Subject PDP

What a year has it been,  from Ken Stradling, going through CoCA, travelling to Korea, visting a breadth of museums in a minivan, Ceramics Art London, Collect and the endless opportunities that this years has offered, the list goes on.

I felt the pressure was set on me to identify what type of artist I consider myself to be or at least begin to, but without realising I end up exploring themes that are entwined with one another and if I had to define myself I would definitely say I am an artist that ended up with clay to explore his ideas. Yes, because I’m definitely not a potter let alone a craftsman, all ‘negative’ connotations which I actually been exploring for my dissertation. With that I have been trying to defend ceramics as a term in craft and investigating how it appropriates within the fine art spectrum.

Picking the Gordon Baldwin piece as a catalyst from the Ken Stradling Collection was essential for this development. Very much interested in the whole movement from the 60s where artists like Gordon Baldwin and Alison Britton took inspiration from Hans Coper and moving away from the Bernard Leach Anglo-Oriental style to a more modernist aesthetic by challenging the notions of functional ceramics and the wheel-thrown methods used by production potters.

Artists like William Staite Murray have inspired me massively as a practitioner. Him as an artist defending his position within the art hierarchy as an artists that uses clay. He identified how unacknowledged clay as a material was. Murray made it his mission to raise the status of pottery to the level of fine art, seeing pottery as the missing link between painting and sculpture as it combined elements of both. He gave most of his works titles, charged “high art” prices for them and shared exhibitions with painters such as Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood. Where as, Hans Coper defining his work as pots although they are seen as sculpture by many today. Intriguing propositions which have helped me to question my identity and how I define myself as a practitioner.

Materiality has been a big theme I looked at this year and by relying completely on the potential and possibility of clay, especially porcelain. The technique of coiling relies absolutely on time and the senses remembered on the fingertips as the thumb and index finger press the clay for it to form into a certain thickness and to stick together. Such way of working applies minimum use of tools and machines, and completely adapts my body to the work as well as the work to my body. Through craft, objects are invited to return to the human life where they belong, where they can provide the psychological foundation for us to realize humanity and establish bonds and exchanges with each other.

How I see objects in relation to one another has completely changed. ‘Connections and Object(ions)’ has helped me to begin to identify the contexts in which collections are sat on. By examining different methods of interpretation we can enhance their function or meaning and the range of institutions in which they are curated  can inform that interpretation. In addition, having the Field module, ‘Wunderkammer Road Trip’ has been a great opportunity to expand my contextual research by understanding the connections these collections have. With a result I began to better understand how I see my work within the wider world and began to display and curate my work more at ease.

In Conclusion, the fast track that the past two years have gone is incredible, however, I am beginning too identify the key areas I am more drawn to within my work and therefore defining myself as to what type practitioner I am. These of course will continue until next year and probably be more concise but perhaps I will never find out completely what I am all about.img_6169


Technical Project

18902399_1576683595678128_1321901545_nHaving this technical project running alongside our module has been essential for my material understanding and further explore my glaze alchemy knowledge. Coming back from South Korea I was very much inspired by the Celadon glazes which are very much embed within their ceramic culture.  I was interested in experimenting with Copper glazes and exploring different firing atmospheres both oxidation and reduction to achieve two different glaze finishes although using the same recipe. An intriguing metaphor in the exploration of cultural differences yet its similarities, a theme that was very much so at the core of my field module.

I began by looking at “The Handbook of Glaze Recipes” by Linda Bloomfield and picking out two recipes, one of which was a ‘David Leach’ porcelain base glaze and I decided to add some additions.

(1) Derek Emms Red:

  • Soda Feldspar                               42
  • Flint                                                19
  • Whiting                                          14
  • High Alkaline Frit                        14
  • China Clay                                      5
  • Tin Oxide                                        5
  • Copper Carbonate                         1

(2) ‘David Leach’ porcelain base glaze with addition of 2% Copper Carbonate:

  • China Clay                                      25
  • Feldspar                                          25
  • Flint                                                 25
  • Whiting                                           25
  • Copper Carbonate                         2

(3) ‘David Leach’ porcelain base glaze with addition of 2% Copper Carbonate and 5% Tin Oxide:

  • China Clay                                      25
  • Feldspar                                          25
  • Flint                                                 25
  • Whiting                                           25
  • Copper Carbonate                         2
  • Tin Oxide                                        5


Oxidation tests came out good with smother green on test (3) with the addition of Tin Oxide in comparison with test (2). Reduction test came out under fired although some glossy red starts to show up on test (1).IMG_9948

With another reduction firing the tests didn’t fire to the firing range they were suppose to (1260°-1300°C). The gas kiln had a few problems at the time and wasn’t being very reliable, so I began to think if I could possibly create a reduction atmosphere within an oxidation firing.

I built a saggar which contained the test glazes and contained some sort of combustible which in theory (or at least in my head) would create a reduction atmosphere. The deprivation of oxygen within the saggar was attempted by surrounding the container with silica sand. Of course the reduction didn’t really happen, although, some ash of the newspaper mixed with test (2) which created the effect that you can see bellow.IMG_9946

Wanting to use my glazes inside my coiled porcelain vessels, I quickly realised I was going on the wrong path as in colour palette wise due to the darkness of the glazes overpowering the interior of the forms. In addition, a couple of students were also looking at copper glazes and with high demands for the gas kiln and it not being reliable, I though I should move on with a glaze that would suit my vessels.

(1)Brushed/Thin layer (2)Brushed/Thick Layer (3)Poured/Thin layer (4)Poured/Thick Layer

A lovely subtle white with a halo of pink when really thick. Also learned to clean my brushes before using them as they often have oxides or other materials. The glaze fits the porcelain body perfectly at 1280°C.IMG_9961With some research I found out that a tin glaze with a small addition of chrome oxide will go pink but with higher percentages it will dramatically go green. Not having very precise scales I roughly measured 3 measurements of Chrome Oxide into my Tin glaze.


