Edmund de Waal

The Hare With Amber Eyes

Edmund de Waal is one of the world’s leading ceramic artists, with his porcelain held in many major museum collections. His bestselling memoir, The Hare with Amber Eyes, has been described as one of the most astonishing memoirs in recent memory. Here’s a link to his chat with Caroline Baum at the recent Syney Writer’s Festival.
 
 
 
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Edinbane Pottery, Scotland

      Firstly, what a beautiful jug. I love the how the handle has a natural flow from the rim and the way the birds seem to float and soare under the clear glossy glaze. This amazing piece is from Edinbne Pottery in Scotland. I came across their website on the web. 

I fell in love with this piece and unfortunately it had been snapped up by some other lucky person. I hope one day to add one like it to my pot collection. I’ve made contact with Stuart (Edinbane’s Master Potter) and have put an order in for a similar piece when available.

Here’s a link to Edinbane: http://www.edinbane-pottery.co.uk  to check out all their other beautiful pieces.

Inside My Studio

I love checking out other artists’ studios and figure it’s time I share a few pictures of my cosy little studio –  

The next picture is the wall behind the wheels where kiln sits next to a permanent shelving unit my hubby made for me. (The door behind the kiln leads under the house, nothing out there yet – could be room for an studio extension!)

I must admit that when I’m sitting at my wheel or at my workbench I get a great view of the garden and street.

I feel very lucky, as my last studio at our old place was outside and I had to deal with spiders and the odd snake.

That’s it for the studio shots today.

Rustic Range

I have been looking closely at my button sizes for a while now and contemplating a  smaller range. Below is a first sample. This button has diameter of 1.5cm and would be perfect scale for everyday handmade items such as childrens clothing and knitted pieces.

This is the only range of my buttons that will be unglazed. The unglazed porcelain is fully vitrified (non-porous) but the reason for no glaze is to highlight the wonderful texture of the surface of the clay. I have been mulling over options for colouring these little treasures. 

I could hand paint them in underglaze, this would entail painting on 3 coats of colour to each side. Very relaxing, but not the finish I want on the buttons, I think the colour will be too harsh for the small button to carry.

So, it looks like I’m going to colour the clay. This is a longer process, but it won’t interfere  with the feel of the finished product and the colours I should be able to achieve a subtle colour range.

The process:

1. break up some porcelain into small pieces, place in a bucket for a couple of days to let it dry out completely.

2. weigh out 500g of dry clay; weigh out 5-10% of clay weight in oxide (ceramic colourant) and add to the dry clay

                                

4. then add just enough water to cover dry clay (leave this for 1-2 days until clay has taken up the water). Then thoroughly mix the colourant into the reconstituted clay. Tip the sloppy mix into hessian cloth and leave for a couple of days for clay to get back to wedging consistency. (the last picture).

5. Wedge clay, now ready to make into buttons.

I’m going to only make about 6 buttons and test fire these to check the colour is just right. If the colour is too strong I can wedge in extra porcelain to dilute  the colour, but if the colour is too weak, I will need to repeat the whole process of drying, adding water, then colour and drying in hessian. Lucky I love buttons.

Buttons

I don’t know if I would have ended up travelling down this road, but I would like to think it was meant to be. I started making buttons in July 2010 as a close friend asked if I could make some for her. I’m now hooked on buttons. I started out back then with 3 round sizes and 1 square. Today, I have 8 sizes and styles. Below is a tiny sample of some of my buttons:-

                 

The first two buttons are decorated with Japanese tissue and glazed. The third button is unglazed porcelain. (All the buttons are fired to 1300 degrees making them strong and durable).

Vitrified Exhibition

I’m working on some pieces for an exhibition in November. This is a stage of my process that doesn’t normally get shared with anyone but friends and family visiting my studio:-

The clay was rolled and cut and is approximately 3mm thick. The piece was covered and allowed to dry slowly for 2 weeks. Today I have drawn on an image of a crinoid. Next I painted on a layer of shellac to protect the areas of the design I want to keep. Once the shellac was dry I used a moist sponge to wipe back the porcelain. This raises the drawing and once fired the tile will have the appearance of a fossil. (I will include a picture of the finished piece once it’s been through the kiln).

Porcelain Button – a little history

The earliest western buttons were made of earthenware and porcelain pastes (these are extremely scarce today).  Wedgewood made a range of stoneware buttons (Jasperware) that they mounted in copper or steel frames.  Wedgewood was very involved in button production from 1785-1800. 

Buttons reflect when and how they are made. They show what people valued in an era and what the fashion of the time was. Buttons are fun, functional and whimsical. They show the artistry and the humour of their makers and wearers.

Here is a photo of a Jasperware button from Wedgewood: