The Pot of DOOM

by frogpondsrock on December 20, 2014

in ceramics

*This blog post opens with the sound of violins playing in the background as our hero has a bit of a complain.

Making a big pot is hard work, the bags of clay are heavy and the repetitive action of scrinching the clay into coils makes my wrist ache, reminding me that it is still cactus fuctus. The base of my thumb is tender to the touch from all the smoothing and pinching and smoothing again of the clay, and I fall into bed at eight pm completely exhausted.

This pot is 55 cm high, it is Keane’s Raku Gold, and it does not have a base.

suppository of wisdom 1

Here I am supporting the wet pot on a cushion while I check that the base is still as nice and tidy as it was when I began. Suppository on its side

I painted the pot with a white slip I made from Keane’s White Raku. I had been using Walkers ten slip but I had some issues with blistering after bisque, which I wasn’t sure if it was a compatibility issue or if the body had been a bit too dry to absorb the slip. It was easy enough to make a different slip, removing the potential problems of future blistering there, I also made sure the body was still quite wet when I painted on the slip. If I still get blistering, I will just accept it as one of those things and decorate accordingly so that the popped blisters become a feature rather than a disaster.

suppository of wisdom

I have coloured the pot with a 50/50 Gerstley Borate and commercial body stain mix. The green spots are underglaze colour, the blue stripey bits are also underglazes. This is an instagram photo and the colours are a tad softer in real life. Since returning from Kalgoorlie I am so thirsty for colour that there is a real risk that all my pots will be psychedelic orange.

suppository 2

detail of suppository

Once I had finished with the decoration I wrapped the pot in plastic and let it dry slowly out of the way. So far it is drying nicely and everything is on track for May.

BUT.

Every step of the process, when you are making big pots is fraught with potential disaster. I am very conscious of how little time I actually have to pull together the body of work I need for the, “Mud And Ink” show in THE LONG GALLERY next May. *hyperventilates a bit*

So, I thought that maybe a long narrow oval pot might be a bit quicker to make than a round pot. HA! obviously I missed this bit in physics or geometry or whatever bit of mathematical trickery it was in school where we learned that ovals are actually longer than circles. Mine are anyway, don’t argue just * CUE MOAR VIOLINS.

It all started well enough.

At the end of day one, I had a nice pot that looked a bit mountainey and landscapey. I popped this up on instagram and a friend suggested that maybe I should stop here. I thought about it but decided that it needed a bit more height. I wrapped it up for the night and came back the next day. It was at this point that I decided that I needed to put a bottom in the pot if I was going to have it as an open form. Previously the need for a bottom wasn’t necessary as I was going to have this as an enclosed form. It is never a good idea to change directions halfway through the making of a large pot.

work in progress

I am easily influenced as I work, music plays an important part in my studio and often the music I am listening to will shape the pot I am making. I was listening to Radio National’s, “All in the Mind” programme as I worked on the pot the next day and thinking deep thoughts about mental illnesses and the impacts of incarceration on the human spirit. I was no longer thinking happy thoughts about about mountains and escarpments, I was thinking about what an asshat Morrison is and how appalling our treatment of refugees is and so the mountain began to morph into a boat.

I still wasn’t sure where I was going and the coils I was using were quite thin, so the pot was taking a long time to grow. A really long time. It was at about this stage that the making turned into a hard slog, I like to work hard and fast, immersing myself in the intuitive moment of making. This is why I do not throw, I dislike coming back to a form and trying to capture the relationship I had with the clay for a second time, it rarely works as the energy changes and so the pot changes.

morphing into a boat

By the end of the third day in the studio, I was done. I was so pleased to be done as everything about this pot had been hard work. I quickly threw on some slip, took an arty shot for Instagram and all I needed to do to be completely finished was add some colour the following day.

pot in progress

The next day I coloured the pot, wandered back down to the house to do things and FORGOT to go back up to the studio to wrap it in plastic to slow down the drying.

red pot

A friend contacted me asking if I would like to contribute some work  for a stall she was curating for the Mona Market in January. With some relief I spent all of Saturday making small skull finger spoons in Southern Ice porcelain. It was nice to be working with small pieces of porcelain, rather than giant lumps of heavily grogged clay.

These spoons, once they are fired will be a limited edition run and will only be available at Mona on the 17th of January, all things going to plan of course.

skull spoons

 

I left the pot alone for a couple of days, as the weather was grey and drizzly as only December in Tasmania can be, I didn’t cover it in plastic as it was drying slowly enough.

