Friday, 22 June 2012

More on the Legacy Wall....

Been a while since I posted about's a faily slow process really, as it is a matter of juggling days that the school were available, lots of patience waiting for clay to dry, and then kilns to fire and cool down again.  This amount of tiles took several firings!

A few weeks ago, the year 10s at KHCTSC made the 48 tiles that are going to make up the final artwork, this isnt'an exact one, but a sample we did first to test the technique, the clay and the kiln itself. 

Sample Tile
 We used a heavily grogged terracotta clay from Valentines Clays in Stoke (where else?) - this clay, as well as being strong, has loads of texture to add interest, and is forgiving to work with!  We sliced into approximately one inch thick slabs that were then 'stamped' with the plaster blocks the students had made at a previous section.  Each tile is a different shape, each one hand made, and each one stamped with a different selection of plaster blocks.  As all the students made one or two each, there's lots of lovely variety - some students chose to stamp with one design on a tile, some with only part sections and different designs, and another was multiple stamped with the same design.  I loved the diversity and it felt like the students really 'got' my idea about being free and random with it - it can be quite difficult to convey the process as its quite lengthy - it isn't possible to demonstrate this from start to finish, only in stages, so I've had to ask the students and staff at the school to have a little bit of blind faith that it will all come good!

Giant Template!
So, all tiles should now be fired, and waiting for the final assembly stage. One or two more stages to go, one of  which is the frame - I can't do much about this as I can't weld!  But I did have to make a template for the steel fabricators and it was doing this that made me realise just how big this project is!  It took most of the kitchen floor....

The other part I have to do is some digital art work - around 150 students submitted designs at the start of the project of which we selected 20 to convert into the plaster 'stamps'.  But we are actually using everybody's art in the final piece and this involves me scanning in all the 10cm designs.... one by one!  And I will be compiling them into one big montage for the back drop of the whole work.

Watch this space!

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Joys of Sharing....

As you're no doubt aware, I am based at Shed 2 Studios in Ilkeston - a fabulous old building (even though it gets a bit cold!), which rather than making individual units, the original founders decided to leave as open studio spaces. 

It makes for a great working atmosphere, with lots of sharing of ideas, no feelings of isolation that some makers suffer, we can chat while we work - you even know when someone's put the kettle on because they can't sneak by - we here ya! It also gives me access to other skills, materials, equipment and techniques for for a maker is invaluable. 

But alongside Shed 2, in the next building along, is another maker, Iain Swanson of Leafbone Furniture. Iain makes a range of unusual, but absolutely beautiful bespoke furniture, often retaining the original shapes of the pieces of wood he uses. When you see his work, you can't but want to touch it (sorry Iain, I'll bring the duster...) I'd recently made some mini-panels with the idea of making colourful tea-lights, so for our recent open studios, I asked Iain to make me a few stands. Obviously my brain wasn't fully engaged, and I forgot to explain that I wanted to place the tealight in a holder at the back of the panel; however, when he brought me round the samples, it really didn't matter - as I thought what he made was beautiful anyway! He's managed to capture elements of each panel and make unique stands - again, they have that touchy-feeliness and I think they go lovely together. Here's a selection: 

Tea Light