14 May, 2019 "Glazes from the Ground Up"
This talk, by Andrew Carran, is the beginning of a project for members to gather soils from around Christchurch / Canterbury to make glazes. Andrew is a retired geologist who has worked in many countries around the world and he likes to make glazes from soils that he finds around Chc. Halswell and Lyttelton, to name a couple, were on display.
The project goes from here; members, who have signed up, will spend the next two weeks looking for appropriate soils. Much of the soil around Chc and up on Banks Peninsula is Loesse; this soil is approximately 50% silica, 25% aluminium and the remaining 25% is various oxides, carbonates and trace minerals. Mud flats, of a sticky, muddy nature, are also a good potential source of 'interesting' soil. Any soils gathered will be dried and where possible ground down to small particles ready to be made into a glaze.
First we started with a very busy clubnight which was very informative with lots of glaze samples, soil maps of the greater Christchurch region and lots and lots of information, so much to take in.
Six of us and Andrew got together to work on our own glaze projects. We had soils, sands, loess and clays from the harbours to Gore Bay and all the way to the Craigieburn Ranges. We started with preparing our particular base material by breaking it up and siveing it into very fine particles.
Lunch was a wee outing to a lookout overlooking the Canterbury plains. Andrew shared stories about the old brick works in town, where the raw materials came from and clay works in a number of different locations in the distant foothills of the Southern Alps; a highlight of day one.
Then it got pretty messy, with measuring, mixing, adjusting our glazes and glazing many test tiles. We are now in the process of firing our glazes to Cone 5/6, Cone 7/8 and Cone 9 before we potentially adjust them some more to desired outcomes. Can't wait to see all out test tiles. Photographs of the work, so far, are attached. We'll have the test tiles and other work some time in the near future.
Ly-Ming, 9 April 2019
A wonderful demonstration by a master of his craft; Ly-Ming's use of thumb pots and coils had many of us thinking how long it had been since we had done work using these methods.
Ly-Ming began the evening with three large balls of clay and some examples of his small heads and an egg (ceramic of course), then proceeded to show how simply he could make them. (see heads 4 and 5 in the photo's below). Ly-Ming even brought his class notes from when he was a student in Dunedin many years ago. Quirky might describe the style of the heads Ly-Ming makes but his demonstration of his thumb-pot technique in producing them was delightful.
Then it was onto coiling; beginning with an oval three or four coils high, then he formed it into a loose figure-of-8 shape and pressed out two slight bulges; another two or three coils and some tidying-up saw the bottom of a torso. (Enlarge the group photos to see the beginning of the torso)
Ly-Ming had a steady stream of information for us and answered questions as he went about his work. For those who came away inspired to attempt some hand work, Ly-ming has agreed to hold a weekend workshop later in the year.
A wonderfully inspiring evening shared by 14 of us. We would love to see more members at the monthly demo evenings.
The AGM was held in our club room, at Phillipstown Hub, 13th November.
We had 16 members present and everyone got involved with the proceedings.
The highlights of the meeting were: the election of our officers and committee and 'Farewells' to those leaving the committee.
Chairperson: Anne Goddard
Secretary: Graham Maguire
Treasurer: Ken Doidge
Minute secretary: Brenda Benge
Class co-ordinator: Leigh-Ann Smith
Club room: Lorraine Jansen
Shona Clarkson, Genevieve, Allan Mauger and Bill Bromley have left our committee and special thanks were offered to both Shona and Genevieve without whose effort the club would not be in existence today. Allan Mauger proposed the club invest Shona with Life Membership; this was unanimously seconded by all. A fitting tribute to a wonderful stalwart of Mt Pleasant Pottery Group.
The meeting closed with a reminder of our Christmas get-together on Tuesday 11th December at the pizza oven at the Hub; starting at 6.30pm. All members and partners welcome; bring your favourite pizza toppings.
Raku Group July Update
We had a great day on Saturday 14th July. Some fantastic looking pots and a lot of fun. Some trials were done on the new naked Raku slip – I have another round of trials on the next firing and will hopefully have a better cracking effect.
Another Raku firing is planned for Saturday September 8th 10am start – so plenty of time to get your pots ready.
There will be a box on the bench marked “Raku ready to Bisque” – put your pots in here by / on Tuesday 21st August – this will give us time to bisque your pots ready for Saturday 8th September. If you already have some pots and you want to give it a go – come along.
If you are in a class and would like me to come along and show you some of our results / questions - just give me an email and I will pop in. firstname.lastname@example.org
Please give me an email if you are planning to come along on Sat 8th Sept so I can plan.
Raku Ready – pots
Making your pot / vessel - The number one key that Averill advised to get the best result was – Ensure your pot is smooth – burnishing your pot when it is bone dry.
If you want a textured look for your Raku then disregard making it smooth.
Burnishing Tools - Any very smooth object can potentially be used as a burnishing stone. Many potters use rubber or plastic ribs for burnishing, particularly on leather hard pots. The back of a spoon is a popular tool, though it may leave greyish marks on the clay. Make sure you do not sand your pots, even prior to burnishing.
Apply Terra Sigillata - When your pot is bone dry and dust free – apply 4-5 layers of Terra sigillata. Terra sigillata gives it a glazed, shinny look, obviously disregard if you do not want this look. This will be available at the pottery rooms for you to use.
Terra sigillata is an ultra refined clay slip that can give a soft sheen when applied to bone-dry wares and, if polished or burnished while still damp, may give a high gloss.
Bisque your pot – your pot is now ready for Raku and/or Naked Raku.
An Obvara Pot for Christmas?
I am really keen to give this a go – if we can get a few people we can do this one Raku Saturday. Looks like great fun
The obvara firing process, which originated in Eastern Europe around the 12th Century, involves scalding the finish on the pottery to seal the porous surface. Similar to the raku pottery process, a bisqued pot is heated, (899°C) and removed from the heat. The difference is that the pot is then dipped into a specific obvara yeast mixture before being dunked in water to rapidly cool the piece. The effects are quite stunning.
Raku Firing Saturday 14th July
Leigh-Anne's first Saturday, Club Day, Raku firing was held on 14th July in beautifully fine weather. There were seven hearty souls participating and gaining experience from more practised potters (Thanks, Shona). The report is that the crackle glaze worked well, but the slip "needs a little work". An action shot and the results:
There were seven of us who attended Renate's workshop, last weekend, discovering the delights and magic of putting engobe and slips onto clay. We had each been asked to bring some leather-hard tiles and bowls to practice the techniques of engobe application.
Renate had some simple rules for us to consider as we embarked on our discovery; importantly, consider the viewer and don't limit oneself in how to apply the engobe and work the surface of the pot.
To get the best result for the colour of engobe one wants, use the whitest clay possible. The array of colours Renate uses is clear from the samples of her standard range she brought in to show us. Renate also uses a small range of colours from which she blends to achieve the colour she wants. We then mixed up a colour each, using the white slip Renate had brought and shared these amongst us. We then attacked the tiles and bowls we had brought in with some hesitancy as some of us hadn't attempted this before. A sample of the results is shown below.
Being involved in learning something new generated wonderful discussion and debate. Renate has great skill and knowledge in the application of engobes and to watch her demonstrate and see her range of test tiles was wonderful. I think the range of colours and designs of engobe decorations is only limited by our imaginations.
Thank you, Renate.
Club night with Mary Lou Foate
What a great night.
Mary Lou Foate – creates her works of art by a variety of different methods.
Mary Lou lovingly creates these unique, whimsical, adorable and very individual pieces of art: miniature sculptures, plaques, brooches, coasters… by using found tools from nature or the kitchen draw.
The first method she showed us was by drawing an outline in the clay and then pressing areas away this leaves the main focus, normally the face at a more defined level. She marks the back ground using a whole assortment of objects, e.g. pens and screws .
Mary Lou lets the clay define the work, and never forces the result.
Another method is to add base shapes to the outside of a pot / plate and then press them into the pot.
She can mark these shapes before and after pressing them and loves the way that pressing the object distorts the figure.
This method she uses for her house tiles and her fish plates. She also builds on pinch pots making them into figurines.
Her glazing was amazing. She uses several different methods; She will often put on a base colour (Waikato blue glaze) and then sponges this off giving wonderful depth to her detailed work. She combines both clear glaze on top and under colour; no particular glaze on her faces and colours mixed with ball clay (for a matt effect).
Recently she has done some work with BRT clay and added Raku white animals, pressing them in.
A very inspiring and creative evening.
April Club Night
Slip/Engobe demonstration By Renate
We witnessed a wonderful demonstration of engobe decoration by Renate Galetzka on Tuesday evening, 10th April.
Renate was born in Germany and was on her OE in the 1980's when she met a Kiwi chap (and married him); she says she is still on her OE. As part of her travels she discovered the art of ceramics; she took classes, worked for one of NZ pottery's great dames, Frederika Ersten and gained her Trade Certificate in Pottery. The traditional Swiss mountain engobe decorated earthenware became an interest; from this Renate has developed her own designs and style producing wonderfully coloured pieces.
In New Zealand we tend to use the word 'slip' for a clay slurry wether it is natural or coloured, however engobe is the word for any coloured slip.
To make an engobe to Renate's specifications we will be making our own engobes in the upcoming workshop, at the start of July, where Renate will elaborate in more detail on the recipe, do's and don'ts and tips of the trade regarding making, using and decorating with engobes. Keep an eye out for details
Some techniques that Renate has developed are; select good brushes that hold a good amount of engobe and use one brush per colour (this prevents altering the colour onto the pot. Pots should be leather hard; from her demonstration this showed an excellent uptake of the engobe by the pot. When beginning to decorate your work, start with the outside first, the inside next and the rim is last. Use ones free hand to steady the hand with the brush (see this in all the photo's)
Renate's inspiration for her decoration designs comes from Dr Seuss and from her daughter's time as a circus trapeze artist.
A five sided vase was produced and Renate proceeded to demonstrate some of the techniques that may be used to get an engobe decoration design onto a pot: paper resist, where a cut-out pattern of some paper provides a profile, sponging either randomly or in a pattern, drawing/dotting with a slip trailer (produces a texture as well) and sgraffito.
After bisque firing the pieces are glazed with a clear glaze.
Renate's demonstration showed us what we can all produce pieces of beauty and interest using the techniques that she uses. It may take us a little longer but we can enjoy the process in the meantime. Thank Renate.
March Club Night
March Club Night - Tuscany, Italy with Eve Hope
After viewing some of Eve’s platters, bowls and cups from her collection from Rampini Ceramiche she proceeded to demonstrate her decoration technique on one of her casserole dishes.
Eve, who has a fine arts degree from UoC, left her job in Auckland in 1992 for 2 months and travelled to Italy to help a her cousin who had opened a restaurant in the Tuscan countryside just south of Florence. Whilst there she was introduced to the Rampini Family who had established a pottery studio close to where she was staying. As Eve has always had an interest in colour and designs of Italian maiolica she could not resist asking if she might try her hand at decorating. Eve admits her early work was a little shaky but was not too long before she felt confident enough to begin exploring the colours and experimenting with new designs. She is grateful to the Rampini family for their open acceptance to having a Kiwi designing and decorating Italian ceramics. Their friendship and collaboration worked so well Eve gave up her job in NZ remained as their principle designer until 2008.
Her developed skill was on display for us to see and enjoy at our club night. The casserole dish and lid had an external white, tin glaze. The under-glaze stains were in powdered form; Eve mixed them with water to a formula. She also colour mixed to create just the right hue. Her brushes are from Pelo di Bue, bought from Italy, those used for outlining have been specifically cut and shaped for the job and are used by most Maiolica pottery studios in Italy and we all admired the wonderful marks she made with them.
Interestingly, the clay of the dish, the stains and glazes are different from those that are used in Tuscany, so we await in anticipation for their exit from the kiln. We’ll let you know.
Thank you, Eve, for the demonstration of your skill and some insights into your time in Italy.
The Secretary and Members - Mt Pleasant Pottery Group.