Tuesday was Happy Minion Day, and I spent the afternoon ignoring the pot and making small things and talking a lot with Molly my gorgeous apprentice/minion/friend. Molly has a website here, Scout Ceramics.

I should have coloured the inside of the pot then but I just couldn’t be bothered, there was a storm pending, Monty the pup was being a dick, and the aftermath of the deaths at the Lindt cafe had left me so flat. Our Prime Minister is such a tool, it embarrasses me every time he opens his mouth.

In hindsight, I should have just left the pot alone, so it stayed as a nice pot instead of morphing into the POT OF DOOM.

In all the photos above, you can see that the P.O.D is sitting on a piece of cement sheet on top of a support board. I lifted the P.O.D from its support and turned it upside down to shake out the crumbs as the neck was a bit too narrow to fit my arm inside. I put the P.O.D down onto the cement sheet onto the table and began to paint the inside with a 50/50 Gerstley Borate black colour mix but I was unable to see fully inside and so I moved it down onto a lower banding wheel. NOT THINKING that the cement sheet would flex and put extra stress on the P.O.D.

I finished painting on the colourant and moved the P.O.D back onto the table to get it out of my way, inadvertently flexing the cement sheet again.

Five minutes later I noticed the cracks.

Bugger.

crackpot

Bugger, bugger, BUGGER.

I gave the cracks a bit of a poke and the top one wobbled alarmingly.

The P.O.D was a little bit fucked.

So I did what any self respecting ceramist would do, I took a photo, wacked it up onto instagram and came down to the house for a bit of a public sulk.

Ten minutes of public whingeing later and I had a plan.

I poked a knife into the cracks and wiggled it around a bit and pulled the broken bits off in sections.

Now the pot is back almost exactly where I had been a week ago, when my friend suggested I stop.

No longer the POT OF DOOM, though that is probably what I shall title it anyway.

 

repaired pot

On the upside, and as I am mostly an optimist there are always multiple upsides, I learned a lot from this pot. Lessons that I already knew well, were reinforced and probably just in the nick of time as things are bound to get super manic around here the closer I get to the deadline for Mud and Ink.

I have kept the top bits of the pot to use as test tiles. I bought a cobalt free black bodystain yesterday and I shall mix some of that up with Gerstley Borate to see what happens and I will add some cobalt ox to the stain as well to do a counter test. I was lucky enough to receive a very VERY good ceramic education and as a result I can not let a chance to pop some tests in the kiln go by.

I think I will leave the big pots alone until January now and give my hands a bit of a rest.

Today I will be making BAT WINGS. Hurrah.

I have all the fun.

 

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Understorey Dreaming

by frogpondsrock on December 17, 2014

in blogging,Distractions galore!

I saw a stick on the gravel road ahead of me the other morning and when the stick noticed me it wriggled back into the bush.

The snake was my gift from the universe and it was a happy walk.

snake shadows

Words are tricky things, slippery and elusive. I had a head full of beautiful words yesterday, they were floating around in nice neat lines ready to fly out my fingertips onto the page. My walk with Monty had been a lovely daydream, he was so well behaved that I was able to order my thoughts into coherent passages of prose and I was feeling the urge to write.

Once inside the house, the phone rang, shattering the spell and all my words were lost.

I am trying to rekindle the feeling now but the words are not dancing in my head at all.

My minion Molly, asked me what I get from the blog. I gave her a long and convoluted answer and told her some of your stories.

But when it really comes down to it, the answer is solace. I get solace from my blog.

It is a place to turn my daydreams into reality as well as a place to order my thoughts.

Thank you for reading

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I have been sharing more and more on facebook and twitter via my instagram account and less here on the blog.

It is easier you see, and quicker.

I can take a photo on my phone, upload it to my instagram account and auto share to facebook and twitter.

Tadaa, instant conversation.

My computer is dying, my puppy has grown up into a leaping full size mischievous Labrador who needs lot of attention otherwise he eats all the things.

Please feel free to find me on all my other online spaces.

Here are some of the recent photos I have been sharing elsewhere.

Monty was freaked out by his first thunderstorm and decided that the safest place in the house was in the chair with me.

Here he looks like the goofy Labrador he is.

Monty in my chair

Here he is about to morph into his hyper Kelpie self just before we go for a walkwalkwalkWALK

monty bought copy

Kalgoorlie Dreaming.

Water views from the train. There was a bit of rain while I was in Kalgoorlie, some fabulous storms as well. I was lucky to see all the water and the orange has seeped into my soul.

train dreams 1

water from the kalgoorlie train

Bitter Rose.

