We were kindly supplied with a vast amount of ceramic plates, mugs and saucers by IKEA, with the intent to apply decals and transfer techniques to them creating illustrations, stories or plainly decoration, with the potential of exhibiting them this uncoming February at IKEA itself. I picked this little mug and saucer as i really liked the shape and colour.

My first thoughts¬†came from looking into tea. When you talk about tea the first thing that jumps into my¬†mind is England. The tea culture, the 4 o’clock ceremony, milk, no milk? milk first or sugar first? (who puts milk in tea anyways? eww-no), scones, jam, finger sandwiches, cakes, the list goes on, everything is very traditional and very Alice in Wonderland like. But, how traditional is this association¬†to¬†England? Introduced by India in the 17th century, tea¬†drinking was actually highly influenced by a Portuguese princess, Catherine de Braganza. In addition, teas like English (Ceylon) Breakfast tea, Earl Grey and Black tea are a mixture of tea leafs all over the world, such as, India, China and Indonesia. Even though tea is also cultivated in the UK its not as mass produced.

These ideas are buzzing through my head and I’m interested on the idea of revealing the actual “hidden” background of this very tradition, highly associated to British culture.



Applying the Decals

Experimenting with decals that were provided to us, changing body and creating different creatures

We had a quick induction with Caroline as to how to apply our decals onto ceramic ware. It is a bit more complicated than what I first though as decals will not adhere properly if placed on top of each other, so it is a bit¬†fiddly. When you were younger did you ever feel like a gangster and apply those fake water tattoos that came with your crisps? (we had them in Portugal – cool i know) Well basically those ‘tattoos’ are applied the same way as the decals but instead onto ceramics.

This only works if you have a pre fired and glazed ceramic piece. Works best if applied to flat surfaces but will work as well on curved surfaces but will require a bit more time to place them. To apply them, first of all, you clean the surface you want the application to be and then submerge the decal you want on water and leave it there for a few minutes until it separates from the decal paper. When this happens, place it on the ceramic piece and with a rubber kidney try and remove the maximum amour of water that is trapped underneath the decal. This will prevent any bursts on the decal as steam is produced. You should allow around 24 hours before it goes onto a firing between 800-840¬įC.

With the opportunity of producing your own decals and with these having the advantage of looking realistic, I had the idea of how would someone react if they found a bug, spider on a piece of work. It is just an initial idea but that could possibly evolve into something bigger. Probably is an idea i would like to that into my ‘There’s many a slip’ project.

What is Visual Culture?

What we are going to talk about on this module is about the visual and how we pertain it on our everyday, from perspectives of artists, designer, makers and ways we can contextualize these with theories and relate it to our own practice.

Visual Culture is that which is concerned with everything we see, have seen, or may visualize – paintings, sculptures, movies, television, photographs, furniture, utensils, gardens, dance, buildings, artifacts, landscape, toys, advertising, jewelry, apparel, light, graphs, maps, websites, dreams – in short, all aspects of culture that communicate through visual means.

Fendi, Crayons – Gallerie Lafayette, Paris

Malcom Barnard has stated that visual culture is ‚ÄúEverything that can be seen‚ÄĚ, (1998); however, this fails to take account of things that occur in nature. There are things that occur in nature that are not really touched by human hands, but things like gardens, although looking natural, they are part of visual culture as humans configurate plants to grow at certain places next to what ever they want.

Exploring the idea of human intervention with nature or natural substances in a more fine art context are examples ¬†by Andres Serrano and Damien Hirst. Marcom Barnard further discussed that visual culture is “everything produced or created by humans that can be seen”, (1998).

 These are made with a function or communicate intent; however, its been in art sequels and in our consciousness for such a long time that it has been an iconic, recognisable symbol of popular culture.

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Adler & Sulivan, Chicago Audotorium Theatre, 1889

‚ÄúIt is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,of all things physical and metaphysical,of all things human and all things superhuman,of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression,that form ever follows function. This is the law.”

– Louis H. Sullivan, 1956

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Sancaklar Mosque, Emre Arolat Architects. Archdaily Building of the Year 2015

If something is has a job to do, communicate a message or satisfy a function then there is intent in its production by man.

