So I am trying something new, a test run maybe, a challenge etc..... when I first started changing my work due to the autoimmune arthritis I looked into many ways of doing it. I bought a slab roller, I went on a course to learn how to turn plaster on a lathe to slip cast and I looked at different ways to decorate as my wrists hurt like hell. They sent shock waves up my arms and sent my hands into a locked spasm at night and no movement or meds could get rid of the pain.
I also didn't think I had the patience to decorate I was the bung it in the kiln kind of person, single fire, no glaze, straight up sometimes without drying them out first. I loved the clay part, the squiginess, the silky smoothness, the porcelain, the whiteness, the making part, the decorating was a bit of a wam bam with a bit of oxides and that was about it. All in all I loved playing with mud and what could be done with it.
So I needed to look at ways of sustaining being an artist, potter, designer maker, call it what you will but it was my life I fought to go back to college and train as a not so mature student and this is what I wanted all along so I needed to fight to keep it.
So loads of discussions about slab rollers and the like I took the plunge but to be honest I can't get on with it. It's hard work and instead of just my hands and arms the rest of the body was needed and with an auto immune disease it can be just about any part and at any point it's unpredictable and unfair but hey ho. And the porcelain didn't like it. It tore, creased, stuck to the cloth just about anything it could to not be a flat sheet. So then I tired slip casting. And if you know me well you know my relationship with plaster is a bit love/hate but that's a whole different blog to be honest. So with the support of Dylans Mum and Cumbria College of Art and Design I was accepted on the AA2As. It was a hard few weeks but I came out with some forms that I was going to cut and manipulate into domestic ware like that happened ever! I was so taken by the new clay, parian that I was in awe of its whiteness and translucence that I just cast and cast with little thought of the decoration.
Anyone who knows me has seen I have a sketchbook large or small about my person or in the car at all times it's something I started at college and have never stopped. I have loads and in them sketches, scribbles of things around me mainly animals as I am a frustrated animal sculptor and flowers from the garden or flowers to grow in the garden to alleviate my extortionate floral bills for shows. I think it was Christine Cox who once said if the pots don't work you can always become a florist!
So the decals were ordered of my birds and flowers to go on the slip cast pots. These were my new line that I launched at BCTF back in 2010.
They were a hit with 9 solid orders to both new and old galleries I was buzzing to say the least about it all and was really happy but that's when Arthur (pet name for AIA) takes you by surprise. It wasn't stable so I was put on different meds which suppress the immune system as it thinks I have psoriasis on the inside of my joints so it trying to destroy the bad cells where this isn't any if that makes sense. I think I fulfilled 5 of the orders but couldn't repeat them as I was changing meds like the wind so ups and downs went on. I soon realised though as I was aspiring the pieces to be round they were all different apart from the decal drawings which tried to make them look uniform. I didn't really like that I wanted each one to be unique and started looking at hand drawing on to the clay.
So new work was born. This is where I really got into the decoration side. Why did I love drawing in my sketchbooks why could I not do that on clay? I bought some underglaze pencils and had a play the lines weren't as sharp but I could live with the more painterly style. But though I love these a lot they still take up a lot of time and not always come out of the kiln successfully. I bisque, then have to prepare the surface for drawing which it the worst as I am a notorious dropper of pots. Then I sit and draw on them for hours before firing to 1280 degrees C. This is when I open the kiln and they warp like a really really warpy thing so the price for each piece had to rise to cover breakages, warping, time, cost of clay and the like hence the lines being quite expensive. So this is where my lovely friend Helen Russell stepped in and mentioned bone china blanks. I know I know there are a few places that I can not sell as I did not make them but there's a gap in my pricing that today needs to be filled for those of us who have to pay the gas bill first before buying really expensive but beautiful pieces me included. So the new lines have been created just a sample to see if there is a market. They still are my work just a little different. I still fire the decals of my drawings on to 1000 degrees C so they are still dishwasher safe and are based loosely on my leaf print tube vases which to this day are my best and biggest seller.
So we now have a few ranges with my older decals on to see if there is the market. Please let me know your thoughts on this. Are they something you would buy? If not why not? and what would you like to see? I am currently looking at making the cow parsley into larger decals for a range of jugs? yes? Feedback is always gratefully received and lets me know if I am on the right track. I am also looking into getting prints done of my drawings though I am not sure when or how I am going to do this so if you have a preference hares, cows, longhorns, foxes etc or a favourite drawing then let me know and I will see what I can do. I have a selection of greetings cards winging it's way from Moo as we speak as a test run and I will post here when they arrive and give you a chance to see.
The AIA you ask well I am on two injections a week of MTX and Enbrel plus Sulfasalzine it has it's ups and downs (those weeks when I feel like I've been run over) but I get by with lots of love and support which I am very grateful for. It's the hand I'm dealt so you get on with it (with a bit of whinging here and there).
Click here to be directed to the shop :-) to have a look at the
ps. oh the slab roller? it's a really expensive table at the moment but I feel I need to utilize it some how so maybe watch this space.