The making and exhibiting of Bitter Rose was cathartic, I included a very appropriate Anne Lamott quote in my artist statement

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

I have taken this quote to heart and I have a nice little trio of ugly sculptures planned for my show in the Long Gallery next year.

Bitter Rose copy

bitter Rose rear

Bees, native and introduced.

native bee copy

Honey Bee

Dragons by the water.

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And I have been doing LOTS of this.

walking the dogs

That is all from me for the moment, I will try and be more present here on the blog but as the jagged edges of my grief recede, I feel the need to write less often as the words in my head are not burning my heart.

I hope you all have a fine time during the December madness and you either enjoy the festivities fully or you cope as best you can.

Love x

 

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To Kalgoorlie and Back again (part two)

by frogpondsrock on December 6, 2014

in ceramics

More than a month between updates is far too long and I apologise for my blog absence to those of you who read here regularly. There are lots of reasons for my neglect of the blog. Monty the super mischief pup is one of the main reasons I am not writing, as it is rare that I get to sit down for extended periods of time. On the upside I am getting fit and when I was in Sydney earlier this month  I was thankful for my Monty induced fitness as I traipsed all over the city with nary a puff.

Now back to the awesomeness that was Kalgoorlie.

I had booked a tour to Lake Ballard on my first day in Kalgoorlie but due to insufficient numbers the tour was cancelled, so I had a free day in the town with nothing planned.

Nicholas, the absolutely fabulous general manager of Rydges Kalgoorlie took me on a whirlwind tour of the town so that I could get my bearings.

The Super Pit, the open cut goldmine is huge, absolutely, awesomely huge and as I stood in the searing heat peering down into the mine I was astounded by the scale of the operation. We are an incredibly destructive species and this industrial scale destruction of the land just boggled my mind.

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But even as I knew I was seeing our doom writ large in the rocks before me, I was totally captivated by the colour and layering of the mine face.

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colours of the rock face inside the super pit in kalgoorlie copy

The colours  and textures of the super pit have started to appear in my post Kalgoorlie work.

textured platter

super pit

Nicholas dropped me off back in the town and I organised to go on a two and a half hour bus tour of the mine later that day.

It was early still, only about ten am and the heat was already pretty fierce. I can see how people die in this country, it is a hard place with no water of its own, all the water for the town comes from Perth, 600 kilometres away.

I had a bit of a sightsee around the town but the heat had really nailed me and so I caught a cab back to the air conditioned comfort of the hotel. The cab drivers all had interesting stories to share and I met recent arrivals to this country who were doctors, engineers or IT specialists in their own countries, who were all driving cabs here in Australia while they re did their qualifications. All it seemed had come to the goldfields to seek their fortunes and ended up driving cabs.

That was my modus operandi for most of my stay in Kalgoorlie, as the heat made my dodgy leg swell up alarmingly. I would do some things, then cab back to Rydges, where I spent a bit of time in my room with my leg up on cushions, instagramming all the things I had seen.

This is the yarn bombing on Egan Street.

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yarn bombing on Egan St

yarn bombing

This is one of the many fascination buildings on the main street.

butcher shop facade

The people of Kalgoorlie were super friendly and an example was a lady I was chatting with in a coffee shop, who drove me to my hotel rather than letting me catch a cab. That sort of small town friendliness is lovely and reminded me very much of home.

The tour of the Super Pit was amazing and depressing at the same time. The potter in me just could not get enough of the colours of the dirt, so many shades of red and orange, such beautiful layering in the sides of the mine, such a massive industrialised destruction.

In this photo you can see the spot of emerald green down the bottom, that is water. Apparently it is the first time the mine has had water in it, as in January this year Kalgoorlie received a years supply of rain in one day.

kalgoorlie Super Pit.

Kalgoorlie super pit

This is one of the artworks in the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Art Prize. Ephemeral Prosperity by Patrica Rose.

Ephemeral Prosperity. Patricia Rose.

I started to write this a fortnight ago and became distracted. I have lost my thread so I shall press publish and wander off back up to the studio in search of all the oranges and reds.

 

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To Kalgoorlie and back again. (part one)

by frogpondsrock on October 27, 2014

in Arty stuff..

Thank you for helping me go to the Regional Arts Summit in Kalgoorlie it was an immensely valuable and rewarding experience for me, both professionally and personally.

The dogs have not left my side since I returned home and I have had a doggy guard of honour shadowing my every step.

