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 .

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More clay & other re-starts

I had hoped to carry on working on the wheel last night , graduating beyond ” the next stage ” to actual pots even if only cylinders . However the replacement tutor did not want us to do anything new and I did not think my grazes were healed enough for another whole evening’s centreing as suggested ! So I began a handbuilt piece to review my skills and get the feel of their stoneware clay . I have usually made pots that were taller than they were wide , press-moulded plates or tiles so I thought I would try to do something wider than it was tall but using some favourite surface decoration . This -whitestglassplate123                          Photo on 2012-08-20 at 18.42

or this .

 EPSON scanner image      whpaisley076

Probably it will be the first – I will see next week when the basic shape should be a little drier and no longer likely to slump .

As to other re-starts . I call them this instead of New Year resolutions because the truth is that I’m always trying to start again on the perfectly organised & highly productive  life . Anyway artwise I must do something every day – I have far too many unfinished textile projects and unstarted ones I have been looking forward to . The unfinished ones are in previous posts . The unstarted ones are all variants on machine embroidered patchwork . I decided to give up felting years ago and recycle some of my huge collection of fabric oddments and no longer worn but undonateable clothes instead . This involves hours of unpicking . The good news is that I can unpick while watching TV or movies , the bad news is that I have temporarily lost/mislaid BOTH of my seam rippers !


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Clay & What is a Muslim artist ? revisited


EPSON scanner image

" Two red phases " A3 - collaged drawings , gold ink .

” Two red phases ” A3 – collaged drawings , gold ink .

I felt I just had to get back to clay , my 1st love . My pretext for going to a class instead of sharing/renting a studio ( scary/lonely ! ) was that I cannot throw a pot on the wheel and will never be able to teach ceramics , work as a ceramic technician or even reasonably call myself a potter until I have this basic skill . For many that is simply what ceramics or pottery is . As soon as I decided I started to dream about it !

So last night I went to my 1st class at Leeds College of Art , an educational institution in Leeds I had not previously sampled . Founded in 1846  it can claim both Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth as former students – quite something ! The ceramic facilities are not as extensive as at Harrogate College or the Swarthmore Centre ( also Leeds ) but fine . I was a bit worried that there were only 2 wheels but in the event it was OK . The tutor had 3 of us taking turns at centreing ( one time when the US spelling would be better ! ) . She had a particular method which we had to practise ; each time we got the clay centred we had to knock it askew and re-centre until we got the feel of the difference and could do it immediately every time . Because one of the 3 of us started a handbuilt piece I ended up centreing for nearly an hour , getting a bit grazed ! She showed me the next stage and I had time to have a go before clearing up & washing down . I should now be able to practise that next week – depending on the numbers queueing up for the wheels .

While rushing up and down the corridors trying to find Workshop G52 in time I passed student noticeboards including the one for photography/graphics . It had ‘je suis Charlie’ written across in red felt tip . My immediate reaction was fear – and I nearly apologised for that too . Here follows , I hope , some sort of explanation :

I am currently on Facebook , LinkedIn and Google+ . Before that I had emails and followed blogs , I can’t remember offhand when I started this one . Being a feminist , a Muslim & mixed race might be seen as asking for trouble on or offline and if you believe in luck I’ve been lucky . Here I am still alive & with my citizenship intact and no criminal record . I should be grateful . However all 3 statuses have caused me increasing insecurity over the last 3 or 4 decades accelerating just lately . I posted on Facebook that I might give up looking at it because of the anti-Muslim hatred which I find so difficult to deal with . I don’t want to insult anyone , certainly not my friends so perhaps I can give a list of incidents .

1  A few years ago was an anniversary of some of the worst massacres of Bosnian Muslims . I posted reminders with photos . I was surprised that not a single Fb friend responded , particularly since , at the time of the original incidents , journalists reported that most were not practising Muslims . I presumed this meant that they were ‘innocent’ and thus mourn-able .

2  I was invited to join a Facebook group by a friend and accepted . Very shortly after that I was invited to be an admin . Due to Facebook’s vagaries I was notified of an admin conversation which I could read on Messages without being able to participate which was fine until they were discussing whether Muslims could be admitted . I was able to confess to being this to one of them afterwards and was reassured that no one would think I was there under false pretences ! However I don’t think another would get the chance , at least 2 people with Muslim names have been rejected . On the other hand one of the members has Timeline posts about how Muslims really worship Satan although we don’t realise it – and this can be proved from the Bible .

3  One Facebook friend posted a photo apparently of MacDonald’s fish fillets in cartons marked ‘halal’ . Initially I found this amusing . ( I should explain that ‘halal’ means permitted and ‘haram’ forbidden . ) All from the sea “is game for you” says the Qur’an – so all fish is halal and there is no need of any label . Then I saw what the friend had written . She was angry with MacDonald’s for providing halal food and had checked her local butcher to make sure he was NOT stocking halal meat . She did not want to eat halal food inadvertently and advised all her friends to check likewise . I did not find this funny at all . The impression I got was that halal food was some kind of spiritual poison for her . Poor woman she eats halal food all the time without knowing it ; fruit , vegetables , milk , eggs …..all permitted ! I didn’t try to joke about it then , I simply blocked the site she had got the photo from…. and worried .

