Sunday, 13 December 2009

Recent Work

Some images of work from my latest firing. The first two are variations on a theme using the combination of salts that I am familiar with, and the third is one of the first of my new blue pots.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

I A C Membership & A New Article Published

I was honoured last month to have been accepted as a member of the International Academy of Ceramics. The above images from their website.
I have also had a new article on developing translucent bodies published in the latest issue of Ceramics Technical (no 29) This excellent journal, originally from Australia, is now published in the US

Saturday, 7 November 2009

It's Coming on Christmas......

A selection of my work that will be available at the Gauteng Craft and Design Centre, Sandton from November 18th at 6:00 pm. The show 'Coming Together at Christmas' is a collaboration between Ceramics Southern Africa and the Gauteng Craft & Design Centre.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Turbulent Indigo

A new colour test. Dark dramatic blues reminiscent of stormy summer skies created from stronger solutions of cobalt chloride with touches of ferric and barium sulphate. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Something Slightly Different

A new piece, this time I have first banded wax, before decorating with more wax followed by brush strokes made with solutions of Potassium Dichromate and Ferric Chloride

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Ceramics S A Regional Exhibition

The C S A regional exhibition opened on Monday evening, at the Edoardo Villa Museum on the University of Pretoria Campus. I was asked to be one of the selectors for the work, together with Jerice Doeg and Harrie Siertesema and Wilma Cruise was the awards judge. The standard, for a regional exhibition was high and a number of awards were presented to amongst others, my colleague Eugene Hon, Hazel Sherman, and Karen Murray. The premier award was presented to Dale Lambert, whose work is pictured above - delicately thrown and 'etched' porcelain pieces.
 Congratulations to everyone who participated in this show, contributing to the overall success of the exhibition.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Staff Show, University of Johannesburg

Once again we have the staff exhibition at the University of Johannesburg. This year the focus is on practice-based research. The title of my installation showing my process is 'The development of Soluble Salt surface treatments on Bone China'

Sunday, 20 September 2009

2 More Pieces

Two more images of recent work. Here I have used my favored soluble salts again, namely cobalt and ferric chloride and potassium dichromate. The salts are used on the bisque fired surface before firing to top temperature. The image below is a new tea bowl form. 

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Another New Piece

This piece is, as is most of my current work, cast in bone-china and decorated with a combination of wax-resist and cobalt and ferric chloride and potassium dichromate.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Exploring Glazes

I will be running a short course in glaze development at the University of Johannesburg later this month. Click here for full details.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

A New Piece of Work

After a few posts favoring method, hints and tips, I thought it was time to show a new piece of my work.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

3 Steps to Better Slipcasting

1. Always check the s.g. of your casting slip. keep it at 1.70 at least. That means 100ml of slip should weigh at least 170g

2. Once the s.g. is correct adjust the fluidity with a deflocculant such as Dispex. Even if using sodium silicate for deflocculation I find a few drops of Dispex markedly increase the fluidity giving better casting results

3. If you are using molds that have not been used for some time a fine misting of water on the casting surface will help prevent air bubbles in the cast

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Wax Resist on Bone China

When using wax resist on my work I find it easier to see the design if I add a one or two coloured candles to the mix. The mix I use is 2 parts candles to 1 part paraffin (kerosene), The mixture is heated to a liquid and brushed on to the work. Take care not to overheat the mixture as it is highly flammable.

Once the wax is applied the piece is washed with a solution of Cobalt Chloride and fired to 1260oC giving the result seen here.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Latex Resist Technique

This is the first of a series of 'how-I-work'  posts.
Here I use rubber latex as a resist method that I apply with a squeeze bottle(see insert in image). After applying the designs rinse out the nozzle with water.
The image shows a few bone china pieces with trailed resist decoration. Once the latex is dry I apply a soluble salt solution, in this case a 10% solution of cobalt chloride and fire to 1260oC

The fired piece showing the fine line created by latex resist

Monday, 17 August 2009

Communication 2

This is a brief tag on to yesterday's thoughts. I am sitting at the computer while listening to Kath Bloom's most recent album 'Terror'. I am completely seduced by it. This is by no stretch of of the imagination mainstream music. For me the appeal is the complete honesty not only of the music but also in the performance, the baring of the heart which in turn registers deep within me. This is what I would call true communication. 

The ceramics of Sandy Brown elicit a similar response in me. 

It takes courage to stand in these places of extremely personal expression.

Look at Sandy Brown's work and give a listen to Kath Bloom.

What are your thoughts on this?

