As part of my wish to explore creating forms from different types of clay I chose to use a red stoneware clay with a medium grog content from Valentine Clays. This is a strange clay to work with it feels lovely but doesn't have very much plasticity so I was worried about surface cracking during construction.
I knew I wanted to incorporate some rounded forms into the pieces I was developing and I was browsing the internet and came across the work of German ceramic artist Beate Kuhn (1927-2015) and knew immediately that this was something I wanted to explore further. Kuhn's work is all wheel thrown but has a cell like, plant like strange quality to it and the pieces are all connected in some way. Her work also made me think of the work of Toni Losey whom I had met at the International Ceramics Festival in Aberystwyth.
Please see research link for posts about Toni Losey
This idea of strange cell/plant/funghi/body like structures all connecting together seemed to align really well with my own interests so I began to explore ways of making my own pieces. I used several plaster formers to create slabs which I then allowed to firm up so they could be joined together, I also made coiled hemispheres so they could be joined together to create a whole. I ended up with a series of circular ellipse type structures and spheres of different sizes but then I got stuck.
Below are images of work by Beate Kuhn
Below are some images of my own piece in progress
After discovering the work of Beate Kuhn and throwing the collars for the red fungal sculpture I wanted to try and throw some closed forms to see if these could be incorporated into my sculptural pieces. I watched several YouTube videos for guidance but really struggled to achieve the closed form, I could get the profile but couldn't pull up enough neck to close up the sphere. If I chose to pursue throwing spheres and closed forms I would need lots more practice. Am not discarding the idea of throwing but it's more likely that I will need to use it for creating connecting pieces rather than the forms, hand building gives me more scope for larger shapes and oval forms.
I made the large coiled form from B17C stoneware, however when it’s fired it’s a very uninspiring off white colour so I decided to make a batch of porcelain slip and applied this to the piece to give an overall white surface. I had already decided that this form hadn’t turned out like I wanted it to, it was too bulky and wide and didn’t have the balance and form I was looking for so I treated the whole piece as an opportunity to have some fun experimenting with surface.
I made marks in the surface using different tools nad then added coloured slips using a variety of brush work and mono-printing. I was really pleased how well the porcelain slip had worked with the B17C but I need to look at what to add to the coloured slips when monoprinting wiht them as the some of the slip broke off.
After the bisque fire I decided to repeat some of the painterly techniques I used during the greenware stage and keeping to the same colour palette of blue, orange and black I mixed up underglazes and added stains to white glaze to apply to the bisqued surface.
Below is the piece at greenware stage with the marks and slip application.
Below is the piece after bisque with underglazes and glaze application.