30 Day Challenge

Day 3 – cheating really as this is a sculpture just finished last year for the Prism exhibition in London!

Firing Day

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.

Process

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!…..

Another interesting YouTube film about sawdust kiln firing

 

 

 

Ceramic & textile sculptures

Finally ready for the fire.

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.

 

Firing plan

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.

Colours

  • Hardwoods- Black/dark grey
  • Drift wood – Blue/greys, aqua shades, grey/black
  • Seaweed roots – Brown, rust, beige
  • Kelp – Yellow, orange
  • Table salt – Orange, yellows
  • Sea salt – salmon pink, orange, yellow
  • Copper carbonate – green, black, maroon
  • Ferric chloride – iron reds, yellow, orange

The ceramic network

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.

  • Copper Carbonate – greens, blues, maroons, reds
  • Copper Sulfate – greens, blues, maroons, reds
  • Cobalt Carbonate – blues
  • Ferric Chloride – reds, yellows, oranges
  • Steel wool- blues, greys, pinks
  • Banana peel- greens, grays
  • Copper wire – red, black, blue, green, whites depending on wire
  • Sawdust- black, grey, blue-grey,
  • Cow pies – blacks, yellows, greens, greys, browns
  • Bacon Grease – brown/greens
  • Sodium Chloride- Orange, yellows, salmon, peach, gold
  • Coffee Grounds – browns, greens, blues
  • Leaves – brown/greens
  • Grass – brown/greens
  • Miracle Grow fertiliser
  • Red Iron Oxide – browns, maroons, rust

Up in smoke pottery

 

Colourants I will use:

  • Copper sulphate
  • Copper wire
  • Ferris oxide – rusty tub
  • Banana skins
  • Table salt
  • Tumeric
  • Leaves from perennials -robinia, laurel
  • Hard woods

Before placing the figures in the drum I will put them in the kitchen oven and to heat to a good temperature – hoping to prevent stress fractures.

Firing day is Tuesday 26th February!

References:

Pit Firing

http://www.eduardolazo.com/pitinstruct.html

Pit Firing Using a Good Old-Fashioned Charcoal Grill

http://www.upinsmokepottery.com/pit-firing.html

video

 

 

 

Figures in ceramics – work in progress

 

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….

Problems:

  • 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…..

Chris Dunn – great teacher

First attempt 22.10.18

Looks good – shows potential however the clay cracked on drying and on further research realise that I should use a paper clay…

As I have already bought a large slab of stone ware clay and a pot of slip I need a recipe!

Next… paper clay making!