Plaster turning on the lathe

After initial induction into the technique and safety of the machinery used, this year; I could draw a detailed design and create a template, to produce an exact replica of my plans in as high detail and accuracy as my novice skills allow.


Relating to my themes of simplicity, aspiration, and mass production I chose to create a 20161130_202330simple design of a cup that I could practice translating in high accuracy into a plaster prototype, using a lather.
Reading “The Workshop Guide to Ceramics” by Duncan Hooson and Anthony Quinn to guide me, I created a technical drawing to help me record all the details I would need later when turning the plaster.

The simple shape was inspired by my catalyst object from Ken Stradling collection, or rather its first version, with the distinctive base curve with protruding legs, giving it its symbolic name “Donkey”.

I transferred the drawing onto a thick card to guide me in my progress while turning the plaster.
Due to the thickness of the card, I think I lose some details, so next time I’ll have to use thinner one.

To create the 4 separate legs I turned a distinctive foot for the cup, with intention to try to carve and dremle away the excess later.


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Using a multitude of tools and carving away very carefully and little, while often checking the progress with the template was it seemed the best approach to acquire a high accuracy.
The biggest struggle really was to imagine and see the different angles and try to recreate them in multitude of places at the same time so that the template could slide in a bit further each time.


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At the end I was rather happy with the result. The template was slightly off a millimetre or 2, but all the angles and curves were exactly how I wanted them to be.
Moreover, I really enjoyed this highly controlled and measured, then carefully detailed and intricate process to create something exactly as designed.
However, next time I could try more creative and spontaneous approaches?
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Technical Exploration

Technical exploration within my Subject project and Technical Research project;
exploring slips, layering, and simple EW melt test and glazes.


Slip

Looking at my object from the Ken Stradling Collection, I wanted to try and recreate the 20161024_100056plywood that created the curves and form of the Penguin Donkey in clay.
Using slips seemed like the easiest option to start with, applying it onto a plaster bat with a brush, layer upon layer of blue and white as well as black and white, drying them slightly with a heat gun to prevent the colours mixing.
The problem arise when taking the ply-clay slabs from the bat. I tried to use thin metal kidney, but the slip continued to tear and distort even when drier.

Screen Shot 2016-12-06 at 00.35.59.pngI assume the difficulty of removing slabs from plaster are due to the thinnes of the pieces. Anyway, I wanted the overall thickness, as well as the thickness of individual layers to be much thicker, closer to the thickness of real plywood.

I mixed a bigger quantities of slip to experiment with, with different colours to try various colour combinations.
I chose a specific colour palette based on the most widespread Penguin Books colour – Orange, and its split complementary colours to work nicely together, layered upon each other.
In Penguin Books’ categorising, Orange is representing fiction, whereas Blue is for bibliographies and Purple for essays.
Further colours close to the 3 split complementary that I will consider to use is Yellow (miscellaneous), Cerise (travel and adventure) and Pink (drama).

I made multiple thin guides in the wood workshop to guide me at making the individual layers uniformed. IMG_1510
The scraping problem didn’t reoccur again, and the thickness and uniformity was ideal.
However, I did use quite a lot of slip; but more importantly, I wasn’t able to bend the slabs easily at all.
I was only able to create a small curved pieces, with quite a lot of cracks.

I think for next trial I’ll have to investigate adding a paper pulp to the slip to make it more 20161027_161418flexible when forming, as well as create a plaster moulds to bend the slabs over into desirable form.

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20161122_153049 I also tried to paint the slip over a pieces of paper to help remove the slip slabs from plaster and make the forming easier. I attempted to recreate and enlarge some of previous tests, but it didn’t work that well, having difficulty to join the sides and hold the shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Glazes

A series of 10 melt test of simple combination at EW temperature (1050-1070C).
I started with China Clay and Flint with additions of Borax, High Alkali or Calcium Frit, or Potash Feldspar, Wollastonite or Strontium Carbonate, with additions of orange stain or Rutile for colour.

I played with their values on http://www.glazesimulator.com/ to predict how they could behave.

Few of them didn’t fuse, but most of them turned into a glaze with different matt, porridge like or shiny transparent effects.

Cardiff Contemporary – Site Specific work by Roman Štětina

Peculiar experience visiting casino for the first time, while exiting a site specific work by Czech artist Roman Štětina; part of the Cardiff Contemporary biennale, exploring the theme of ‘communication’.


 

SHAVE AND A HAIRCUT – TWO BITS from Roman Štětina on Vimeo.


The incredible experience started immediately, by entering a long corridor winding it’s way in between the shop-floor spaces; a backstage corridor leading to a backroom in the city centre.
At the end of the corridor, a wast darkened room with aggressive and opulent reds and gold, giving casinos’ suggestions of excitement, opportunity, profit and luxury.
However, now the space was dystopian and empty; with only old CRT televisions showing still footage, and photographs in light boxes, mirroring back the space.

Referring to the theme of the festival, Roman is exploring ‘one way communication’ within TV and radio media. “The speaker doesn’t know if they are heard, or who hears them, and the listener is unable to respond”.

I certainly felt lonely and abandoned, only at the receiving end. The same feeling continued when I entered the real casino through the backdoor, only observing the number of people engaged in the casino’s games.

I wonder if certain spaces are influencing and stimulating people to observe ourselves within, to reflect and meditate.

Penguin Donkey

Visiting the Ken Stradling collection and choosing our catalysts for our projects.
My eyes were drawn to a small 1963’s book case on 4 legs, filled with orange book-spines.
The extraordinary story of this small piece of furniture took me on a journey through the world wars, revolution in book publishing, architecture and all the ambitious ideas of modernism.


