Aberystwyth

I have been back into the studio, all enthused after the Earth and Fire experience. There is a real sense now that the MA is coming to an end.  The momentum is starting to build towards the final assessment that, though in September, is only 10 weeks away.  Within that period both Geoff and Dave will be away for their summer leave and my children will be at home for the school holidays too, so there will be limitations on time and instruction.  I’ve got loads of ideas of thing I’d like to try so I’m hoping to pack in lots of making over the next few weeks.

I’ve been spending time in glaze room working on the tinted glossy glazes that I blogged about previously and, as always, making more forms.

I’ll post the results here once the test tiles are back.

In terms of inspiration, our recent weekend trip to the biennially held International Ceramics Festival in Aberystwyth, will be hard to beat.  Fantastic to be immersed again the world of ceramics so soon after Earth and Fire.  This is very different to a fair, being more of a symposium for potters, with two full days of lectures and demonstrations and lots of alternative firings being showcased.   There was so much good stuff over the course of the weekend it’s difficult to select the highlights.

Brendan Hesmondhaigh gave an interesting, amusing and candid talk/demo on his work,  to a packed auditorium.  He’s a figurative sculptor and works fast and loose to capture really striking resemblances of his subject matter.  In no way linked to my practice but he did give some great insight into what it’s like to be a full-time ceramicist.

As a wannabe geologist I also enjoyed the talk given by Matthew Blakely on his work and how he’s travelling throughout the UK making pots purely with raw materials collected in a specific region.  The research, effort and time taken with this endeavour is great but he gets some fantastic results and what a sense of place about each piece. I don’t know how he manages to part with any of his pots!

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Overall it was the alternative firings that really struck a chord with me.  I loved the diaplay by Terry Davies of his paper kilns.  It was fascinating to watch the wig-wam structures being built over the course of the Saturday morning.  The very idea of a paper kiln seems to me to be something of a contradiction and yet these kilns reached temperatures of over 1000C.  Made from a tepee of coppiced branches and covered with layers of paper and slip, they were filled with items made by members of the public on the Friday.  Each had its own mini firebox at the front, fashioned from kiln bricks and once lit, these were fed continually with wood throughout the afternoon and evening.  By 10pm they looked like a series of mini volcanoes, shooting sparks high into the night sky.

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The other firing that really captured my imagination was the mini-anagama firing done by Liming Zhang.  He made both palm-sized and pumpkin sized kilns which when fired reached temperatures in excess of 1200C and very quickly.  The small pots fired inside, using charcoal and a hairdryer (!), came out with some beautiful wood firing effects and ash glazes.  I’m really quite keen to have a go at this at some point in the future.

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Even the punk raku was good fun.

Overall a fantastic weekend with a great group of friends.

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Looking forward to more Puzzlers Spout in 2021!

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