Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Reflections on organic architecture

Well it's been nearly a month since I've visited here. There's lots to catch up on... and this will be the first of (I hope!) 3 posts today.

First of all, the outcome of my last college project (known as Module AD210 Critical Research Study), the one where I had to write a critical research essay and then make a ceramic work in response to that (see http://ambientceramics.blogspot.com/2011/01/going-round-in-circles-as-usual.html).  I chose 'organic architecture' as my subject for the essay.  Last time I posted about this work, it was biscuit-fired and ready for its final firing.  I knew, from testing, that any temperature over 1100 degrees centigrade would cause the work to collapse, however I needed a high temperature firing to get the piece strong enough to survive in the long term.  After much deliberation, consultation and a variety of tests, I came to the conclusion that the only way to ensure the piece would keep its shape during a stoneware firing was to suspend it, unglazed, upside down before putting it into the kiln.  This was no mean feat and I couldn't have managed it on my own.  The ever-practical Steve very kindly came to my rescue.  Between the two of us, with input and advice from Jess and Andrew, we managed to get the work balanced safely on to kiln props directly on to a kiln shelf:

So... off into the kiln it went and I waved it goodbye.  We were all pretty dubious about whether it would survive intact, in particular with the weight of the rings pulling down on the base, whether they would hit the kiln shelf and warp the whole thing out of shape...  In the end, we all just agreed that, whatever happened, it would be a good experiment to see just how far we could push the clay body....

So I returned to college the following week, expecting the worse...  and was really delighted to find that, not only had it survived but the rings had held their shape really well and the only part that had distorted was the big flat base (which I hadn't liked) which now had a lovely organic curve to it. 

Now came the question of surface decoration... I didn't like the piece unglazed - the stoneware buff clay was neutral in colour - quite uninteresting - and I really wanted the piece to have a shine to it to intensify the effect of any light falling on to it.  I decide to spray paint it!  I went off to B&Q to see if they had any spray paint that would do the job....  they had about a 100 different colours!  After about 20 minutes of indecision, picking cans up, putting them back down, I went for a silvery finish:

I was quite pleasantly surprised by the quality of the finish of the spray paint and, although it wouldn't be the usual first choice for surface decoration for my ceramic work, it did the trick nicely on this occasion.


The following is a selection of pictures from my project.  One of the real fun parts of making this work was in photographing it.  The piece made the most beautiful shadows and I spent far too many hours photographing it (and some of my other test pieces!) from every conceivable angle...

Module hand-in display including a photo board with some of my pics

So... now I await my results in terms of mark for my essay and for my ceramics!

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