Showing posts with label porcelain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label porcelain. Show all posts

Sunday, August 4, 2013


AS I haven’t blogged for a while I have a headful of things I’d love to talk about.  How about I start with the most recent, and work my way back.
First of all, the Mud Colony potters are talking about their favourite tools.  So these are my standbys that I wouldn't be without.  Note my name on everything - it is too easy to lose tools in a teaching situation.  

A brass tube about 12cmm wide for making holes in things, 
A handmade bevelling tool, courtesy of my friend Trudy Golley of Red Deer College, Alberta.  
A scoring tool, just sewing needles set into drilled holes in a piece of wood - given me by Britte Stolle Jakob.
A soft red kidney from Mud Tools - any tool by Mud Tools gets on my list.  
My spirit level used for all manner of reasons, 
and finally a very sharp and pointed tool I inherited from JulietteVerdel Kesener, a Dutch potter who moved back home from WA and who gave me her studio contents when I bought her little kiln.  

Last week  work ie Central Institute of Technology, Perth, Western Australia (CIT) held their annual Advanced Diploma Visual Art & Jewellery Design Fundraising Auction.  I’ve missed the last few due to other commitments and now I see why it is such a memorable and desirable event to attend.  The auction took place at Gallery Central, ie the larger TAFE gallery on Aberdeen Street, where a pink shipping container intersects the building’s entrance - quite the landmark.  The planning and admin was handled so well I have to take my hat off to the level of commitment of the students who organized the whole thin and tadaa what was up for auction, student work – for definite, work by their lecturers and support staff at CIT, and donations by former staff, students and supportive parties.  Supportive parties?  I mean people like Master Artist Pippin Drysdale donated FOUR of her pieces – that kind of woke people up.  All sold rapidly.  Tony Jones, Sculptor, Sandra Black porcelain master, Fleur Schell of porcelain story telling fame ...  I’ll show you to invitation to convey the quality of the donors. Their generosity was incredible, so supportive and community minded, but I can't include links to all of them.

And yes, I bought!  It seems to be the season for it.  It is how I like to shop, I don’t go hunting, that part bores me, I wait till the season is right and the cream of things come my way, and it did. 
I got really lucky and bought a student painting and a lidded porcelain jar, about 20 cm tall by Sandra Black with an exquisite crackle glaze over it.  I mean it is to DROOL over.  I have to find a purpose for it so it can truly be used and not just looked at.  Yes Sandra is a great pal of mine and I’d go so far as to refer to her as an informal mentor.  I have at least five or more of her pieces.  My Facebook friends in the clay world – you know who you are – weren’t sure I really got so lucky so I had to photograph the latest piece for them.  I call it clay porn – and that’s okay!

This is the weekend of the annual Fine Art at Hale show, beginning with a lovely cocktail party preview and open to the public for two days after that.  I am heading off soon to collect any work that didn’t sell, a pal said I scored lots of red dots so that’s cool, and to pick up my second Amanda Shelsher piece.  I will share an image of that later once I have it home.  I have to stop now, no money left! Well, until the next time.  Please join me now at the Mud Colony Blog to see what else is happening in clay.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Backwards and forwards with laser decals

Yes I have heaps on Katrina Chaytor to tell you but I may not get that done this weekend, stacks going on family wise.  As I compose my thoughts on the huge amount of information gleaned watching Katrina in action at POTober - I want to mention a hint or two about laser decals that I may not have shared before.  It may influence how you go about your decal work.  Please excuse if I blogged this already.

Here are a couple of slipcast  bowls (Keane's JCast I think) onto which I applied laser decals post glaze firing, taking the decal firing to 1060 degrees C, way higher than normal onglaze decals which are usually around 750-800 degrees C (can't remember how to find the degree sign without getting distracted).  Can you see the difference?  One bowl has far clearer images than the other.  The least clear image is from the decal that was applied in the normal waterslide manner.  You trim your decal, soak it in water, apply it to the glazed ware face up and slide the cream card backing away from under the printed image leaving behind just the black laser printed image on fine transparent plastic, squeegeeing it into place and removing air or water from behind.  Easy right?  It really is exactly like those toy tattoos you used to play with as a kid.

bowls and decals by Elaine Bradley, drawn design of decals by Emma Vinkovic
Below the left hand bowl has a better, clearer image than that on the right - why?  This happened when I applied the decal onto the ware 'back to front' - face down, i.e. TONER side down, without relying on the waterslide effect to put it in place, and without the gummy layer between the decal and the backing paper to help it adhere to the ware.  I sometimes put a lick of gum arabic betwwen ware and decal on to get a bond going.  It seems to have kept more of the print/toner that was printed on the decal than the other bowl.  I think it is worth that teeny bit for effort for such a more defined result.

Below is a collage of laser decals applied to a store bought plate - before and after firing.

