In the middle of this year, after saying goodbye slowly, life and time seemed to opened and through a series of chance encounters, I found myself at the Ceramics Triennale meeting Agneiszka Berger seeing her whimsical works. One evening, the ANU ceramics students put on a fun public art installation inviting us to paint in slip.
painting in slip at the Ceramics Triennale
I have played in paper clay creating small installations like my "Wish Bowl" and have used it at the Day Retreats and even to visualize paintings, but it's been a long time since I took classes and put clay through a kiln. So on my return, I contacted the Ceramics Department at NSI still affectionally known by it's previous name Brookvale Tafe.
I’d been to an end of year student exhibition some years ago to see Diane Oliver’s poetic works and I thought there might be a short course I could take. The college offers several courses that extend over a number of years, but it’s also possible to take classes by the term on different techniques. Within days I dived in and was fully submerged in plaster learning a method of making ceramics out of molds, also known as Slip Cast.
creating two part plaster molds
filling the plaster molds with liquid clay known as "slip"
As some of you may know, Hearts have become an ongoing symbol in my work, not intentionally, but intuitively. I find them an easy metaphor for illustrating both the inner and outer worlds and each year from Valentines Day to Mother’s Day I focus on my “Heart to Home” season of art.
Through this approach, I have created a series of illustrations in a variety of mediums which I loosely call "The Journey of Little Big Heart". Hearts are also an integral part of my "Coffeeosophy" series of sketches which I am currently working on in printmaking. There’s something about hearts that traverses dimensions and I’ve really enjoyed exploring in clay and allowing iterations to take me in different directions.
modelling the cast hearts, carving and hand-building
Joining and then not joining the two halves of the molds, closing the holes, painting and carving, I began to play and created a variety of stories in clay. It was fun to see what worked, learning the steps of putting them through the kilns, adding colours and glaze as I went along. I am sure there are faster ways to create, but sitting each night pottering away has been a complete delight. It's also been a huge learning curve!
hearts waiting to be fired in the kiln
allowing hearts to gather loosely into series clockwise from top left:
"sweet hearts", "heart village", "hobby hearts" and "open hearts"
mixing up a batch of slip to take home!
I've also made a slip cast copy of my mother's Gripstand mixing bowl and in the next term of Slab Forming, I created a vase and some boats from my Dreaming series. I also played with ideas from my paper art, but I’ll save those for other posts. Ceramics certainly is a slow art, which is why I haven’t shared much until now, but it’s an art that easily slips into your heart ... and into your shoes!!!
If you would like to see my hearts for yourself, come along to the Student Exhibition open 10-4pm Wednesday 25th November until Friday 4th December, it's always a great show. If you'd like to see more of what students create, you can visit the college's website, facebook page or the student's facebook page.
Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed reading.