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.