My husband and I are doing a proposal for a public art commission and it got me thinking about my process. I generally do a lot of work in my head. Once I know I need to come up with an idea my brain works non-stop whether I want it to or not, quietly behind the scenes it’s thinking all day every day until it hits on something interesting.
most of the time I research information. not necessarily images, mostly I look for phrases and historical information that might spark an idea I like to find meaning for my concept.
I have boxes and boxes of past visual diaries but nowadays I collect photos and text in folders on my computer.
Then starts the testing. pottery and ceramics are so much about testing because there are so many variables. I have hundreds of glaze tests to help me remember what a glaze might do. (then more often than not my glaze turns out quite different to the test sample) putting two or more different glazes together can give you an infinite number of different glaze results.
when I started working with clay, I didn’t test at all. I’ve always been a bit impatient, and as I got more experience, I realised I wanted to test more so it was a natural development.
glazing is like alchemy and science experiments so it’s exciting and beautiful or a complete failure that does nothing like you expect it to.
you cannot get attached to anything you make with pottery because once you add glaze and put it in that kiln it’s out of your hands and could warp, crack, explode, or stick to a shelf.
I try to make little tests of a bigger project, but I almost always end up liking the test and include it in my work.
I try to photograph everything I do in all the stages. you think you will remember but I know I will forget what I’ve made and how I made it if I didn’t keep track.
Pottery is a balance between wet and dry clay. There’re things I can only do when the clay is at a leather hard stage or a soft stage.
you make an object with wet clay, then you dry it carefully so it doesn’t crack, which can take a day or two weeks depending on the size.
then I bisque fire it which takes 24 hours to fire and cool down.
then I paint or dip it in glaze and glaze fire it to 1220 or 1280c
which takes another 24 hours.
if I want to add overglaze decals it’s another lower temperature firing
then adding lustre would be one more quick fire.
I always have many projects on the go at the same time at different stages.
I love the process of making the most and glazing I procrastinate because I fear spoiling the work so, I always have piles of work waiting to be glazed.