Sunday, 16 August 2009


It’s ultimately all about communicating. No matter what creative endeavour occupies our time we are doing it to communicate. Sometimes it is a specific message we want to convey, and sometimes it’s like shouting out to whoever’s listening “Hey notice me!”

I have been considering my work lately with the idea of communication in mind. Looking at what precisely I want to communicate through my work.

Particularly when I am decorating my pots I feel I am in touch with an aspect of the unconscious. In this place I experience vulnerability coupled with the freedom and joy of self expession. I am hoping that this is transmitted to the viewer of my work in some way, and if it is then the communication is successful.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Roundup of the Past Week

This is one of the pieces that is on the exhibition 'Ceramic Convergence' now on at OBJEKT in Parktown North, Johannesburg.

My work on show at the Ceramics Southern Africa display at Decorex in Johannesburg

A view of the 'Ikons' exhibit at Decorex in Johannesburg

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Ikons at Decorex Johannesburg

This year I was honoured to be chosen as one of the Ikons of South African craft at Decorex Johannesburg. Each of the 17 Ikons selected had a panel on show together with a selection of their work. The total effect was quite stunning and this is the panel that was produced for me.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

A Convergence, an Exhibit and a Display

What a week this promises to be! Firstly I am part of the exhibition 'Ceramic Convergence' together with friend and colleague Eugene Hon as well as Lesley Anne Hoets and Gemma Orkin. The exhibition opens on Thursday 6.00pm at Objekt in Parktown North, Johannesburg, South Africa. If you are in the vicinity come and take a look at this most exciting show.

Secondly on the same date, I am honoured to have been asked to be a part of the 'South African Craft Icons' show at Decorex. And finally also at Decorex on the 6th my work will be on show at the Ceramics S A display.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

More New Work

July has been quite a month as far as producing work goes. I am busy making for an exhibition opening at 'Objekt' on August 6th as well as for 'Decorex' opening on the same day. These are 3 pieces that were in yesterday's firing.

Monday, 13 July 2009


At last I have some new images to post. I am currently working for an exhibition at 'Objekt' in August, more details about this in a later post, but for the present here are a few images to whet the appetite.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Clementina van der Walt & Lisa Firer

I have been out of sorts lately so no new posts of my work right now. I am getting back into the work though so shortly I will be showing some new images, but for now I want to mention two events that took place on the last two weekends.

On the 20th of June I went to the opening of Clementina van der Walt's new exhibition at the Kim Sacks Gallery in Parkwood, Johannesburg.

The work in the main part of the gallery pulsates with colour and energy which could only be borne of Africa, and this work is juxtaposed with a beautifully elegant display of monochromatic pieces on the other end of the exhibition space. Clementina's work is always a joy to see and if you are in the area I urge you to visit the exhibition before the end of its run on the 12th of July

This past weekend I had the pleasure and privilege of attending a workshop by Cape Town ceramic artist Lisa Firer. I have loved her work for years, and her workshop revealed someone of immense generosity and professionalism. How wonderful it is to see other ceramists sharing their stories and working methods. Her work is dependant on the interplay of light and the extreme delicacy is breathtaking. Visit her website to see examples of her truly beautiful porcelain pieces. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Casting with Paperplaster Moulds

I have remade all my moulds using the incredible paperplaster method (see previous posts) and they are now ready to use. The above images show the screening of the slip before pouring as well as filling the mould. Contrary to the usual practice There is no waiting time before the moulds are emptied of slip. This is done as soon as they have been filled resulting in a very thin cast. The pieces are bisque fired to 1000 C once dry. All fettling is done after bisque firing.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Gratitude, Syncronicity and the Miracle

Towards the end of last month I came across a mention of paperplaster on a website. It sounded amazing and I contacted a number of people regarding this and will be forever grateful to Sandra Black, the renowned Australian ceramist, for responding so generously to my enquiry. I was blown away with her unbelievably detailed reply. She also forwarded my mail to Trudy Golley, who came up with the method.

Trudy Golley also replied and informed me that an article she wrote on paperplaster would appear in the next issue of 'Ceramics Technical' the ceramic journal. I have just read it and it is a complete step by step guide to her process. Talk about syncronicity!

I have made a number of moulds this week using this revolutionary process. It has completely changed my approach to mould making forever. No more cottle problems. Lightweight moulds and most exciting, moulds that can be used the day after making. Truly a miracle

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Blog Of The Month

Carole Epps' great blog Musing About Mud is one of my favourites. Hats of to her for her artist of the day feature that she ran all through April. I came across some fascinating work through that and am appreciative of being one of the artists showcased. I would like to acknowledge the great contribution Carole's blog makes to serving the ceramic community, and also, her own exceptional work which you can see on her blog and at her Etsy store

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Tomorrow is a Long Time

I think one of the things that I so love about ceramics is that time when work is in the kiln. I have not produced anything new for a while having been busy making moulds as well as a setter for each of my forms that I am hoping will maintain the radial symmetry of the work in the high firing that the bone china endures.