Harry and Monty

I have returned home with the colours of the desert imprinted into my psyche. Such glorious reds and oranges, such fierce heat, such a powerful landscape. It will be interesting to see what happens with the work in the coming weeks. I also have a dose of post Kalgoorlie lethargy and it has been hard to get motivated.

On the Tuesday I flew into Perth with five hours between flights and felt like I had walked into a wall of heat. The gorgeous Trae who writes the fabulous blog, “Where’s My Glow” picked me up at the airport and when I mentioned that I was melting, Trae just smiled sympathetically and cranked up the air conditioning a notch. It didn’t help that I was dressed for the Tasmanian spring chill, with layers and pirate socks. It seemed quite surreal that before I left home, I had been throwing buckets of water onto the windshield of the car to remove a thick frost. After shedding my shoes and socks in the car park while Trae pretended not to notice my mismatched crocs, (though I did see her have a little shudder) we walked together in the fiery sunshine to see the Boab Tree in Kings Park. I would have liked to touch this tree, to feel its pulse, but the fence was a little bit too high for easy leaping. Plus it was far too HOT for any kind of leaping.

boab tree

Five hours is not very long when you are on a flying visit and so after a shared lunch and a quick look at Freemantle I was back at the airport.

Academically I knew that Australia was a big country but it wasn’t until I flew over Western Australia that the vastness of this land really sunk in.

I take photo after photo when I am in a plane and then I sketch/scribble like mad in my visual diary because the inspiration comes thick and fast. Imagine how fantastic it would be to create a piece of art over hectares or even over miles of land.

So many wonderful patterns in the landscape, I must try and get my hands on some aerial photos of Western Australia, especially the area around the salt lakes as the colours and textures are just so fantastic.

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By the time I arrived in Kalgoorlie, I had been travelling for eighteen hours and I was starting to hallucinate a bit with tiredness. When I am really super tired I keep on getting glimpses of a black dog out of the corner of my eye and my hallucinatory black dog had been shadowing me for a few hours now.

I was absolutely amazed to see roses growing in a brick planter box in front of the airport building, bright colourful roses just seemed so out of place and not what I was expecting at all.I don’t know what I had been expecting, cacti maybe or some other dusty native? The other thing I wasn’t expecting was how nice Kalgoorlie smelled. There was a lovely perfume floating on the air that just smelled so nice, later on, through the power of instagram I found out that it was a wall full of gardenias that I could smell. Gardenia and Jasmine are two of my favourite flower fragrances so I wished I had seen the gardenias.

I literally fell out of my taxi at the hotel and the sign on the door said it all.

Rydges Kalgoorlie

I have written nearly 700 words and I have only just arrived in Kalgoorlie. If I keep on going like this, the post will be as long as a novel. So I will press publish now before the writing becomes unwieldy and I will start on part two in the morning.

Also WordPress must be really drunk because the comment form is still all wonky.

 

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Kalgoorlie Ahoy.

October 13, 2014

Can you use ahoy in relation to an inland adventure? Today is my final day in cooldom. I am sitting here with the sunshine streaming in through the window with the heater next to me. It is going to be a nice day but it is chilly this morning. This is the forecast for Hobart […]

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Another Pozible Update. Titled, “THERE IS NO PLAN B”

October 6, 2014

Well, there is a plan B really. BUT what sort of a dramatic title would that be? Plan B mostly consists  of begging, moaning, wailing and excessive use of hyperbole. I published an update on my Pozible page a few days ago but because I do not have access to the back end of the […]

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Only White Food Please.

September 27, 2014

For the past few months I have been seeing a psychologist, the lovely Miriam, who normally works with children with Autism. Luckily for me Miriam found room for me and we have been having some very nice chats indeed. Based on observations, clinical interview, questionnairre data and corroborative information from Kim’s daughter Veronica, I am […]

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Gorgeous Luxury Soap.

September 17, 2014

Each Birthday, Christmas, or Mothers day I tell anyone who will listen, to buy me handmade soap. I do not want things or chocolate I always want handmade soap. Or good quality incense, I am always searching for a good Sandalwood or Amber incense. Now I have no idea what to ask for as gifts […]

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No time for distractions. Oh look, shiny…

August 30, 2014

Winter is never the best time in the studio, it is cold and the work dries very, very slowly. My slipcasting moulds take longer to dry out and everything slows down exponentially. Also, working through the Tasmanian winter makes my fingers feel like they are going to fall off. I am counting down the days […]

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