I have done a lot of coiling since I started working with clay, it’s one of my favourite hand building techniques, there is something meditative and mentally calming about the act of coiling, it’s definitely a making process that immerses me in the artistic flow. Coiling is a very versatile hand building technique, enabling the maker to create a multitude of shapes and forms from giant, human size onggi pots through to delicate porcelain thimbles. Many of the sculptural vessel like forms I have constructed have been made using coils, it’s easy to create curved, undulating shapes using coil building and there is something deeply satisfying about seeing a form slowly emerge as the walls and form of the pieces grow in your hands.
Coiling can be done over a former, inside a slumped form or free hand straight onto a board, virtually any clay body can be used, but some require more delicate care and attention than others to avoid slumping and collapsing. I often coil more than one form at a time, to allow clay to dry and ‘set up’ more firmly so the base can withstand the weight of further coils.
In the piece below I decided to show the making process, and chose to leave the outside wall of coils unblended, it’s an opportunity to create some interesting surfaces when the glaze is applied as it will break over the coil ridges.
I chose to use my own glazes that I had made but felt that these didn’t really work as well I had hoped on this piece and further experimentation is needed.
When I embarked on my MA I had already committed to participating in a group exhibition at The Storey Gallery in Lancaster with Higherford Mill Artists group (I will do some blogs about this as the works I produce develop). I decided to begin a larger scale coiled piece as part of the body of work I would be producing for this show. The shows theme was landscape and I wanted a piece that explored some textural aspects in the surface but also had some feminine qualities as I wanted to explore the idea of locating myself within the landscape. I am very interested in the cyclical nature of life, processes of decay, and decomposition and the connections between humans, animals and the natural world. We all return to the earth in some form or another, the materials I am using to make these vessels are born from this same earth, clay seems the most natural and appropriate material to reflect this reality in the vessels and forms I make.