My first week on the Ceramics MA at UCLAN, it feels strange to be back in education, a mixture of anxiety and excitement in equal measure. I didn’t know how I would feel about going back to basics, am no expert and often feel like I have no idea what am doing, Ceramics is such a massive field, it’s impossible to know everything and takes a lifetime to build up a solid library of knowledge, so I knew for sure I would definitely learn something new from having the opportunity to go back to basics.
It was only when I started exploring the brief and really letting go I realised how long it had been since I had actually allowed myself to ‘play’ with clay. Since opening my pottery studio almost 5 years ago, my time has been taken up with gaining knowledge, I was starting from scratch so I wanted to learn as many skills, techniques and processes as I could, as well as gathering as much information as I could on the technical knowledge that goes along with ceramic production. Around 3 years ago I started to teach, and this grew and developed, I still teach and really enjoy it, but it is time consuming and it has impacted on the time I have to explore my own making. I often found myself making work in response to commercial pressures or to fulfil a commission.
Having the chance to just explore the materiality of clay, experiment and investigate with no set outcome was really liberating. I loved the outcomes of the experiments with texture, being free to use a variety of mark making tools and techniques such as scoring, ripping, embossing, compressing, stretching and drying produced some really interesting results, it got ideas flowing for new ways of working with the clay body.
Below is a slideshow of some of the experiments with clay and the resulting tiles before firing. I used the departments ‘in house’ reclaim, a mixture of different clay bodies, mainly stoneware. Once the tiles are fired I will blog about how I applied different finishes (oxides and glazes) and how the textures impacted on these finishes.
I have learned so much from this experience of playing with clay and I plan to do a lot more of this.