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 .


About rukshanaafia

Ceramic & textile artist
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4 Responses to Clay at Leeds College of Art ( week 3 ) & textiles at home

  1. kathy bergen says:

    I did not know that terra cotta clay was so difficult…I had been thinking of trying some. Maybe not. I love the bowls also because of the inside and outside designs. And I would never use nylon stockings…they tear too easily. If you want a stretchy material…there are many stretchy fabrics and most stores with fabrics can tell you where to find them. I am trying to find stockinette to cover a heavy needle-sculpted face. I hope you will be posting your fabric designs here! Lookking forward to your future blogs!

  2. rukshanaafia says:

    Well I don’t like it but many do . Clay has many characteristics that have led to its worldwide use at an early stage of human material culture – the most important being its plasticity ie ability to be manipulated into a shape and keep it . Terracotta ( red earthenware ) is excellent for small scale modelling and is also the world’s most common and hence cheapest clay . To get lighter colours , a harder result after firing or to make bigger sculptures which will dry without ; a) collapsing or b) cracking you need clay which is rougher in texture and has less oxides in it which bring down the firing temperature . That leads to the stoneware clays which I prefer . I do also like a particular high firing white earthenware which has added fine grog in it (ground previously fired clay) and which I used for all my MA work .
    I don’t like nylon stockings either and was plaiting them really to get rid of them . I’ve used all the pink and purple ones now and can’t face the more boring colours ! I think I posted a work-in-progress photo last year some time .

  3. kathy bergen says:

    Then maybe I will try terra cotta..I want to take a pottery class…of course, you have to use what the teacher wants you to. I an interested in creating creatures on mugs, etc…or to try my hand at it. Maybe flower pots. I will look through your blog.

  4. rukshanaafia says:

    You may well be introduced to terracotta ; it is very often used in beginners’ classes for modelling . I remember making a duck and a cat when I was 8 years old – my very first clay works !
    Good luck .

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