Well......Tonight there is work in the kiln!

And it does not seem to make any difference how long I have been doing this, I am always so excited for tomorrow when I open the door.

PS I came across the term 'Paper Plaster Moulds' today in a blog I read. Evidently the moulds are much lighter and easier to store. Sounds too good to be true! If anyone could give me any more info on this I would truly appreciate it.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

That's How the Light Gets In

This image shows the translucency of the work to far greater effect. I love the subtlety of this piece. Sadly though the base is cracked, but at least I can share the image here.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Capturing Translucency

One of the difficulties I have when photographing my work is capturing its translucency. The above image although flooded with light creates a crisp look, although it shows little translucency is and therefor far from the images I am hoping to capture. Something else to add to the to-do list!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Time for Something New!

I haven't produced much work recently but have been busy with Plaster of Paris developing some new forms and moulds. The image above is one of the new forms. I am also developing a series of setters for my work. Until now I have used the subtle distortions created by the firing process as part of the uniqueness of each piece. I am now looking at a variety of setters to use in the kiln so that, if desired, I can keep the original shape during the firing. By the end of this month all the moulds should be complete and dry and the new pieces should make an appearance.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

New Ceramics Magazine

There is a new ceramics publication in cyberspace. Congrats to Deon de Lange for putting together this online magazine as well as a ceramic-focused social network.
Grab a subscription by clicking here.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

5th World Ceramic Biennale, Korea

I am honoured to have this piece of mine selected for the 5th World Ceramic Biennale in Korea (CEBIKO). In total 186 pieces were selected out of 3196 pieces submitted. The exhibition will run at the Icheon World Ceramic Center from April 25th to June 21st, 2009

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Rows of Blank Canvasses

These pieces have been fired to 1000 C ready to be fettled and then decorated. Because of the lack of green strength the body is first fired before any fettling is carried out using wet waterproof sanding paper. Once dry the pieces are decorated first with a wax resist and then painted with various soluble salt solutions. Thereafter the work is fired to 1250 C to achieve vitrification and translucency

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

New Work at Objekt

Some of my most recent work can be seen at Objekt on 7th Avenue in Parktown North, the new design hub of Johannesburg. This venue is a real treasure trove and if you haven't yet been in, a treat awaits you.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Fresh From the Kiln

These pots have just come from the kiln . I am impressed with the increased translucency in these pieces. I am forever experimenting, looking for ways of improving what I do, and this time I altered the firing schedule quite extensively. Thank goodness these things sometimes pay off!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Why Soluble Salts?

Because the metallic salts that I use for the decoration of my work are soluble they add a quality that could not be achieved with traditional oxide decoration. They are absorbed into the body and interact with each other reminiscent of watercolour painting. As you can see from the detail shown, the term watercolors on porcelain used to describe this technique is very apt.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Why Bone China?

Ever since my first experimentation with porcelain bodies, my quest has been the pursuit of whiteness and translucency. Unfortunately in South Africa, where I work, the local kaolins are not very pure. The idea of importing a kaolin did not appeal to me as I have always been determined to make my bodies using local materials. After achieving limited success with porcelain tests, cream rather than white and little, if any, translucency, I experimented with a few bone china recipes.
From the first tests the results were incredible. Whiteness that I had only imagined. It transpires that the bone ash, which makes up a large part of the body, has a bleaching effect on any iron traces in the kaolin, producing a body of extreme whiteness and increased translucency. Recently I have started adding bentonite to the body to increase green-strength. Bentonite, which itself contains small quantities of iron usually making porcelain tests creamier, rendered the bone china, if anything, whiter than it was before the addition.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Currently On Show

A few pieces of my work can currently be seen on the group exhibition 'Oppitafel' at Artspace, 142 Jan Smuts Avenue in Parkwood, Johannesburg. Other Ceramics on show are by: Eugene Hon, Deon De Lange, Karen Sinovich and Nicolene Swanepoel.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

A New Year.... A New Resolution

Well as 2009 begins , it is time once again for the inevitable resolutions. This year I want to consider the word focus. It is my intention to focus on making work, exploring new avenues within that work. I intend to focus on getting my work exposed to as many people as possible. It is also my intention to focus on the joy that doing the work brings. I take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and fulfilled 2009. May all our intentions be realised.