Sunday 29 January 2012

The week's shipyard and other images

I've been at it all week and still have two boats left to put together tomorrow. How many did I embark on? Here are some of the creations so far.

This one is going to take plants. I have thrown some holders which will locate into the holes in the deck. It should become a sort of plant barge when it is finished.

The honeymooning couple or the hen pecked husband?

A pile of oars, made from extruded sections and then pulled a little,

and a pile of sailors waiting for their oars (and their hair). What a tangle of arms I got into with this one. Everything had to be put together at exactly the right time - the oars stiff enough and the arms bendy enough, but not too floppy. I was late through for supper that night, they couldn't be left until things had been stabilised and they were falling over and flopping with oars bending the wrong way for quite a while. It was hard to have enough fingers and thumbs. At one point I thought that I had put figures in back to front, cut them out again, making a huge mess in the process and then realised that they were right after all!

These fine rowers are now sitting on the swell, perhaps feeling a little seasick

and not at all happy about the upstart in the speed boat.

If I have been having fun this week, this sculptor has most definitely been having fun.

He is kinetic sculptor Johnny White, and has a touring exhibition which we are lucky enough to have at Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries until Easter, entitled 'Beastly Machines'.

Here are some images from the opening on Saturday.
'Thrush Hour' above.

'Fido Dogskiofski'

'The Lifecycle of a Mosquito'

It's the sort of show that children would love, and were loving. A dog which barked honkily when you stroked it's nose, a mosquito peddling a penny farthing. Not to mention the whale with an industrial bottle brush for its spout.

Monday 23 January 2012

Feet, Heads and Waves

There are so many boats to fill that now I have a Head and Feet production line on the go.

Plus a wave factory.

At one point last week I wondered whether I had really overdone it, I wasn't sure what to work on next. It doesn't help that all the pieces are hidden, wrapped in polythene and that I was losing track of which was what. At last I'm feeling that I am getting somewhere, and am reasonably pleased with the progress.

The boats are starting to sail. These two hulls are sitting on the 'swell' which I made by slumping the monster slab into the hammock. It still feels rather like an 'adventure' of a piece and I am not exactly sure how it is all going to turn out though I can see where I would like to go with it.

This is one that I have finished putting together. I was experimenting with placing the boat forward of the wave, leaving it behind. I liked the idea of the wave becoming the speed boat's wake and it seems to give more movement. I am working on a rowing boat which I am placing behind the wave, as it seems that when you are in a rowing boat the next wave is always still to come.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

A Directional Dish and a foam harbour

From feeling that my feet had become irrevocably glued to the long holiday that is Christmas and New Year, I now have so much work underway that every surface in the workshop has been filled.

I am back where I love to be best, happily following my train of thoughts with my hands. Of course not every thought is worth pursuing, but what I like is when a small idea starts to develop through the making process so that often unforeseen happenings unfold with quite unexpected end results.

It's not that I drift around in an unplanned dreamy sort of way, everything is in fact pretty well planned, but when two dimensional ideas become three, especially when extruding is involved I always seem to be quite surprised at the outcome. I think this is why I really love extruding as a making method.

I'm looking forward to finding the right design for this one. It seems to be going in one direction - it has the feeling of a sledge or some sort of weird craft.

Still playing with the boat themes from last year, I needed another size of 'hull' to sit happily on my watery base, so spent some time cutting a new die. I learnt a lot from last summers 'dragon boat' making session and knew this time to include a deck support for this shape. They behaved pretty well once I'd got the clay firmed up enough. The first attempts flopped horribly, so project was aborted until I'd dried flops, sliced sacks out on suction boards and re kneaded. Here they are supported by their foam harbour to firm up. As usual once underway I made far too many, always after the perfect one.

Some long thin boatish dishes and another harbour of coracle type ones in the foam support.

Once the boats have firmed up a little I can turn them over as arches and let them dry to leather hard. A funny thing about our new heating system is that things aren't drying nearly as quickly. But the workshop is warmer?! Maybe it's because there are less drafts. Whatever the reason it's suiting me fine right now since this lot would have me panicking if they were all to dry at once.

This afternoon I cut a die for some sea, so I should get at least some of these sailing tomorrow.

Thursday 5 January 2012

A Muckle Great Slab

Much though I enjoyed the break, it is great to be underway again. I started the year by rolling out the largest slab that the new slab roller could manage. What a monster.

I collected it up by rolling it round one of the fat cardboard tubes that the lino was wrapped round, to slump it into the mould - a cloth suspended in a frame, with three rods beneath to create a ripple. I'm looking forward to tipping it out, hoping that it will look good upside down, as a watery base for something.

Other slabs I draped over some plaster hump moulds and I've been attaching extruded runners to them.

These are going to be wall hanging picture-platters. I was feeling a little blank, distracted by the Christmas break generally and was going to start the year with a batch of throwing to get the juices flowing, but a cut finger put paid to that. In fact it's been good to have launched myself into the bigger stuff as it's really got me back in the making mood. It's exciting to find the ideas and energy come tumbling in.

Plans for the year are taking shape. I have three main events so far to make work for, that is apart from our ongoing showroom, which relies a lot on visitors to the region who may or may not turn up. Who knows with such economic uncertainty around. There is our region's 'Spring Fling' open studio event in June, (four days this year to mark it's 10th year), Earth and Fire at the end of June, then Potfest in the Park in July, all great events but suddenly in terms of kilns they all don't sound so very far away - help!

I wonder sometimes if it would be better not to stop but then again much though I love my workshop it feels sweeter for a break from it. The old fingernails had actually grown quite long over the holiday period which shows either how quickly they grow, or how long it is since I kneaded up clay. They are now back to the usual broken and short pottery workshop variety.

I was enjoying the cacti which were looking particularly lush in the low winter light today.

There is a pot under this bunch, and you can just see the hat of a Mexican peaking out, the rest of the spiral is buried so you will just have to take my word for it that there are donkeys and Mexicans encircling the plants.