4  Another Facebook friend shared a post from an anti-Muslim blog ( I mean they were collecting money for the war against Islam ) where the article was written by a Christian with the handle ‘halalporkbutcher’ . I reacted badly to this and got into an argument . I felt vaguely guilty but 2 real ( not virtual ) friends have been deeply shocked by the handle . One is an Evangelical Protestant teacher married to a pastor – both were previously missionaries – and the other is a secular Jew . Neither could understand why I continued the contact . At the time I sought advice from a largely Pagan open spiritual group on Facebook and received nothing but kindness & concern . The good advice – to protect myself – I didn’t take . I was then furiously messaged by this person who denied that the blog was Muslim hating , apparently it was merely truthful . I thought we had some useful debate then and I tried to explain various things . However the offensive , ignorant posts from nasty  blogs continued howevermuch I answered with reason and information – which was largely ignored  . I remember asking why I had been friended at all if all Muslims were so hated and was told not to take it personally , that I appeared to be a nice person and that the claim was about some Muslims , not all . The claims , incidentally , were always about ‘Muslims’ – unqualified in any way . Yes I did unfollow , eventually .

5  Britain First’s Facebook Page has been reported to the police when they advocated violence against a named woman giving out her address . And – I shouldn’t have to say this – she was white and non-Muslim . ( Apparently she shouted “Racist !” at Nigel Farage on TV . ) For Muslims they advocate forcible abortion , strangling at birth , sterilization and castration , and killing generally . If this sounds familiar – yes , they think Hitler had the right idea , he just picked the wrong religion . None of this is apparently enough to get the Page shut down for hate speech . Because free speech is sacred according to Zuckerburg , except perhaps for Another Angry Voice whose non-violent left wing Page has been warned . And Tom never threatened anybody . ( Update : apparently Tom was targeted by scammers wanting to take over his Page and the thousands of ‘likes’ . )

6  I’ve posted quite a few articles about the Paris killings since last week .  My family and 2 of my friends have responded . So 4 out of 117 contacts have read anything . Am I so scary evil  or is it just my co-religionists who can’t be trusted to write anything worthwhile ?

This was supposed to lead up to thoughts on how to be a Muslim artist . At the moment it is pretty hard just to be – so many quite literally wish us all dead .However I can see that my hopes as shown on my ‘About me” page display the most astonishing naivety . Anyway Kathy , my friend this was the reply promised !


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2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 490 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 8 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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2nd all day painting workshop

It was yesterday which unfortunately was quite warm and since the venue was a decommissioned school , actually hotter inside than out . Fortunately no one had brought fish to paint as suggested last week !

First we had to paste torn up newspaper onto watercolour paper without having an accurate idea what it would be for – she kept talking about mixed media but seemed to mean painting on torn collage . Then while it was drying we had to draw with ink using either pens or twigs and experiment with dropping water on etc. There was actually a special store of twigs for this in the cupboard . Apparently Van Gogh used twigs from the roadside . It did occur to me that this was perhaps a misunderstood practice – maybe he had lost or broken a pen ? He never had a lot of money and probably prioritized oil paints . This is oddly reverential & specific – are Winsor & Newton going to bring out specially twig shaped ink instruments ?

ink+wash1 ink+wash2  I like using ink but as you can see once dry the bits with water dropped on them don’t look good – we should have made videos of the ink in water and water in ink since it was fascinating to watch the feathery spread . I did a watercolour wash afterwards which I like & will use in future .

Then it was oil pastels which I dislike . We had to explore what they would do and then use them along with acrylic paint which I also dislike on the newspaper pasted sheet of paper , the subject being what we had brought which we wanted to paint . I’d brought some costume jewellery which was entirely the wrong choice . But at least we were allowed to use watercolour instead of acrylics . I was quite maddened by the newsprint which showed through paint AND oil pastel . Eventually I cut up the newspaper horror and the oil pastel experiment/study and pasted them on a graduated wash . I’m not sure about this –

oillpastelcollage  it looks like Easter eggs ! But it’s still an improvement .

It turned out that the idea had been to show the fish as if it were just unwrapped from the newspaper ! Among other things it has been decades since any food in the UK has been legally sold wrapped in newspaper – and isn’t this a rather literal use of mixed media ? I had been thinking of Theresa Lydia Joseph’s work , she paints in oils with the paper used to provide surface interest .

So I have been even stroppier than last week ! I felt that I was possibly a bit old & experienced to be doing a beginner’s Art course focusing on different drawing media all of which I have used before . I had been told initially that it was painting , then painting & drawing and it became drawing with a little painting at the end – and no one said it was for beginners .

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