Its interesting how apps like Logos Quiz, we can identify logos and brands without it having the whole logo. We have adapted so much to these symbols of popular culture that it has become second nature to us



What is context?

Oxford English Dictionary definition of context: 1.The Circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement or idea. Within that we look at back drop, circumstance, situation, framework,setting,perspective, environment.

Context can be:

  • Historical
  • Political
  • Technological
  • Geographical
  • Ethical
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural
  • Epistemological
  • Gender
  • Philosophical
  • Professional
  • Institutional
  • Economic
  • Business/Industry
  • Legal
  • Visual
  • Emotional
  • Physical

Artists, Designers,Authors and Makers don’t operate in a vacuum they need to be informed and knowledgeable in relation to the context of their practice, whether or not they are aware of it anyone making or writing is influenced by many factors, everything that emerges is a product of the conditions and circumstances of time, people and place.




The Image World

mona+lisa+frameOn this really inspirational keynote lecture by Jonathan Clarkson we looked at “The Image World”. How does the word of images interact with one and another? The consumption of the world as an image and its perceptions.

We looked at the Mona Lisa as an image because it’s so famous. However, these ideas are not only conceived to painting, but it applies into much wider fields. A particular problem is that for centuries, if you wanted to see a particular piece of work, you had to travel to see that piece of work, you had to travel to places as a piece of work has an aura according to Walter Benjamin (The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1936).

It requires resources, money, time, effort. Does it create disappoint ment? Unexpected expected. Instead, we have images. But, its an image not an object? The ways we respond to images we act as if there is no difference.


The image is of the painting, but the image is not the painting. The image is whatever can be translated from one medium to another. And its this notion of transbillity that is the key here. With a photograph a certain number of qualities cant be translated from a painting to a digital format, texture, size, colour. The translations of an image are varied, you can draw, paint, photograph, model or even write about.

“She is older than the rocks among which she sits; Like the vampire,
She has been dead many times,
And learned the secrets of the grave;And has been a diver in deep seas,
And keeps their fallen day about her;
And trafficked for strange webs with Eastern merchants:
And, as Leda,
Was the mother of Helen of Troy,
And, as Saint Anne,
The mother of Mary;
And all this has been to her but as the sound of lyres and flutes, And lives
Only in the delicacy
With which it has moulded the changing lineaments,
And tinged the eyelids and hands.”
– Walter Pater

Which is the true image?

Lighting, angle, perspective are all key factors that change our notions of the true image.

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A digital image is the performance of a text. Different people and different technologies have different have intrepretation and perceptions of their senses, images, sounds and smells and these vary from one to another.

Film still from The Matrix, 1999

Copies are not clones. Every copy is unique.

Peter Ashton, I am sitting in stagram, 2015

Oliver Laric, Versions series – modification, reformulation are the constant truths of image production. His interested in questioning whether life imitates art? or if art imitates life? – “we never see an image for the first time”

Richard Mosse, The Enclave, 1997

The copy is better the original РIf the look of photography, film and video  is fitted with greater  realism than our perception, then the direct experience of direct perception is less oforeceive than the machines looking what ever that look is meant to be.

The way images are made and used are changing and the changes not only affect the way we understand art and other forms of imagery that are being made now, but they affect all the imagery that has ever been made, because all gets pload through these technology on its way towards us, so images are endessly modifield in new contexts.


” We are inside the image. The image is inside us”

Made in Roath

2Made in Roath is an arts festival that happens every year in a beautiful neighbourhood called Roath, just adjacent to the city centre of Cardiff. The festival showcases art, music, performance, literature and food in a range of venues. This event is organised by the community around Roath and is a great opportunity of bringing people of different ages together.

On the 18th October, I volunteered at the little spot at Roath Pleasure Gardens designated for the Cardiff School of Art and Design where there was a range of art workshops, from wood carving, spinning paint and making your own badge. Me, Myriam and Laura were helping little kids to throw terracotta. And let me tell you, we had a blast. We had one shimpo wheel and there was always a queue. So while the little kids (and parents) waited, we handed them a ball of clay to play around and introduced to them coil building and pinch potting. It was funny as how some where already experienced and already had previously played around with the wheel, and how big brothers wanted to teach their younger sibling, great fun.

