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Searching for the Holy Grail Cup and Surface Decoration

August 16, 2013

I commenced Refined Wheel Throwing and Printmaking at Tafe in July as a full time student, I have been experimenting with form and surface decoration. In researching ceramic artists that I admire for form or surface decoration I started to create cups. Little cups, big cups, handles, no handles, shape, form, design…..

With each development I sought to find something in each technique and the elusive cup that would define me. Simon Leach is a ceramic artist that I admire and often tune into his You Tube informative sessions, he always ends his videos with “practice, practice, practice”..’

Terracotta, Wheel thrown, cobaly slip, silk screen print transfer 14/05/2013

Terracotta, Wheel thrown, cobalt slip, silk screen print transfer
14/05/2013

I Continued with all the clay I had found in my garage and created some more handbuilt functional wares. Terracotta has lovely rich earthy tones matched with the striking cobalt slip and Red Iron Oxide print transfers, I fell in love. Terracotta and I would become life long companions.

14/05/2013

14/05/2013

14/05/2013 Handbuilt, Terracotta,Silk Screen Print ready for bisque firing

14/05/2013
Handbuilt, Terracotta,Silk Screen Print
ready for bisque firing

177

detail terracotta 14/05/2013
Batch#1 Bisque Firing

Discovering other artists use of silk screen print transfer on ceramics was exciting, technology was moving so fast with decal transfers and laser print transfers, 3D printing!!! , but I found I enjoyed the hands on approach and so much was still to be learned in applying the screens to ceramic ware, the recipes for the oxide print mixture had to be right, experimenting with different colours, slips so much yet to discover.

This led me to research the earliest use of transfer print onto ceramics, combining my Printmaking I endeavour to recreate the same techniques dating back from the mid 18th Century, innovative techniques developed by Josiah Spode of copper plate etching onto tissue paper using cobalt or magnese oxide! I will not be using any materials dangerous to my health.

Spode sugar box, Old Oval shape, Rock pattern pearlware, printed underglaze, gilded, c1795

Spode sugar box, Old Oval shape, Rock pattern
pearlware, printed underglaze, gilded, c1795

Chinese porcelain source for Rock pattern,  18th century

Chinese porcelain source for ‘Rock’ pattern, 18th century

The advent of the Industrial Revolution sparked an abundance of pottery houses, Stoke On Kent, Staffordshire, Minton of England and Wedgwood. Artisans with skills in copper plate etching were well sought after as were skilled potters now using machine to mass produce. Competition was strong, mass production and commodification of  ceramic ware would find itself in demand and in households as alternatives to the handpainted utilitarian wares, which were laborious and costly to produce.

This really hit home for me, mass produced functional wares as compared to the wheel thrown vessel.  I discover a connection albeit my mass produced endeavours are small, but I find I still need to have my hands on the clay and the satisfaction I feel when I pick up a handmade ceramic ware, the way it is treasured, it contains something more than machine pressed or machine slip cast. I have recently started to consider making some plaster cast models of my wheel thrown pieces, thus creating my mini mass production. Each piece requires a hands on approach of cleaning, preparing the surface for decoration, or altered, further developments and thoughts on this subject to continue..

Getting on the wheel and expecting that the first piece thrown will determine your personality and skill is challenging, over the last few months now I have been altering each form and developing further technique and skill towards discovering The Holy Grail of Ceramic Cups I felt I was looking for.

20/05/2013 Batch #1 Wheel thrown, cobalt slip, silk screen print transfer

20/05/2013
Batch #1
Wheel thrown, cobalt slip, silk screen print transfer

Considerations in design, in body, clay, handles and surface decoration are constantly evolving with each step. I used a harder, gritty reconstituted clay to pull these cups, thinking of functionality, volume and proportions are all valued and redesigned through “practice, practice, practice”.

Wax resist, Tonal variations of glaze, opaque, clear, onglaze techniques, spraypainting oxides and drawing on the surface are areas I am pursuing.

20/05/2013

20/05/2013

20/05/2013 Batch #1 Wheel thrown, cobalt slip, silk screen print transfer

20/05/2013
Batch #1
Wheel thrown, cobalt slip, silk screen print transfer

All images remain as property @marikaceramics. Design and concept elements remain as intellectual property @marikaceramics as per copyright laws.

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