted tiles in week one to illustrate the impact of one, two, then three brushstrokes over each other.  They colours are known by their Italian names as they, the clay and glaze are imported from Italy.  Here is mine below, before and after firing.

For week two we painted bowls based on this pattern but were free to use our own palettes and embellish 

Notice the wooden batt covered in bubblewrap (bubbles inside) to give a cushioned surface to protect the glazed work - which is still unfired remember...
 and here Cate is marking outlines for the painted bands with a solid graphite pencil, 
then banding with pigment and brush
Cate had the bands (stripes) painted on in the blink of an eye and the ends met - unlike mine :>D
then she marks out the areas for applying and building up the pattern.  
She places a wooden batt over the bowl, sandwiching it and flipping it over to decorate the interior.

Week three - a floral pattern, at this point we students are getting a bit cocky and 'gung-ho', ready to take on anything because it is a very enjoyable skill to learn.  Amanda told me how although she'd been to art school, her training at La Maiolica took place over years by gradually building up one skill after another.  Given what they produce at La Maiolica, I am not surprised at all.  The work there is full of colour, life and joy and beautifully executed.  

above and below, creating the flowers and baroque swirly fronds which divide the space but unify the design too
then the bowl is inverted to complete the banding on the rim and a central motif 
We got talking about this book, which I will order on The Book Depository asap, unless you, my dear readers, have a better source.  It sounds like my kind of reading and I believe there was a TV programme on Colour too which tied in so I might ask at our local Jumbo Video to see if they have the TV programme on DVD.  Happy Days to you all!

OK, that took a lot of uploading time, it was practically a magazine article.  Let's see what all the other potters are doing at

PLEASE NOTE:All text in this blog posting is copyright of Elaine Bradley, Ceramic Artist, Western Australia unless quoting from another source.  All photographs in this blog posting are copyright of Elaine Bradley unless otherwise stated.  No responsibility can be taken for external links.  Please report any errors in crediting photographs, sources or facts to the author in order to allow her to rectify the matter.  Your response or feedback is welcome.