Saturday, 9 November 2013

Since Graduation...

Welp, it's been a while.

I got a part time job in Borough

I moved out of Camden.

I moved into Elephant & Castle.

I moved out of Elephant & Castle.

I crashed in a friends' junk room in East Ham.

I finally found a place I can afford, by Burgess Park. I move in on Wednesday. It's been nuts. Trying to get any kind of making going when you don't have a firm base to jump off from is difficult, because when you're constantly moving and holding down a job your work clothes and your pillow tend to take priority over a bag of porcelain. Great sympathy for all the other creative nomads trying to make their way in the world while holding down a real job.

This was the last time I touched clay:

Some of my CSM class took over Do Shop in Covent Garden a couple of months ago and I went along to drink free beer and have a play on the wheel. I miss it so much!

Other than that, I managed to make this awesome baby quilt from recycled fabrics:

It's for sale, and will be going up on Ebay very soon with a starting price of £30. Bargain! Speaking of which, I've got a fair amount up for sale at the moment, mainly old art bits and bobs, but also some uncut sewing patterns that I'm clearing out. Go have a look, because I'm desperate for cash. I'm only working part time at the moment and boy do I feel it.

Other than that, I got accepted onto a craft fair in Kentish Town, but had to drop out because I didn't have time to make anything really. I made my own dressing gown but I can't find a photo right now.

Action plan for the future:

  • stop moving house
  • get studio space or microkiln
  • go to Vienna/Graz for museums/friend
  • keep believing I can actually do this

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Degree show and final project

Well, shows over folks. I am officially no longer a student of Central St Martins School of Art and Design. No more can I say "I'm a ceramic design student". Now I have to say "urm, well I went to art school and now I work crappy office jobs ad-hoc under the delusion that I will save the money I earn and eventually finance my dreams."

I kid, I kid.

The Degree Show ran from Tues 18th to Sun 23rd of June and was honestly the most exhausting period of my life. I feel like I've had a kid here- weeks of build up and tiredness and hard work and now I'm still tired, I just have something that I can show people. This week involved show take-down and then setting up for New Designers. Given that I'm posing for a painting on Sundays, I don't think I've had a day off in at least 3 weeks.

I still look fabulous though.

 That dapper fellow is my classmate Giuseppe Parrinello. Props to us for choosing such a crap backdrop to pose against.

The show went extremely well, with several people telling us that not only was our display the best ceramic show at CSM they'd ever been to, but that it was the best display up across the college in Show Two. Lots of buzz on Twitter!

Of course, because I've been drowning in my final project, I haven't updated this blog in forever, so unless you came here via my show, you probably don't have a clue what it was all about. My collection is called Showdown and consists of a sculpture collection with 4 large handbuilt pieces and accompanying commercial slip-cast pieces. The name comes from the showdown taking place on three different levels:
-my sculpures are characters representing environmental  issues, with 2 villians and 2 victims. This is a showdown between them.
-a showdown between 2 different sides of my ceramic personality- the commercial/accessible world of slip casting and the exclusive fine art side of handbuilding
-at it's core, the showdown is between 2 different aspects of my own personality- my nerdy side with all the love of animation/videogames/action figures/neon and my hippy-dippy grow-you-own-quinoa let's eat vegan brownies side.

Here are the characters:

The Cuter Polluter is a little pollution cloud who hops from place to place causing havok as he goes and leaving a trail of poison in his wake. But he gets away with it because he's so cute! 

The Human Bean is an entity that exists only to eat and breed. Put the right two together and they soon multiply out of control and exhaust whatever resources they are able to access. 

Thaw is an iceberg who's melting much more than he should because of a change in temperature caused by climate change. 

Stumpy is all that's left after a band of rogue loggers tore through her woodland home.

So those are my sculptures which are fairly big in size. For scale, I guess the Human Bean is about the size of a jumbo loaf of tiger bread, or maybe even two taped together. Listen, I don't know measurements. Today I'm so tired I'm not even sure of my own name any more.

My commercial collection are not so huge, Stumpy is about the size of a grapefruit. The idea was that they came in a range of finishes and were blind boxed so the consumer knew which form they were getting but not which finish. This is in reference to vinyl toys, which were a huge inspiration for this project.

All the pieces are for sale (I did sell a couple of slip cast Cuter Polluters at my show), so get in touch if you're interested. I'm hoping to take this lot out to a few exhibitions over the summer, and hopefully send off at least most of the small ones to new homes.

But for now, I'd just like a sleep...

Monday, 4 March 2013

Last Term Portfolio Round Up

As promised, my final works from last term. I'm not going to go into detail explaining each one. These are all made in vitrified porcelain, unglazed by high fired to a satin finish.


"Decisions, Decisions"



Sunday, 17 February 2013

Updates and Portraits

So, after a 2 month blog absence (uh-oh!), let's get the ball rolling with some Important Updates:

  • I finally bought a proper domain name, so you can find me at (go on, type it into your URL bar right now!). Eventually, when I can find the money and the right web designer, I will have a proper website and this blog will be archived on there along with proper portfolios and lord knows what else.
  • As of this morning, I am on Twitter! It's going to be a networking tool for me, and maybe a vehicle for stalking celebrities. When I get my new phone I'll be able to blab all I want on there.
  • My degree show dates have been confirmed as Wed 19th-Sun 23rd June. Scary! Our degree show has a facebook page which you can like for updates.
  • I have become an informal intern to Anna Barlow, the artist I profiled in second year who makes fantastic ceramic food items. This means that when she needs me to, I come over to her studio and help her out with little jobs like making tiny sweets out of porcelain!
And now that's out of the way...

