Showing posts with label Fremantle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fremantle. Show all posts

Friday, May 17, 2013


I find it handy to be an optimist, it saves so much down time working through the negatives and hurdles life can toss your way.  My man was thrown from his motorbike and hospitalized for several weeks.  It was scary, he lived and is healing – all good.  I came down with flu after my flu jabs – felt lousy for days, got through it, all good.  Tore two fingers up on a tiny shard stuck on a pot I was glazing, copped seven stitches -  oh God that was nasty, lived, and will heal.  That was very traumatic but my co-workers took great care of me at the time, they had my back. Now, all good.  It’s amazing how much you want to make stuff, knit, crochet and throw when your fingers say no.  We learnt that our sons will kick in and help if we remember to ask them to.  It is good; the team is there when needed.
Today I took one of my infrequent saunters through my town, Fremantle.  I figured the bad hand is useless, might as well get some new winter boots sorted and new shoes for a wedding we’re going to.  The morning was cool but warmed up nicely.  A sunny, pleasant day in Freo, watching folk do their stuff.  I was drawn by unusual choral sounds.  Outside the town hall large gaggles of serious schoolgirls in expensive private school uniforms congregated, going through their scales for an Eisteddfod.  It brought back memories of my school days and being in choir competitions.  It reminded me of being 15 again, which, while fun, is not something I’d wish to relive with the angst and insecurity that goes with it.  Better to be fifty and confident and in control of my life, even with the grey and the curves. 

An excellent busker stood outside a surf gear shop belting rock gems out with a passion.  My pal Ger’s husband used busk in Grafton Street, Dublin when we were 17, when U2 were just another Dublin band.  Happy days.  Ger and Hughie are both stars on the Irish folk circuit in Boston now.  I wished they were here.  

People sat at cafes relishing their coffees all along the Cappuccino Strip.  You could tell the tourists by their purposeful strides.  We don’t do purposeful strides much in laidback Freo darl!  We amble and saunter and ponder and relish.  Freo doesn’t do mainstream High Street stores too much, thank goodness. 

 I scanned some massively cool boutiques along South Terrace and scored a divine printed velvet tunic in Hypnosis and some ‘to die for’ tangerine suede sandals found among the silks and velvet desirable wearables in Love In Tokyo. (photo: That reminded me of my Cerise velvet coat I’d bought from the owner years ago, must dig it out, the kids of strangers hug me just to snuggle that coat and I have been asked to leave it in my will to my great pal Marion.  I usually detest shopping!  This way of finding gear works best for me and the stars were truly aligned, they must have heard about the stitches.

I called Marianna who works in Notre Dame University in Freo for coffee, she declined as she has the flu.  We laughed at our being such crocks after both enduring several stressful weeks and we planned a great dinner out in Freo with our guys once she’s well again.
Deep inside New Edition, the best book shop in Perth, down Fremantle High Street in what once was a huge old bank, the kind that can scare you – I tracked down my designer pal Deb McKendrick whose lush label is Velvet Sushi.  

New Edition has a cafĂ©, a thrilling, eclectic selection of book titles and Deb’s boudoir like atelier, boutique.  I’m telling you – Freo can be heaven.  Look at this website here if you want to get an idea of where I live, the photo below is from that site.  It documents our City and environs very well.  

I treated myself to Olivier Dupon’s book The New Artisans, a hardback survey of contemporary makers, like myself, whose creativity drives us to immerse ourselves in our processes to make all manner of desirable gems in clay, cloth, wood and metal.  Oh boy I can't wait to devour that book.  

So, I came home feeling fortified and buoyant ready to clear the decks and start making again.  Twenty-four hours ago I was pressing my face into a quilt and crying in pain from neuralgia, exhaustion and misery, I’m not embarrassed to admit that.  Fortunately I found empathetic professionals and drugs that worked.  Yay for drugs -  the legal kind!  I wonder if I’ve turned a corner and instead of a bus about to hit me, there’s a flower garden instead.  I bet you I’m right.  It pays to be an optimist.  What do you think?  OK finished reading my mind?  Over to the Mud Colony to see what the potters are thinking.  

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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Getting ready - a commission.

Some of my earliest memories of living here in Fremantle include taking our lads as toddlers down to Bather's Beach, a small beach on the edge of Fishing Boat Harbour .  This is a short walk from Arthurs Head, the J Shed where Jenny Dawson, ceramic artist, Photographer Peter Zuvela and Greg James, Scuptor have studios.  Just as close are Freo's Cappucino Strip and the cafe's, bars and businesses in town.  The arrival of Notre Dame University has gentrified the once tatty working class corner of town nearby, given employment to some friends, and educated their offspring.  How would you like to go to a Uni where you can loll on a beach within two minutes of attending a lecture?  There used to be a MacDonalds on the beach too, and many happy hours have been passed and happy meals consumed by WA families here.
Twenty years ago Joan Campbell who is remembered as a 'pioneering potter' of WA had her studio in the old Kerosene Store, right on Bather's Beach facing the Indian Ocean.  Joan instigated the installation of a large wooden jetty formed from the old timbers of Busselton Jetty if I am to understand correctly, as homage to the history of the area and on which people climb, lol, and lie under the glow of the sun or the moon, according to their whim.  Joan screen printed, artwork, text and maps illustrating the place in former times, onto tiles which were installed into a horizontal beam.  As you can see, the tiles have suffered in the two decades, from the very harsh climate or from vandalism.
I have been asked, by Fremantle Council's Public Art Coordinator, to replicate the tiles, as faithfully as I can.  This week, I have done a fair bit of ground work in testing mesh sizes of silkscreens for the job.  The true test will be after lacquering the prints, applying them to test tiles and firing them.  Then I will know which mesh type gives the best print with the china paint.  The green ones here are Riso Screens which use a thermal printer to process, and the pink ones are Stencil Pro which can use sunlight to expose the image onto the mesh.  So there is a bit of local history, culture and some print on clay info to boot for you.  I will post again as the work progresses.