Saturday, 3 October 2015

Last Firings, Upcoming Markets and Shows

Pots from last firings: I am focusing lately into plates bowls and cups, and more standard sizes. The pots are thrown in batches of 6/7 units, these batches my be subdivided again at the glazing stage. It all depends on the variations I am looking forward to try, to make for an order or what I need for the stock. These last firings I have been glazing with blues, greens, and yellow hues, there are some pots with brush work on glaze, stripes and subtle scribbling. Markets, fairs and exhibitions for this season. So far I will be taking part in: -W4STUDIO POTTERY 2015 Dates: 21st-22nd November -URBAN MAKERS EAST Venue: St. Paul’s Church, St. Stephen’s Road, Bow, London, E3 5JL Date: 5th December 2015 Trading Hours: 11:00am - 5:00pm -LONDON POTTERS ANNUAL SHOW Morley Gallery, 61 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7HT Dates: From 9th November - GLEBE ROAD OPEN STUDIOS 18 Glebe Road E8 4BD Dates to be confirmed -THE LONDON ARTISAN The Old Truman Brewery, London (Entrance on Elys Yard, Hanbury Street & Brick Lane) Date: 20 December

Monday, 4 May 2015

Bond Street London Clay Pieces

Last summer returning to London from Corunha I met, while waiting as my flight was overbooked, two nice lads. As we were chatting they told me that they were working on the new Tube extensions at Bond street. They told me there were lots of clay, among other things... They also had very interesting and informative stories, from the places they have been working at. We decided to keep in touch and they offered to get a couple of bags with clay for me to sample. The clay comes from something like 35 meters below ground. This Bond street clay had a different touch and texture than the samples from my two previous experiences, Camberwell and Stoke newington. The color is a dark greenish ochre, it has a very earthy texture, no stones, gravel, impurities to be noticed by eye or hand. The clay seems dry but I would say is not, like it is retaining some water and never dries totally, not even now, 5 months later. It does not absorb water well nor does it dissolute as other clays, crumbles of clay kept together separated from the other clay. As I wanted to use the clay immediately I decided to mix it with other clays, to be sure of its workability. On itself is like is somehow water resistant, the crumbles may resemble grog, but they are not fired and they do not have the same texture. In any case after wedging, most of it got finally mixed and its workability was good. In the mix I added almost a third of an smooth red earthenware and another third from a stoneware body. I wanted this mix to be able to stand to be fired to 1140 degrees Celsius. The first batch of pots was produced exactly prior to Christmas. I had in mind some specific pieces and some specific engobes to use that require a firing of 1140 degrees Celsius. This was the reason for mixing the London clay with other clays. My previous experiences showed me that in any case, workability, drying, and firing results would improve considerably with the addition of some help from commercially prepared clays. The first items done with this new mix containing Bond street Clay: I have drawings from last summer, some are from my mum's bonsai looking like it is trying to escape from its pot, in another one it is looking like bathing. These two creatures are influenced by those drawings. They are quite charming.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Bye Bye 2014

Excruciating November, and December, due to tight schedules and winter. I displayed work with the London Potters in their annual exhibition. The show was generous in styles, forms and shapes. Later on I came aware of the paradox of my liking for making figures while when wondering around in exhibitions I feel more attracted to pieces with glazes that camouflage the shapes that carry them. I still have many figurines waiting to materialize from my drawings. I started to make functional forms in order to play with glazes. But here too, the forms and repetition of pieces required for a sensible tableware production limits my glaze experimentation. During December I had many fairs and our annual Open Studios to set up. the cleaning, packaging, cataloging, setting up and down, the invigilating, accounting is finish now. It was like a long journey with ups and downs. I had time to think over the wares what to do next year, concerning tableware forms and colors. For the last firings I have started to brush on to the clear outside glazes, fluid almost patterns in a contrasting color. The last two forest came out, but just have a nice picture for one of them. Before continuing with the city/forest/island pieces series there is some things I want to do. I want to do another figure from the mixing of species series, the many shapes of matter, organically structured matter, metamorphosis, symbiosis.. I will add more to this in a future :)

Friday, 14 November 2014

Before winter.

The Christmas season is here. At the moment I am producing/finishing work, my last bisq firing is this week, after that I had two more glaze firings. One big for 1260 celsius, the other 1140celsius. The low temperature glaze is for the London Bond street, clay pots, mugs and bowls. The kilns are fully booked for this month, as it is 5 kilns for 15 or so people, all of us trying to get as much done as possible. I will be taking part this year in the following events: London Potters annual exhibition at the Morley Gallery the exhibition will take place at the Morley College, 61 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7HT. It will be open for two weeks starting on the 1st of December, private view 6-8pm, finishing the 16th of December. I will display three sculptural pieces, I have not totally decided which ones yet. One of the pieces a fossil forest is not completely finished, but i have not decided on that one yet.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Before Autunm

