Sunday, February 28, 2010

history lesson: the willow pattern

The recent work that I have been doing has been inspired by the classic Willow Pattern, as part of a history research unit. After centuries of Europeans importing Chinese and Japanese porcelain to fuel the 'chinoiserie' trend, local potters began to imitate the oriental ware in an attempt to claim back some trade. A company in England perfected bone china (yes, that would include ground bones in the recipe) and then designed their own oriental pattern, using elements from existing designs. The records from the time are unreliable, so no one is sure if it was Spode or Minton who made these important moves in ceramic history, but we do know that it all happened around 1790.

A love story claiming to be a Chinese fable was created to help sell the pattern to sentimental housewives, though Chinese historians have found that such a tale did not exist featuring all the elements in the pattern. More significantly, the star-crossed lovers are blessed with eternal life by the gods, pandering to the English romantics (we do like a happy ending!) but the Chinese would see the eternal life as a punishment for disobeying the powers that be. This animation tells the story very well...

As I've mentioned before, I'm not a fan of the willow pattern, but there are some very clever people out there who have reinvented it;

Robert Dawson for Wedgwood

A clever person in Melbourne (I think?) that I can't find a link for, sorry!

Modern Chinese fables by Love


I was experimenting with my bird design this week, trying to decide how to apply it to my pots. This single bowl got a bit of a beating, with underglaze, acrylic binder for relief work and scraffito. Its strangely messy for me, I'm usually very tidy with my test pieces. I think its because I'm not quite certain how the design will look finished, I can only partially visualize it.


So that Keraflex lantern that I made a couple of weeks didn't fired quite how I had hoped.
We knew it would slump, but had no idea it would go this much.
On the bright side, I know that Duncan EZ Strokes look great on Keraflex!!

Friday, February 19, 2010


Ah the innuendos flying round the studio this morning. We learnt how to make knobs for our casserole dishes.
What a load of knobs
I ended up making a smaller dish for my nestling tableware. Slightly disappointing, I was hoping for a larger one.
Casserole number one, hopefully to coordinate with the nestling tableware.
Casserole number two, which I intend to transform into a Willow style pagoda!
The kiln was too hot for us to unload today, so I shall have to wait til next Thursday to see my lantern!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

my creative space

More pots! A variety of so-called casserole dishes and wasn't very successful in my opinion, our clay had dried just a little and so was MUCH harder to throw with this week. Excuse me whilst my arms drop off.

We spent most of yesterday mixing our own glazes which was fun in a chemistry kinda way.

My Keraflex lantern is in the kiln tonight, I'm praying it survives!

Many thanks to Kirsty at Kootoyoo for the weekly catch up :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

bird brain

I'm developing the decoration for my tableware this morning. Our teacher has introduced us to the Willow pattern (I'll save that story for a later post) for our history unit and encouraged us to make work inspired it. Personally I don't like the pattern, it represents old fashioned, boring ceramics to me (but not when people do clever things like this and this, thats very cool) so my Willow-inspired work is going to be quite abstract from the original, with a simplified bird filled with the intricate patterns that surround the original design.
Using small bowls to test out the designs
Scrafitto maybe?
This one will have the outlines in relief then the patterns painted with cobalt carbonate

Friday, February 12, 2010

RIP Alexander

Mr McQueen, you were an inspiration. This beautiful dress of yours is on my study wall.

cut and stick

These are pots number 1 and number 2 of my nestling tableware set! I'll attempt to make a larger 3rd pot next week. Please excuse the not-so-good photos, I had to borrow the college camera after forgetting my own.

I'm a little worried that the fold might be impractical for baking ware? It looks good though!

I made a new signature stamp too :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

my creative space

Hurrah! I've missed doing my creative space. Its good to be back. I'm super pleased with myself today, having made 5 biggish (big on the Katy Scale) pots today, 3 x 500g, 1 x 550g and 1 x 750g (that was a tricky one). These are the beginnings of experiments for nestling tableware. I'll be chopping and reattaching bits of these tomorrow to make them more interesting.

Go see Kirsty to find more lovely spaces!

Friday, February 05, 2010

diploma of visual arts

My second year at art college has finally begun! The summer seemed to drag by and I found it difficult to be self motivated creatively. I couldn't be happier to back in class :)

Our new term started with learning how to make signature stamps. Lets hope they look good the right way round...
New test tiles using porcelain as well as stoneware

Experimenting with Keraflex porcelain. I made dozens of paper lanterns like these when I was little, it would be lovely to have a permanent one in porcelain. Lets hope it doesn't slump too much in the firing.