Aluminium Casting

Wednesday workshop was great opportunity to test the waters in a different medium.
Trying to explore ideas from Subject, but to make the process simpler I created more abstract, simpler growth objects.

We had to create our objects-to-cast in polystyrene, which has rather unpleasant quality when trying to achieve more smooth, clean surface. I tried to work with its qualities and let it melt, or show the individual bubbles for more visceral textures.

Roots, carrots, protrusions, limbs, fibres, pods, pips, are the natural features I was going for. I wanted to create them to see how they will work together with ceramics, part of an installation perhaps.


From creating the sand cast, it seemed like I’m digging out these buried fossils.

Opening the cast, the casted objects really looked like some natural root growth, connected in a network of aluminium channels.
Even the black burned sand trapped in the cavities I had to clean was like soil.



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.

video-1480523716 video-1480523709


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.












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?

Tea for Two – Printing

We had lovely Anne Gibbs to give us an intense introduction into printmaking, and how it can help us develop our ideas and use the imagery and techniques on clay.

Using water-based inks for easier cleaning and benefit of environment, Anne showed us throughout the day different print techniques such as addition, subtraction, blocking, mono-printing and mark making with different range of tools.
Printing with Ann GibbsPrinting with Anne Gibbs

Printing with Anne Gibbs


The workshop was absolutely amazing with the artist giving us live feedback and talking to us about our current project and exploration.

I was able to reflect on my prints and decide straight away what approach would be best to continue and explore my theme.

I came out with a range of interesting prints and passion to explore the printmaking further.
Printing with Anne Gibbs




Next week we started to apply the learned techniques onto leather hard slabs of clay.
The ink consisted of printing medium mixed with stains.
I used some of my plaster shapes to print with and feed the 3D into 2D imagery.
Preparing for print workshop with Ann GibbsPrinting on clay with Anne Gibbs




Later in the Term I took an opportunity to get inducted into developing images onto silk screen and print through it.
I built on my imagery explored with Anne with architectural motives.


Exposing screen in print workshop




Printing with a screen










I ended up with a number of prints I could compile into a small book, book-band by me.
Screen Printing

Field: Future Generations Conference I

2 day intense conference involving interesting workshops with lecturers from other subjects and fields exploring different ideas in art and design, life and future.
Talks, discussion panels and keynotes.

To begin our interdisciplinary collaboration, we had a stimulating conference for the whole first year students.
It was hectic and full on 2 days, with talks and discussions that were not so good and relevant, not mentioning anything about the proposed Future Generation bill or ideas arising from it, and 4 workshops which were more in point and engaging.

The first lecture I chose on Utopia gave me a further insight into theme I was always interested in, a brief tale throughout history showing ideas about utopia and dystopia in art and culture.
From Sir Thomas More’s novel of island ‘Utopia’ in 1516 to Karl Marx’s in 1875 and communism’s equal distribution of work and property, and Lenin’s adaptation and application of the ideas to harsh, totalitarianism of Stalin: from ideas of utopia to reality of dystopia.

Classic books that explore the ideas further in detail: Brave New World 1932 or Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949.

Bauhaus in 1919-1923 as an art school, manifesting utopia through well designed objects and art, which can influence users, changing the world for better through art and design.
Same time in America Buckminster Fuller – an architect, mathematician, philosopher and inventor is trying to design cars, houses, pods and structures that can help as many people as possible with the fewest resources, expressed in single design of a dome.

Or another American, Walt Disney, expressing utopian, dream and child like world of happiness and dreams, which later transform into typical white, capitalist dream of happiness sustained by surplus of products. More land, resources, products, new, exciting. Going as far as the exploration of moon and space.
This utopian almost reality shifts into more dystopian reality of environmental issues, economic crash, debt an power struggles between nations.
Followed by unrests and protests against governments and uneven distribution of wealth, and shortly after oblivious movement of happiness, experimenting with drugs, free sex, freedom from capitalism.
Where does our future lies in now. It seems we still live in the same time, just more broad and interlinked society and world, with more differences and individuality, controlled with our changing perception of privacy, closer to dystopian control and surveillance  of the masses.
In the same time a movement to try to be more connected on individual and independent basis such as crowdfunding as well as the recent Turner Prize Winner of regeneration community project in Liverpool.
The future really relies on us to try and shift the world slightly towards the utopian or dystopian world, but one will never be sustained for long.

Kiln Care and Firing Induction

With our Technical Demonstrator Matt we were introduced to the ceramic kilns, how to take care of them and how to use them for firing out work, over two sessions.

Required reading

Kilns are one of the most essentials tools in ceramics (ignoring all the other, more primitive forms of firing), as it turns clay into ceramics – through quartz inversion which happens at 573 °C and becomes stable at about 870 °C (depending on including fluxes).

We were introduced to the booking system used in the department.
The arrangement of kiln furniture, always having three supports under kiln shelf, and on the same place as below.
Importance of cleaning or supporting glazed surfaces, so that glaze doesn’t run down and damages expensive kiln furniture.
Pyrometric cones which measure the heat-work – the effect of the heat on the glaze inside, rather than just set temperature in an instance. Their position. Health and safety when viewing them, and when operating the kiln.

Gradual firing of the manual test kilns:
* 10% on the dial for the initial 1 hour.
* 30% for another hour, at this stage the internal temperature will be approximately 400 °C
* 50% for another hour
* 70 % for an hour
* on 100% – check the cones.

Dampers (lids) 1. open until 600°C is reached – all the moisture is released and quartz inversion began (on bisque firing). On glaze firing the damper can be closed a bit earlier, at about 300°C.
2. Open when viewing the cone and the atmosphere inside is misty (never blow!)
3. Dumper should remain closed when cooling
4. Can be open at 300°C
5. Close the damper when opening the door very slightly, at 150°C

We received further documentation for reference when needed.
I also started reading The Electric Kiln by Harry Fraser from our list of required reading, do strengthen and deepen my knowledge which is at its complete basics right now, and for future reference.