(1)Original Tin glaze (2)Addition of Chrome Oxide bellow 1%  (3)Addition of Chrome Oxide around 1% (4)Addition of Chrome Oxide around 5%

These results got me really excited and felt I was achieving something, therefore I decide to invest on some scales that measures to 0.01g up to 500g to get more precise results. Observing my results I know that test (3) will be achieved with additions of Chrome Oxide in between 0% and 1%.IMG_9982IMG_9980Done the silly mistake by not sieving my glazes which got me slightly worried about my first results, however when I sieved the glazes the colour came out uniformly.

With further glaze testing I concluded that the pink will be achieved with addition of Chrome Oxide into the Tin glaze in between 0% and 0.2% which is a very small margin. However, mathematically between 0 and 0.2 there are an infinite amount of numbers, so technically I should be able to test it, perhaps by increasing the amount of the base glaze instead of measuring 100g of glaze.

(1) Chrome oxide over Tin glaze (2) Chrome oxide under Tin glaze

I began to think of the possibility of watering down chrome oxide and then either layering the oxide under or over the glaze. Above, I added a layer of chrome mixed with water at the time increasing it by one all around the cups. As you can see I managed to achieve some great pinks the one under the glaze being more subtle and the one above the glaze stronger.

A= 0.5g of Chrome Oxide mixed into 50ml of water
B= 1g of Chrome Oxide mixed into 50ml of water
C= 2g of Chrome Oxide mixed into 50ml of water
Numbers under Letter= Number of layers of watered down mixture

I then decided to make three tests ranging from 0.05g, 0.1g and 0.2g of Chrome Oxide, however, we didn’t have any Quartz therefore I added the same amount of Flint which is a silica substitute. Unfortunately, the results didn’t come out as I expected so I decided to get more Quartz to continue my investigation.IMG_9968Managging to get the Quartz was great as I explored little addition of 0.05g, 0.1g and 0.15g of Chrome into my original tin glaze resulting the tests bellow.IMG_0013Been exploring different firing temperature as to what the expected 1280°C is due to the nature of my vessels being made out of porcelain which tend to warp at higher temperatures, therefore on the results bellow I went slightly lower, to 1260°C. The glaze doesn’t seem to bad in contrast with the 1280°C firing, however, the quality of the fired porcelain seems slightly better in my opinion.

I fired three porcelain vessels to three temperatures, 1240°C, 1260°C and 1280°C I began to notice some differences. when I took the porcelain to 1280°C it has really vitrified  which have a slightly grayer tone as when as it felt more dense, at 1260°C there aren’t much differences but when we move to 1240°C the porcelain is much lighter and I feel it has a different tactile quality which I like, in addition at that temperature it tends to warp less in comparison with higher temperatures. Although the differences are not very visible on the picture bellow, they are there.

IMG_9991I found having this project alongside our module was essential for us to have a better understanding of materials and glazes.  Knowing what you want and being selective of what you want to achieve is the essence of this exploration. Really interested in observing the glaze qualities of small additions of material into a glaze and how that affects it. There is so much about ceramics and that’s probably why I persue it and loving it.


This term has been an immersive experience where I have been thrown a load of information for my Subject project. Although immersive, often i felt lost and overwhelmed  by the amount of information given as well as coming back from Korea and trying to juggle everything at the same time.

Choosing the extraordinary piece by Gordon Baldwin as my catalyst from the Ken Stradling Collection where there is high possibilities to explore where ceramics sits within the fine art spectrum and therefore experimenting with some ideas that I have previously touched upon, such as perception, defiance of functionality, states of being, relationships between action and drawing and within that reflecting on the theories of Taste and Cool and looking back at creative thinking and materiality where different approaches of making are made. Perhaps I need to use my sketchbook or even just simply working on large scale paper on drawings as a way of reflecting and recording ways in which I uses similar approaches of drawing and making.

Wanting to find out where ceramics sits on the fine art spectrum I want to explore more the juxtaposition between expressive sculptural work and functional work and if somehow these two different approaches of expression can inform me as to how ceramics fits within craft and fine art.craftintransition

Looking back at my Field module and how I could bring ideas around cultural differences and similarities and having the opportunity to invest these ideas with my technical project I managed to briefly look up at the possibilities of copper carbonate glazes and expose them to different atmosphere which in a way is a beautiful metaphor of cultural differences yet its similarities. Therefore I really need to invest in achieving these glazes next term looking at the different amounts of copper carbonate and other compounds.

Coming into next term, I still think there is room to be explorative in way of ideas but I really need to invest on some of these key elements I have been looking this term. Hopefully, all of these ideas will begin to dictate as to what type of practitioner I am which in all fairness is a bit scary and how not only will I explore how ceramics fits within the fine art spectrum but how do I fit within it.

Applying Theory – Taste and Cool

Looking at the theory of taste and cool, arguably, museums and art galleries serve to demonstrate and educate about taste, demonstrating what is good and bad in art and objects. Taste is the shared cultural values of a particular social community or individual. Learned through social class, cultural background and often, education.

…’Cool is not inherent in objects but in people, then what is seen as Cool will change from place to place, from time to time and from generation to generation’ (Pountain, 2000: 20).

‘Cool is an oppositional attitude adopted by individuals or small groups to express defiance to authority – whether that of the parent, the teacher, the police, the boss or the prison warden. Put more succinctly, we see Cool as a permanent state of private rebellion’ (Pountain, 2000: 19).