The ISOKON manufactured and designed by Ernest Race in the 1963 – ISOKON PENGUIN DONKEY MARK 2, displayed within the Ken Stradling collection was the starting point for me.

The father of the original Penguin david-tatham-donkeyDonkey was Egon Riss. As a Bauhaus-educated architect from Vienna, relocated to the UK, he started to experiment with new exploration within plywood bending and its possibilities.
His purpose build piece of furniture was commissioned by then very new, but a very rapidly successful paperback publisher Penguin Books. They revolutionised the easy of consuming our books and made it available to masses; by having best classical and modern works of literature produced in small, portable and cheap paperback format.
The new purpose build holder needed to reflect the easy and new way of reading; the books being close, always available within an arm’s reach from a chair, compare to conventional storage of great library like bookshelves.
The Donkey was manufactured using thin birch plywood, which became unavailable due to the outbreak of the Second World War, and all the plywood was directed for war purposes.
With only 100 pieces manufactured, the production ceased to halt.

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ISOKON tried to revive the forgotten and never manufactured in a larger scale design by commissioning Ernest Race to create a modern version of this highly functional piece of furniture. The form changing drastically, loosing its early modernist curves for cold and sharp minimalists angles. The top is flattened to serve another function, as a coffee/side table, but still keeping its middle gap for magazines and newspapers.

This object caught my interest most from the Ken Stradling collection because of its minimal, functional design, purpose built for another object, as well as the white neutral colours giving prominence to the bright colour sleeves and ideas of display and containment.
However, it is the original curvy design and the story surrounding it and its makers and processes that I want to expand on.

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In 2003 The Donkey saw another redesign by Shin and Tomoko Azumi, bringing back the curves, but still keeping some of the right angles. I feel it’s a nice fusion of the two designs, bringing extra functionality by the side handles and completely closing the top to function as a small table.

Continue reading Penguin Donkey

CoCA

DRAFT

Our 2 day trip to the Harley Gallery and Studios, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Centre of Ceramic Art within York Art Gallery.
An immerse and deep exploration of British Studio Pottery: from meeting practitioners, to the curators, collectors and archivers.


With over 5 500 ceramic artefact, CoCA is a waste collection and resource of ceramic practice in the UK. Its important work is to tell the stories of significant artists, potters and/or makers working with clay, and their collectors.
It’s to the generosity of The Very Reverend Dean Eric Milner-White, W.A. Ismay, Henry Rothschild and Anthony Shaw that this public collection can showcase the most complete story of British studio ceramics.

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1) As we live in wold of big data, there is so much information in our world, so many products, ideas, concepts and data created every day, we can’t possibly see and experience most of them.
Growing in importance, it is curator’s job to digest, choose, present and restrict the flow of information, same as collectors who’s collections are exhibited and studied, they can direct our tastes and presences.
But as we discovered, not all creators has to have money or influential position to exert this kind of power. It’s more about dedication, passion, and confidence in own decision.
But they must bee influenced too, in the never ending network of constant selecting and rejecting.

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Curators’ job is more to select and digest already existing collections, within a public institution with public collections, or as with CoCA, private collections donated for public use.

I was very delighted by the refreshing connections of classical fine art paintings and contemporary ceramic art/craft. …

“Like other forms of art, its [curation’s] function is not the restoration of context of origin but rather the creation of a new context.” (S. Stewart, Objects of Desire)

2) As to the extensive network of people guiding and presenting what we see, David Clarke tries to understand material culture as a system with subsystems.
David describes 5 main subsystems:

  1. Social subsystem: the hierarchical network of inferred personal relationships, including kinship and rank stats.
  2. Religious subsystem: the structure of mutually adjusted beliefs relating tot he supernatural.
  3. Psychological subsystem: the integrated system of supra-personal subconscious beliefs induced upon the individual in a society by their culture, their environment and their language.
  4. Economic subsystem
  5. Material culture subsystem

“These five subsystems headings are transparently based on the prejudices of current opinion, underlining their arbitrary nature,”

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“A static and schematic model of the dynamic equilibrium between the subsystem networks of a single sociocultural system and its total environment system”.

As all the 4 private collectors basically knew each other and hugely influenced one-another , their collection can’t be called vast and comprehensive.

3) A carefully curated domestic space, exhibited within a public gallery space was rather exciting to see, comparing that most collections are displayed in museum settings behind glass. It showed individual’s taste in it’s most natural state. Such display inspired new ways of curating our own spaces, as well as giving more attention to the aesthetics of the ceramic objects.

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Anthony Shaw as the latest contributor with his collection of contemporary ceramics that still grows, actually did bring new direction and feel within the overall  collection.

I liked his opinion, and it was rather motivating, that makers should predominantly work true to themselves, rather than try to adapt to the market and try to figure out what people want.
But then the curators and influential collectors should guide people’s taste better, for more progressive and supportive directions, beneficial for the makers.

4) Psychology of collecting, as an addition to functional and decorative

Although I feel CoCa’s collection is rather biased and mostly showing similar single direction and aesthetics of ceramic practice, I’m happy that there’s the curational discussion and openness to innovate. With the domestic display of Anthony Shaw’s collection, or pairing object from rather dissimilar practices and timeframes to stimulate new ways of looking and discussing, there’s an interesting progression for innovation.


Publications used:

Interpreting Objects and Collections; Susan M. Pearce; 1994
Photographs, Museums, Collections Between Art and Information; E. Edwards and C. Morton; 2015
Centre of Ceramic Art an introduction; Helen Walsh; York Museum Trust
The Anthony Shaw Collection