Experimental ceramic figures

I have been developing a way of creating sculptures with a clay and textile mix on a wire frame.

The figures (usually felted) are changing in response to the theme of ‘Fragility’ for the Prism Textiles Exhibition at Hoxton Arches gallery, London next month.

 

There is nothing the least fragile about my felt sculptures that go through a very vigorous, wet felt process. By creating a ceramic sculpture I have introduced an element of fragility to the form – or that is my intention!

 

 

The process thus far:

The figures have a twisted wire skeleton – 2mm and 2.5mm to reinforce the standing leg.

I made a paper clay slip with stoneware clay, paper and water and used this to soak ribbons of cut knitted woollen fabric to bind around the wires – then left to dry.

I repeated this process with the same material to shape the arms and the hips and legs. The torso was formed with solid clay to add a textural contrast.

Once dry I polished the torso clay to bring it up to a smooth shine – but only possible in places so not very sucessful!

Firing the figures

I have placed the figures in a foil ‘saggar’ with a range of colouring materials.

Materials:

  • Seaweed powder (spirulaena)
  • wire wool rusted
  • copper wire
  • banana skins
  • salt

I wrapped fine wire wool and banana skins around the figure securing them with copper wire. Spirulaena and salt was sprinkled on last and wrapped the whole in layers of foil.

Figure wrapped in foil

 

Then out to the yard and my steel bin!

I put a good 30cm of sawdust in the bottom of the bin and lined the sides with wood. I then placed two foil parcels of figures onto the sawdust base. Long ribbons of fabric soaked in white spirit were tucked into the this layer and then filled the rest of the bin with smallish pieces of wood. Finally I pushed more spirit-soaked fabric through the four vent holes, into the layer of sawdust, at the bottom of the bin.

I lit the kiln from the base of the bin – lighting the four fabric ribbons.

Once the fire was really going – about 8-10 minutes – I closed the vents with fire proof fabric kept in place with bricks.

Finally, once I was sure the fire was hot and fierce, I put the lid over the flames and there it stayed for 18 hours (over night).

Link to Raku firing

The materials have added plenty of colour to the figure and happily there are no cracks in the clay!

My final task is to find a suitable base in which to set the figures!

Question – do I add a wire head dress? Gold leaf to highlight? Lacquer? Hmmmm……

 

 

 

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!

 

Making fab soap for felting

Chemistry in the kitchen

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.

Enjoy!!

 

Prism 2018 Hoxton Arches Gallery

One of the best Prism exhibitions!

‘TRANSIENT’

A selection of artworks from the exhibition

My submissions

Life dance

Comprised of 28 small figurative felt sculptures.

I use the wet felt method to create these little figures

Exploring the Senses

Two large figurative sculptures suspended

Both pieces together in the gallery

My art work is for sale and I also welcome commissions.

Please contact me for further information.

Molly

Tunbridge Wells Artisans

Tunbridge Wells Artisans!

A new and exciting Arts and Crafts venue is opening in Tunbridge Wells, Kent on 17th November 2017 – just in time for Christmas.

The Stables, at the The George pub at the top of Mount Ephraim is a beautiful old building and perfect to host local artists and craftsmen!

 

I have booked my gallery space amongst the beams and rafters and there are still a couple of gallery spaces left – so check out the website!

Tunbridge Wells Artisans