Right now I am experimenting optimistically with printing with cobalt in the toner cartridge.  I'll post the fired results when they are ready.  I doubt I'll get to finishing my post on Katrina's work.  So tired ... a local party kept my whole street awake and I am a yawning wreck.  See you soon, possibly over at 
Mud Colony blog where all the best clayfolk gather with their blogs ... come on.  We love feedback, so talk to us.  

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.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Most potters tend to be generous in sharing our knowledge and enthusiasm but this weekend  I encountered that and a little bit more.  Mary Wallace of Spiral Studio in Denmark, Western Australia (about 400km from Perth) presented a well planned, super workshop on throwing and working with porcelain at Perth Studio Potters in Cottesloe.  In fact I have never left a workshop with a 'goodie bag' before, a trend I'd love to see established.  We each received a handmade ramekin dish, a razor sharp carving tool, Mary's business card and publicity postcards and picture cards from the Ganjin Celadon festival.

I could be boring and relate the day exactly as it happened but this is just my little blog and not a magazine article.  Suffice to say, it was a very rewarding day.  Mary is a trained production potter, working in porcelain and she gas fires.  Production potters leave me a bit awestruck and envious of their skills.  They are so precise and decisive as they work and just get on with making - efficiently and well.   While she filled us in on her background, started at Perth Studio Potters in the 70's, TAFE, trained with Ian MacRae at Beaufort Pottery, moved to Denmark (the Denmark in Western Australia not the one in Europe) set up her own wonderful pottery and works there with her pretty great husband Daniel Webb, Mary was swiftly throwing repeat forms on the wheel.  She explained her interest in porcelain and celadons and her connection with Korea.  The day moved fast filled with demonstrations, quick slide shows, great explanations of clay bodies and how some behave when carved.  I had forgotten what the poster at Central Institute of Technology Ceramics noticeboard had advertised, I had just seen that Mary Wallace is coming to Perth, recalled her exquisite work - and signed up immediately.  I'd forgotten that carving was part of the agenda too - BONUS!  and we learnt how to make our own carving tools too and to temper the metal - double BONUS! and we got a goody bag - Oh I need a lie down.

Mary’s lotus tea set  (below) won the Judge's Prize in this years CAAWA Selective Exhibition as blogged here closer to the time.  She spent some of the day showing us how she carves these pieces having observed and learnt from Master Carvers and other craftsmen during her trips to Korea.  She made carving feel very achievable and worth doing. 
Image from CAAWA Facebook page.  Photographer, Cher Shackleton or Natalie Acton
Mary Wallace drawing the pattern of lotus flowers onto the leatherhard vase
A freshly carved outline ready for slip inlay (photo Elaine Bradley)
Coloured slip inaid into lines then trimmed away
Mary showed us how she inlays slip into carved lines in trays like the one below and several leatherhard trays for us to work on using our new carving skills.  There were about twenty two or more attending the workshop, everyone had a go.

Card supplied by Mary and Daniel

Perth Studio Potters aka PSP is an amazing resource for new and experienced potters without a studio or for the potter who likes to work in a bit of company.  There is a well equipped workroom, handbuilding table, slab roller, Venco wheels,  a brand new kiln shed out back and a glazing area.  This historical and important club which has been going for over fifty years has a small kitchen, a library and at the front of the building a modern gallery to show and sell work of the members.  A book on the club's history was authored by Janet Kovesi-Watt and which names many WA potters having had a connection at some point.  PSP runs day and evening classes and when there are no classes the members come and go using the place as their studio.  Neighbours on this suburban street often pass by and see club members sitting outside the gallery cheerfully sharing their lunch and clay tips.  As always at PSP workshops, everyone brought a plate of food to share and a delicious lunch was enjoyed with Mary outside in the springtime sun.
Peacock stained slip has been applied over the carved pattern and is being scraped away once firm.
I believe the Japanese term for slip inlay is Mishima, and I have used and appreciated the technique but now I've been told the Koreans were using it long before the Japanese or Chinese and the technique was adopted as a consequence of the many invasions of Korea down through the centuries.
I haven't mentioned Mary's husband yet.  Daniel Webb was with us all day too contributing in many ways especially when after lunch he demonstrated and advised how to make our own carving tools from umbrella spokes.  Golf umbrellas are made from better metal than cheapies are and the spokes or ribs inside can be cut out and adapted to make superb carving tools.  Daniel showed us how to cut the brolly spokes, flatten one end, trim with cutting pliers and grind to sharpen and then, bend into a useful hook all the better to carve with.  He used a variety of tools - pliers to cut, hammer on a metal block to flatten, tin snips or pliers to trim, some jewellers pliers to form the style of 'hook' desired, flat square edged, angular or gentle curve.  Fortunately I have all of these tools required, so tomorrow I will be hitting the Op Shops in Fremantle for an old golf umbrella.   I will also be plundering the garden shed and the retic risers to use them as handles for my new carving tools.  Thank you Daniel.
a mini tutorial card provided by Daniel and Mary
See how fine and sharp the carving tool is, the edges are razor sharp having been refined on the ginding wheel

