The conversation continues… does it matter if clay is finally being embraced by the art world (see NY Times)?
I don’t think so. Ceramics is its own thing with a fascinating history (20,000 years). Clay as a medium doesn’t need to be accepted by the art world for it to be awesome. The clay/art conversation just adds to its story & reinforces its influence & importance.
Haptic-fantastic, ‘rudely analogue’ (see The Guardian) & it tells so much about our past & present.
Clay yields & Ceramics is unyielding – it can be what you want it to be & it’ll be around for a long time to come. Pots have always had presence… subtle, there but not THERE. The hierarchy of acceptance is a distraction and reinforces some bad habits/attitudes.
This weekend I had my first go at 3D printing. I designed a form using SketchUp & printed some plastic cookie cutters on a friend’s DIY printer. This was version two, it was made using version one. I’m totally up for version three making it’s way to the studio.
I’ve been hanging out with the youth at Carr Manor Foundation Years for over a year now and it’s led to a new contract at Foundations Nursery in Batley. I go once a month to Batley and to Carr Manor every week. I work with staff and children looking at ways to use clay to help with material understanding, problem solving, fine motor skills and investigative play. Language comes in to it too.
In my last session at Batley, I set tasks to help develop hand-eye coordination by asking the children to explore different approaches to balancing and fixing disparate materials together.
We used clay as an anchor, binder and ballast – rolling, threading and blending to cover, stack and thread together wooden skewers, lollipop sticks, pipe cleaners, spaghetti and paper tubes into tall and long forms.
Clay is a fascinating material to take risks with because it changes state, and if things go wrong it can be reused. Clay in the curriculum is really important. Using it involves using the body & mind in ways that don’t have comparisons. I think that difference is needed to suit the variety of ways people learn and understand.
Look at this bunch of cheery creatures. They were made by Katy in one of our pottery evening classes. The flat disks are test tiles exploring a range of decorative techniques using slips and underglazes. They were made in preparation for a main make – see below for details.
If you love colour, you might like these. I’m currently working on three sizes of ceramic petri-style dishes for The Hepworth Wakefield Contemporary Ceramics Fair in May. Available in red, yellow, orange and blue and diameters 10cm, 15cm and 20cm (approximately). These images are of work in progress. The colours look neon – they’ll still be bright when finished but not this bright…
I’ve finally finished a few odd jobs around the house. One of which was getting this print stretched. It’s by Matthew the Horse and last year he visited the studio to work on a few examples for our Ceramics Taster: Trail.
Coil pots to Tulipiere in 10 weeks of making. Look at that offset foot. Each part has one so each pot appears to hover above the table. Design details like that make me smile. This amazing Tulipiere stack was made by David during one of our six week evening classes. David has already completed our Beginner’s Bundle: Build and has progressed onto the next course. If you’re interested in learning basic pottery making techniques and processes visit Tasters, Courses and Events.
In September I was asked to make some colourful ceramic thimbles for the ‘Fairy Lady’ Samantha Bryan. Samantha is inspired by Victorian gadgetry and invention and creates humorous suspended, wall mounted and free standing sculptures out of a combination of wire, leather, found objects & collected materials. These unusual sculptures depict everyday life in ‘fairyland’. Samantha species of fairies are beautifully crafted and each tells an endearing story built around ideas on what they need, the perils they face and how busy they are. Listen to Samantha talk about being an inventor and story teller in her film ‘Desire to Fly’.
Melanie Hadida and I decided to get together for a collaborative workshop (Tea Bowls and Tea Blends: Brew) over a shared love of the book Herbarium. It’s a beautiful book conceived, written and illustrated by Here Design (Caz Hilderbrand).
The popup shop at Carousel in Headingley was an opportunity to showcase our ceramic products – necklaces, brooches, bangles & spoons – alongside our clay workshops. The aim was to have a street presence where we could promote the studio and chat to passers by. The popup shop is smaller than our permanent ceramics studio in Roundhay. However, because it doesn’t contain all the tools & kit needed to operate a ceramics studio we were also able to invite bigger groups, more frequently, into the space. We hosted a range of introductory clay workshops in the Headingley space. The workshops covered coil building (Coil), spoon making (Whittle) festive bell making (Chime) and decorative ceramic Christmas decorations (Scatter). The larger space meant we could also accommodate larger private group bookings.