And their excitement at the end when taking their creations home with a massive smile from cheek to cheek, just made it all worth it. Apart from the first little boy I was helping out, everything was going great until we started pulling the wall up, but his overly excited fingers pressed the wall to hard and I started to see it collapsing and while I tried to save it just didn’t hold itself and it just went down. Let me tell you, he wasn’t impressed. Something I have been interested has been in teaching, community work, participatory arts and I am fascinated in sharing information and knowledge of this material which we love, clay.

Processing Clay: Mixing from a recipe

Mixing clay from a recipe is probably a safer bet than digging up your own clay as more or less you will know its contents.

We looked at mixing one of our stoneware clays, Ash White. Personally, I like throwing with this clay as its quite stable when throwing and especially if you starting to learn how to throw. It is also a recipe very easy to mix and it doesn’t have many materials.

Ash White: (Percentage dry material)

  • Ball Clay¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†75
  • China Clay ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 25

12325123_1099200633426429_1704232924_nFirst of all, you grab all the dry ingredients and measure them on a scale individually and place them on a container together so they can be mixed together into a consistent slurry.

After the materials are mixed place them on a clean, dry plaster bat and do the same steps as you have done with the dug up clay. (note on the picture, Duncan placing the Ash White onto a plaster bat for terracotta, earthenware, stoneware and porcelain don’t mix Duncan – contamination:)

¬†And finally clay is wedged up and is ready for use. And when I say finally i don’t really mean finally because you can add other stuff like grog which is basically fired clay or kiln furniture that is then crushed into small pieces and then added to clay bodies. This has its advantages as it will make the clay body more stability and it is particularly good if you making large sculptural work. However, adding to much grog will make the clay short (crumbly-not very flexible).

Other interesting prepared clay bodies:

Bone China(1250-1260¬įC):

  • Bone ash ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 50
  • China¬†clay¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†25
  • Cornish stone ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†25

Dental Porcelain (1200¬įC):

  • China¬†clay ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 5
  • Potash feldspar ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†81
  • Flint ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 14

Raku body (1260-1280¬įC):

  • Fireclay ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 50
  • China¬†clay¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 15
  • Ball¬†clay¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 15
  • Grog ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 15
  • Talc ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 5

Fireclay Body (1260-1280¬įC):

  • Fireclay ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†60
  • China¬†clay¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†20
  • Ball¬†clay¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†20



Processing Clay: Dug up

After collecting my clay, I broke it into very small pieces and left it to dry. After a few days, I added water to the clay, enough just to cover it. The clay must be bone dry as this is easier for the particles to break down into a slurry.

Next step  on the process, after my clay had the right consistency I placed a 40 mesh sieve on a container and plopped some of my clay mixture into the mesh and began to rub it in with a brush (Health & Safety: as the mesh is quite rough and can provoke abrasion on the skin and where other unknown material can get into your body). This was a bit of a tedious job as my clay had a bit of organic matter, like rocks and twigs. But after I went through the mixture I ended up with a nice, smooth substance. I was actually surprised with the colour, It came up with a greenish colouration. Cant wait to fire it.

On a clean, dry plaster bat, add a coil or clay so no clay with leak from the plaster. Dry plaster as a material is great to absorb water and when the consistent substance of clay in placed onto the bat it will absorb all of that moisture, how ever if left for a long period of time it will just dry the clay out and breaking the clay and adding water will be required, so no need to worry. After 2 hours i turned my clay around and place a plastic bag overnight. On the next day it had the perfect texture of clay and I just wedged it up into a lump of clay, ready to use. 
One of our projects will be testing our dug up clay. We will look into different firing temperatures (Oxidation, Reduction), water content, shrinkage and properties of the clay (Iron content). Im intrigued to see the different colours it will fire to or perhaps turning it into a glaze. Isn’t clay just fascinating. The endless possibilities and results a piece of clay from a geological place be transformed dependent from a range of factors. Perhaps a bit too¬†daunting.