Last pottery class before Easter

Well , I couldn’t glaze anything because one piece was still in the kiln and the other was yet to go in . Instead I worked on the 2nd coiled pot I had started while waiting for the wheel last week .dblespout

This is a sketch – the top is an idealized version , the bottom shows the lines of scraping with a hacksaw blade . It’s another irregular pot inspired by pre-Columbian work which I used to do so much of about 20 years ago . Like this –


stgrdrgn86- or this stirrup pot . Actually it was going to be another stirrup pot but the proportions were wrong particularly once I had started the necks . So it will be another multiple necker like

whseacr050                or         stbrsea86

Since the clay is like the left hand one I was trying to get the shape as refined – hence the hacksaw blade . It is still a bit heavy but I will be decorating it differently , probably sgraffito through slip . Anyway I will see at the next class after Easter .

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Condor & the Mole

Condor & the Mole

Leeds City Art Gallery currently has a touring exhibition until May 24 from the Arts Council collection , “One Day , Something Happens : Paintings of People” . That is a quote by Sickert some of whose work was on display alongside other 20c painters , more recent acquisitions and non-paintings . Some of these were also selected from Leeds’ collections . The point was , I think , the curator . I won’t give the name because I wasn’t impressed . Painters I usually like ( eg Hockney ) were represented with boring to awful stuff . I had never realised Sickert could do such muddy portraits – relieved only by reddish bits or lumpiness on the faces .

The painting above was by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (born London 1977) . It’s the one I remember best from my quick look round and I will definitely go back to spend more time in front of it . It is big with the 2 girls being life size or almost . What I liked about it was how English the beach and sky looked . That kind of uninteresting grey is common the year round and doesn’t have much to do with temperature or even time of day . The girls are black because the painter is of Ghanaian ancestry .

As to my pottery class I have no pictures because my new shiny mobile ‘phone had not yet been delivered (not that I can operate the camera on it yet) . I was not able to try and throw more bowls because both wheels were occupied at first so I started yet another coil pot before being able to turn last week’s bowl . I then lost one of my tools while slip decorating it in a great hurry at the end . Next week is the last week of this term . I have signed up for the next set of classes after Easter since we will not be moving until the summer . I hope I can become more consistent on the wheel and get to grips with my new shiny things (I also have a new computer) beforehand to document same .

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More clay – both techniques

Last night my coil pot became so dry while doing the last bits of fiddling on it that I had to stop and acknowledge that it needed final drying and firing before I could do any more . Thank goodness because I am an inveterate fiddler ! Here are some more sketches , unfortunately in biro , of the piece .

pota,bpotcThe last sketch is a view from above .

Having finished this and done prayers I didn’t have much time left but thought I could practise some centreing with the white stoneware clay . To my surprise I found it easier to the hand than the red earthenware we were taught on originally . Having centred it it seemed a waste not to try something so I made a bowl AND successfully cut it off the wheel head etc . I do like the way the white stoneware doesn’t slump all over the place when pulling out and up . I kept thinking I must have pulled it off-centre but if so it went back easily enough . Perhaps because I am so much more used to a grogged clay I had more confidence or maybe there is less complete and utter difference between hand building and wheel throwing than I had been led to believe ? In which case using a preferred clay will have a noticeable advantage .

I may try and make more bowls next week after turning this one . Everything I want to make is bowl-shaped eg teacups (with saucers) . I know Daniel Rhodes says all shapes are based on cylinders but suppose you don’t like mugs or most tall things with handles ? Yes ! – Donald found some of my textbooks as well as my modelling tools . As usual , in a safe place which I didn’t remember later……

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Another exhibition ; sculpture mostly

Last Wednesday I went to visit a friend in Grimsby and there was a retrospective exhibition of Harold Gosney’s drawings , paintings and sculpture ‘My Life as an Artist : The last 60 Years’ on in part of the Grimsby Heritage Fishing Centre .


The metal version on the right was in the tiny foyer and very striking . The wooden one on the left was actually the former he made for the metal pieces to be beaten on for the shape . The exhibition upstairs had mostly much smaller pieces and a lot of his preliminary drawings and studies .


He describes himself as a figurative sculptor – usually this means the human figure only but he really does have a thing about horses . ‘The Four horsemen of the Apocalypse’ may have been a full scale commission – I am not sure – but there were several small versions on show including one in wood which looked to me as if it should have had a handle to make the galloping horses go up and down . I preferred his preparatory drawings and paintings to the 3d pieces in this case .


