1480-1520: This early phase in Iznik production saw impressive vessels, usually painted in a bold cobalt-blue and white, and often with patterns reserved in white on the blue ground. The decoration is heavily informed by that of other media, such as manuscript illumination, although many designs are also borrowed from the Chinese porcelains that were prized at the Ottoman court.
1520-1540: Turquoise blue is introduced, and decoration is largely painted on a white ground. Designs become simpler, but still frequently take Chinese motifs for inspiration. One rare group, which developed in this period, uses delicate spiralling scrolls with tiny leaves and flowers — known as ‘Golden Horn ware’, because of where it was first found. The period also saw the production of ‘Potter’s Style’ pieces, whose designs tended to feature central compositions, containing realistic representations of flowers in vases, or jugs on small tables.
End of the 1530s: Manganese purple and olive-green are added to the palette of blue and turquoise. Iznik of this period is often referred to as ‘Damascus ware’ because of the similarity that the colours bear to wares produced in Syria. Often large, round motifs with scale-like patterning are used in the decoration, which sometimes represents pomegranates or artichokes. Increasingly, one sees the naturalistic design that comes to dominate production.
1560-1600: This is the phase under which Iznik reaches its highest point. Artists combine a rich repertoire of often naturalistic motifs. The Ottoman Empire is at its height and enormous quantities of Iznik are commissioned, including large numbers of tiles destined to cover the walls of the buildings built by the chief court architect, Sinan. A strong turquoise, emerald-green, black and deep-red are added to the spectrum of colours, and outlines are often drawn in black.
The 17th century: Due largely to economic difficulties, there was a decrease in demand for Iznik in the early years of the 17th century, and quality began to fall. Coarser versions of the productions of the previous century were produced, the colours of works deteriorated — with red often appearing slightly brown — and decoration became less detailed, more obviously executed freehand. During this period, the quality of the paste and glaze also deteriorates, with the glaze taking on a bluish tone and becoming more prone to craquelure. Designs did, however, become freer, with the artist’s imagination often conjuring up unusual designs — sometimes with quirky figural representations.
I’m going to drum fire two ceramic figures today – it will be a first!
I am going to sagger each figure in foil to protect them and to see how the organic materials I am adding might colour the figures.
I wrapped two lengths of ceramic insulating fabric around the steel drum just above the second air vent, securing the fabric in place with galvanised wire. I plan to pull the fabric down to cover the air vents, and place the lid on the drum, once the fire is really going. Firing time is about 4 hours and will then leave it all to cool completely before removing the figures.
1. The ceramic figures
Wrapped fresh and dry banana peels around each figure securing with a bronze wire.
Base layer of foil and a layer of sawdust – this will create a black colour where the sawdust touches the ceramic.
Added pieces of rusted steel, table salt and copper sulphate.
Sealed the foil wrapping to make a parcel
2. Into the drum!
The steel drum is large – added sawdust to the level of the second air vent.
Put the two foil-wrapped figures into the sawdust.
Trailed three spirit-soaked lengths of fabric into the drum.
Placed layer of wood pieces in and around the bin about 30cm below the surface.
Lit the fire by lighting the fabric lengths.
As the fire grew I added more wood.
Once the fire was really going I pulled the ceramic insulating fabric down over the air vents and place the lid over the top. Ideally I would have a chimney lid but I don’t!
I have left it over night (about 18 hours) and will see how things work out tomorrow!…..
To create these figures I started with a twisted wire skeleton and covered it with ribbon cut from a medium weight wool/acrylic sweater. I then coated the wool fabric liberally with paper clay slip. Once this layer had dried I applied ribbons of wool fabrics soaked in the clay slip – wound onto the legs and arms, shaping as I went.
Paper Clay Slip – Add 5–15% paper pulp to the stoneware clay slip mixing it thoroughly with a drill mixer. I soaked shredded loo paper in water, with a capful of bleach, over night and then pour the lot through a colander, pressing out the excess water before adding to the clay slip.
Next, I used stoneware paper clay to form the torso – making a smooth surface to contrast with the wool texture on the legs and arms. Once I had the shape I wanted I left the figures to dry slowly to prevent the clay from cracking.
I have a large steel drum and also several metres of ceramic fabric to insulate from the outside. A local joinery has lots of sawdust and there is plenty of wood in the shed.
Plan to cover with figures in organic material such as banana skin and may wrap in aluminium foil before placing in the drum kiln.
You can place colourants in the bedding, around each piece, on top of each piece, or even throw it at the pieces during the firing. Each can result in different effects in the coloration. When you bury the colourants, it will add color late in the firing. If you place in around or on the piece it will colour in the middle of the firing. When you throw it in you can get instant colouring much like a star burst pattern.
The Prism 2019 theme is ‘Fragility’ and knowing just how robust the process of making the felted figures is I really can’t imagine them as fragile. However by combining clay with the fibres on wire would create a fragile form – the fibres being burnt out in the kiln….
I am not a ceramicist! – I did experiment with this technique during my degree but is was rather unsuccessful.
Finding a kiln – could ask the lovely people at Brighton University where they have huge kilns that I used to experiment and the Phoenix centre rent kin space – not as big….. or I could pit fire the pieces myself…..
I make my own soap and have done for over 10 years and I always use it to make felt.
There is nothing quite so good as handmade soap and it can be made in bar or liquid form. There are many great websites and YouTube videos now that recount the history of soap and how to make the stuff – not the melt and pour variety but the cold process method – it’s Chemistry in the Kitchen’!
If you would like to view the my soap course please click on this image:
For the ingredients I can’t find in the supermarket I go to The Soap Kitchen (UK) and there are also plenty of good suppliers on Ebay.