I found a little more on the web about Mary, particularly here on the very informative pages ...
'Identifying Australian Pottery 1960s to Date' on  
Mary's potter's marks, image from Identifying Australian Pottery page
NOW if you are  regular reader of my blog you will know that I always redirect my blog pals over to the Mud Colony blog where you can read more of the antics, lessons and discoveries of many other clay bloggers.  The numbers are growing, there are nineteen blog links there already.  Perhaps you blog occasionally and would like to join Mud Colony?  Give it a thought.  Meanwhile hop on over here to Mud Colony.  Ciao potter pals.  


All text in this blog posting are copyright of Elaine Bradley, Ceramic Artist, Western Australia.  All photographs in this blog posting are copyright of Elaine Bradley unless otherwise stated.  Please report any errors in crediting photographs, sources or facts to the author in order to allow her to rectify the matter immediately.  Thank you  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Coming around again

Oh dear, a cliché already, using a song title (Carly Simon's) for a post title.  I mentioned before that I am doing a residency at Central TAFE - aka Central Institute of Technology, Perth in the ceramics department so I will talk a little more of that.  I applied to Central about eighteen months ago when I only had a small but purpose built studio in the back garden.  Then I was lucky enough to rent a second work space for hand building and printing in Fremantle, close to home but up a stairs, albeit a very handsome stairs in the historical Old Customs House Building in Phillimore Street.   At Central I've been making large platters and purging the need to do just that, to explore engobes and textural glazes and now, unexpectedly, after making about ten platters, finding myself wanting to get back to the wheel, play with porcelain, make fine, thin vessels - what for? To glaze, to decorate, to light from inside with candles to make best use of the translucency of porcelain, to get glowy thin melty glassy rims, to put flowers in, or small fruit, to hang glazes on the white canvas of Southern Ice porcelain - did I say I had the answers yet?  I still assert that throwing with Southern Ice feels like I imagine throwing with Philadelphia Cream Cheese would feel.
I'd show you, but I keep forgetting to take photos because time is running out and I am getting quite a lot done.  But this lure of the potter's wheel got me thinking, and trawling and I found some good videos to show you that kind of illustrate the contentment and zen-ness of working with clay.
Anne Mette Hjortshøj
I went back to bed this very cold morning after sending the lads off to school,  got under the king sized electric duvet (or 'doona' to Aussies), snuggled up with Poppy - my cocker spaniel and we watched pottery vids on Vimeo on the iPad such as  Anne Mette Hjortshøj in Denmark, I have shared that one before, and
Rocking Bowl by Karin Eriksson
Karin Eriksson of Manos, in Stockholm, Sweden and Phil Rogers in the UK.   I think new pottery students should see these vids, to be inspired and excited and embraced into the world of throwing.
Now back to real life, supermarkets and work.  I hope your day treats you well,  especially you AC, hope 'the power' comes back on so your (magic) power comes back! Now get off your computer and make something.
Oh and did I mention yet that you lovely readers should hop on over to Mud Colony regularly, at least every week, to see what a growing number potters who blog have to say about their week and work.  Maybe you could join in with  your blog?
Phil Rogers throwing a Yunomi

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What have I been doing?

What have I been doing?  
I was prepping a batch of my laser decal'd nest forms for the kiln when the Kerrie Lowe Gallery in Sydney invited me to take part in their  Print show 'Transferring the Image', opening on 22nd June till 17 July,  'Printmaking in all its forms; limited edition books, works on paper, ceramics, 3D, jewellery and fabric'.  Oh, I would SO like to be there, to see the whole show and to see my own work in that context  - but it is almost 4,000 km away.  I had fun explaining to the CIT ceramics students in the studio how I make the nests and what I do to create and apply the decals.  It seems like a lot of work, but I feel it is worth it all.  

These are the works hot from the kiln, some were TMK stoneware clay and some were in Southern Ice Porcelain, both great clays by Clayworks.

I know, its boring - MORE of my laser decals nests!  I do a lot of these forms, I enjoy them and they mean something to me.  I constantly collect twigs, leaves and feathers to photograph, even my friends present me with them sometimes, it is like collecting shells or pebbles, in taking time for such things you are rewarded with a sense of their beauty and a respect for nature.  I've observed how people impose their own narrative onto a piece and I love to see this happen. If there are no eggs printed or physical clay ones on a nest then it becomes either a childless home or an empty nest, a whole new chapter opens in the imagination of the backstory of this little nest.  If there are two eggs, people with two children light up and relate to it, it becomes somehow more meaningful to their personal story.  An empty nest with a single feather can be about waiting, or loss, the feather representing the prepared home or the evidence of the emptiness.