I have been working lately with a mix of red clays, including London clay, and stoneware clays, some with grog. The pieces were table ware and sculptural. For the sculptural pieces the clays were not mixed but applied to each other, so to achieve different surfaces. The effect on the sculptural pieces was not that visible, it did not bring a stark difference to the surface. Considering I was glazing it, is not a surprise. My conclusion is that at this point and for the style of work I am producing, is not necessary. With respect to the tableware I feel different. I always liked the feel and warmth of red earthenware, but I am not that keen on shiny glazing, in order to make them non porous. I used some engobes I developed in the past, if taken to the right temperature they seal the surface and leave a smooth texture touch. Some part of the pot can be left unglazed showing the dark sienna from the clay. I love those colors. As I am taking the clay higher than earthenware temperature the clay starts to vitrify and seals.
The blue tea pot is part of my display at the Cabinet of things at BLKN . The Cabinet of things is an initiative to promote the work from Hackney makers. Going back to the figurative pieces I have been working on lately, there are a couple of new community shells, skeletons? I am still not sure what they are. They are houses,castles, buildings and/or forests, including the terrain. They are cut out ecosystems, but they are fossils, leftover vitrified. The series keeps going on, at the moment I am finishing the modeling of two more. I am trying to make them not bigger than 20 cm diameter. I do want to make small things by now.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

2014 First months

After Christmas I have been struggling to find enough time to spend at the studio. My space is slightly chaotic. For a few months there has been more than the usual amount of us constantly using the space,it is full with things. In any case I am slowly starting to build up stock again. Plates are a major concern for me now so much that I am not even bothering lately to throw many bowls. My plan now is to throw a good amount of them, but only biscuit fire, so they are ready for the glaze firing, just waiting for the chosen glaze. I want to add more colors this year, and to improve shapes and glaze application. Most of the problems I have been experiencing with glazing are due to the the kilns over firing more than 40 degrees. It is not clear to me yet, even if i am using cones, if this is a regular thing and if it happens at all temperatures. At 1000C they under-fire and the temperature varies, is uneven inside the kiln. We have had the technicians coming around many keep doing times but the kilns keep doing the same. I have been considering to became a technician myself. The other thing I have been doing is getting some of my drawings into clay. They are similar to engravings, and I do not always get an amazing result out of the process. I need to make more and work more on them. These are some of the first results with just one firing. As usual i need to find a way of presenting them, of framing them in an attractive way.
In February I took part in one of those Art Shows, this time was Parallax at Chelsea Town Hall. I do not like how the Art market works but i have to exhibit my work, not for me but for the work. I feel i have some sort of duty towards it, I created it so I should give it the chance to be seen. The space was crowded with people and artworks, I could not help but to feel on the way and an incredible urge to escape took me over. I need to learn how to deal with this situations and how to have fun in this events. Something i enjoyed was the short conversations with some of the other artists and public attending. There were some lovely and interesting people there. Shame the space was so reduced that we could not properly engage, we had to keep moving so to allow people to circulate and to look at the works.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Christmas markets, economy and social skills

It is already 2014. Christmas season is over, but lucky me I still have a couple of days before engaging in my work routines. November and December were quite exhausting so I just collapsed when the holiday days came. This year I just compromised for two markets and our Open Studios for the Christmas season. I knew in advance I could not have that much work ready, and decided for just two market days. It was a good decision. As soon as I was back from China in November I had to start working immediately for Cheeky Tiki. Due to circumstances I had to do many extra hours for them which did not let me much free time to produce my own work. Luckily before leaving for China I had thrown and fired as many plates, mugs, tea pots and jugs as I could. They were only missing the glaze firing. I had work to fill three kilns and that was it. It was good enough as I share the studio and kilns with other 15 potters and the kilns were fully booked. this time I did not have as many problems with the glazes, but there were seconds. Open Studios was very calm and slow but there was visitors and sales. The pots and the figures I left out for viewing looked well together. My little corner in the studio was welcoming and full of interesting artifacts. This time I wanted to leave the space as close as possible to how it is when I am working there. I felt that it would be more interesting than attempting a shop display. This time I wanted to let the visitors to have a glimpse at what I am working on, not just my functional wares but my creative world. It was not just a sale. I did also kept myself at a distance. The reaction was good, I enjoyed looking at the expression on their faces. I had some of my figures , cities and houses out to see. People was interested and curious of the whats, whys and hows. I was ready and happy to talk to them and explain my ideas.
An interesting thing this year was to see people being very careful with their purchases. It happened in the three sites. This may be the result of three or four years of recession, of salaries not increasing at all for most of us while the living expenses keep rocketing up. But the Christmas show must go on. I have kept my prices almost the same for 3 years now. At the moment I prefer not to calculate to the penny how affordable this is to me. My rent has increased, the costs of materials and transport too, and the energy bills, and of course the stall prices. I explained all this to a costumer looking for a bargain, he and his girlfriend were trying to buy one mug and get another for free. When I asked how much money did they have with them, the answer was that they were just trying their luck. That infuriated me a bit, I explained to them I was a maker, not a middle person selling someone else wares and getting a profit on them. I told them of the hours of work I spent at my studio, to do the wares. I explained to them that I had to apply, submit images and descriptions of my work, more hours of work and expenses, in order to get a stall at that particular designer/makers fair. Last but not least I told them how much do I had to pay for the stall, which was not cheap. I also mentioned how tricky it is to transport my work, heavy and fragile ceramics, and the props to display and sell it. He bought the mug, she said nothing. Later on I was narrating the episode to my stall neighbor feeling I was to harsh with them. She told me I should have given my speech with a smile. I felt like I was an untamed beast with no social skills. My smile came back soon, and sales were very good that day. There was someone, at the end of the market day, who refused to take a few pounds change back saying I was pricing the wares very low. I thanked him then and I do it now, he gave a boost to my confidence. Some people were quite appreciative of my work, I want to thank them too. I hope they will come back during the year to order more wares.