His connection with Grimsby is that he studied at Grimsby School of Art 1954-56 before going to the Slade in London and returned to teach there 1960-92 . He now lives and works in York – I realised I recognized his name from York City Art Gallery where he has work . He became a sculptor because he had to teach it and so researched materials and techniques – actually trying them out ! I do like someone who takes processes seriously .

This last week I have also had to write an essay on contemporary Art ( you know the sort of thing – is it Art ? & other tedious questions ) for my Spanish class which I wrote from the artist’s point of view . I had some fun translating a quotation of his which I love , “…..since all my work is ‘hand-made’ , I have always tried to incorporate good craftsmanship” .

In case you hadn’t noticed I admire his work tremendously and definitely recommend the exhibition if you can get to it . It is on until 2 August 2015 at the Muriel Barker Gallery , Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre , Alexandra Dock , Grimsby .


Posted in Drawings, Figurative sculpture images, other artists, paintings, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

More clay at LCA eventually

handbuilt white stoneware pot with curls-sketches

handbuilt white stoneware pot with curls-sketches

I still don’t have a mobile ‘phone so cannot do work-in-progress ‘photos as others do in the studio – although I do find it a bit odd , frankly . These are some pencil sketches I did a few minutes ago .

I didn’t do any work on the wheel last night because my handbuilt pot was leather hard and needed to be worked on . (I was off for 2 weeks with ‘flu and then last week was half term so there were no classes .) I find I am out of practice ; I should have been able to make the whole thing larger and more like the 1st shape sketched . The applied coils have also not been fine enough and then I have set up problems for myself with the placement . Still , re-discovering how I solved problems before has been fun and I am still faster than the other students , even with wedging 1st and rolling my own coils ! What is maddening is not being able to find my own tools – they must be somewhere in the house – the ones available to the class are just not quite right . I can’t find my textbooks either……..

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Hors de combat

" Blue Knights 5 " . A3 - collaged prints + digital landscape , watercolour crayons , felt tips .

” Blue Knights 5 ” . A3 – collaged prints + digital landscape , watercolour crayons , felt tips .

I only put that in because my mother said it sounded as if you had fallen off a horse !

I’m recovering from a chest infection so have not been to the pottery class nor done any textile work since Saturday am . I finished pinning & tacking the 2nd synthetic piece ready for embroidery in the next morning light but found as the day wore on that I was getting obssessed with it and it was getting distorted in my mind . This should have told me I was running a fever ! Luckily I didn’t get it out again to re-do .

My old pottery (and art) teacher from secondary school rang us up and gave me the obvious advice about my grazes from centreing – not enough lubrication ! I do have this tendency to chuck lots of water on at first which is immediately flung off , then I concentrate on the left hand & arm . Of course it should be ‘little and often’ with the right hand however fast the centreing is . 2 hands + a machine takes some integrating .

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Clay at Leeds College of Art ( week 3 ) & textiles at home


Fine white stoneware plates

Fine white stoneware plates

Actually the handbuilt piece I am working on is in a fine stoneware like the above plates . It is not probably suitable for large sculptural pieces but is used for wheelwork so I should be able to alternate techniques with it instead of using the terracotta on the wheel . I dislike red clay bodies partly because the red iron oxide contaminates everything in sight and takes a week to get rid of from under the fingernails – but I produced enough boring short cylinders with it on Tuesday night to be told I don’t have to use it on the wheel anymore . However I’m having real trouble with grazing my left hand centreing . If I can only get the right calluses in place…. I think my knuckles are a bit prominent with having the Malay crooked fingers so the line of the left side of my left hand isn’t very straight . All the grazes which had healed opened up again and I got a new one . I must read some of my textbooks (Daniel Rhodes , Phil Rogers) for hints on getting better & faster on the wheel .

I really want to make bowls in many sizes because they are the one shape which can be decorated on both the inside and outside surfaces equally . I fancy something along the lines of –

Fine white stoneware plate - cobalt slip

Fine white stoneware plate – cobalt slip                                                                                                                        

Blue is a good colour on domestic ware because so few foods are truly blue !

Now to textiles : I have been working on 2 things using synthetic fabrics –  I like textile pieces to be washable so the fibres must all be from the same group – one needs only some way of backing it so that it will hang without stretching (note to self never to use nylon stockings for anything again) , the other has got to the end of the unpicking stage , hooray !

More next week , maybe even earlier .

Posted in ceramics, Textiles | 4 Comments