Yesterday, I went into uni to pack up my work from last term. No one else was there- nearly all the 3rd years are either in Frankfurt or Paris at the moment. My coffee date for the afternoon had cancelled so I had nothing to do all day (except go home and clean or go for another 8k run, and who wants that?). Luckily, help was on hand in the form of Joshua Press, a local artist who I'd seen in the Camden New Journal who had been invited to paint in the public space at the front of CSM, as part of an ongoing... thing... called Black Maria which I have been happily ignoring every day on my way in.

So I hung out there and watched a friend of Josh get her portrait painted, and then sat for my own one.

I love Josh's style with the bold, faceted sections and fairly muted colours. Think I may have freaked him out a little bit with how still I can sit though! It was a great experience, a few other artists were hanging around so we chatted away about art and education and languages and all sorts.

The painting in the middle on plywood is the one I watched come into creation:

I wish I'd got a better photo of the earlier one, the un-primed plywood Josh painted on gave a really cool effect to the brushstrokes, where the bled into the cracks in the wood.

Afterwards we went back to the Cob Gallery, which is where he is based, and hung out for a bit with Hayden, another artist working there. It was uplifting to be around non-ceramicists for once, I hate to say it but it's true. Sometimes when you're stuck in a studio with no natural light, no connection to the outside world, and surrounded by the same (disclaimer: lovely!) people, it can make you feel rather trapped and stuck in a rut. Just spending a day removed from that has been really helpful.

I will try to update y'all on my own work soon- some of it needs another firing because it didn't go high enough. It's hard for me to update at the moment as halfway through my dissertation my laptop committed suicide and I had to buy a netbook which doesn't have the best processing capabilities. I know, I know, excuses, excuses.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Muddy rose garden cakes

It won't stop raining, the sky is dark 99% of the time, and everywhere I look the ground is turning into a quagmire. I hate this time of year when the sky is clear and it's frosty. Well, I hate this more. It's miserable, and I'm pretty miserable too.

In between the wallowing and the wailing and the procrastinating (my dissertation is due on the 8th of Jan) I turned on the TV to catch one of those cake shop programs, you know, the ones that have got really popular recently. This one was about a shop in Brighton where they make amazing cakes out of chocolate, and this episode showed an apprentice making roses out of white chocolate. They were pretty amazing, and a very simple technique, so I made some of my own out of fondant.

The technique is thus:
-roll a small piece of fondant/gum-paste/modelling chocolate/porcelain into a ball
-flatten it out into a circle
-roll that circle up to create the centre of the rose
-make more petals the same way and squish them onto the edge of the centre

The bottom of the rose will have a little peak on it, you can cut this off with a sharp knife before you put it on a cake. I made some leaves too.

The icing here is a buttercream made with about a 60:40 ratio of icing sugar to cocoa powder, and they're just boring vanilla cupcakes underneath. Pretty though! I'm going to try this technique in clay when I get back in the studio, definitely.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Chalkboard Christmas Tree

Because I live in a small flat, am broke, and will be at some point returning back to my parents' house for Christmas, I didn't really see the point in getting a Christmas tree. A live one would be neglected and a fake one would just be another thing to pack up when I move out of here. But without decorations my poor little flat was not getting in the seasonal spirit at all, so I came up with this hack.

All you need is a chalkboard, some chalk, led lights, and some tape. There's a chalkboard painted on the wall in my kitchen, and I already had some led lights that I'd stuck up round my bathroom mirror, so I just peeled them off.

Now you just draw the outline of your tree in chalk, and stick up the lights with liberal amounts of sticky tape.

Sorry for the blur, my camera was struggling to overcome the crap lighting in my flat. 

Then you just put in your batteries or plug in your lights, and voilĂ ! One lit Christmas tree.

Here's another angle showing the amount of tape I used:

And that's it. Very quick, super easy, good option for anyone who has no space, time, or money to be messing around with a big tree. There's nowhere to really put presents, but that's okay because I'm not going to be here on Christmas day.

You could probably also do this on a pin board marking out the tree with ribbon or coloured tape. Be careful not to pin through the wires though!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Character Building

Earlier this week I made my first ever large head sculpture, following along with a how to sculpt faces book. For a first attempt it was okay, but I wasn't happy, partly because it looked just like a smaller head I'd made in porcelain the day before and I was starting to worry that maybe this was the only face in the world I could sculpt.

So yesterday, over the course of 5 hours, I tried again. The material is just the standard buff clay that we have in the workshop, nothing fancy. Here is a basic step by step of how to make a character bust. The most fun in this project clearly comes from seeing how many styles of headdress you can make from a j-cloth, as you will see.

Start by modelling the shape of the bust and neck, paying attention to details like collar bones and trapezius muscles.

Gouge out indents with your thumbs for eye sockets, then add blobs of clay for mouth and nose.
Add small coils of clay for brows and cheek bones. Blend the cheek bones in well. This photo shows the left cheekbone before blending.

Sculpt in the detail on the nose and then the mouth.

Add blobs of clay for eyes, blend in.

Open up the eyes with a tool, dragging the clay up to form an upper lid...

...then add small blobs of clay and blend to reform the curve of the eye.

Okay, so the face is looking pretty good right now:

But because I don't want to make a plaster copy or mould of this piece, I just want to fire it, I need to hollow her out so she dries more evenly and doesn't blow to smithereens in the kiln. It's possible to hollow out the bottom of the bust by carefully tilting the piece up, but you can't get inside the head this way. So it's lobotomy time!

Go to town with a loop tool, reciting the phrase "Chilled monkey brains" as you do.

Reattach, and it's like it never happened. Let's get working on the hair. Coils can be attached around the scalp to form the hair line, and then flat pieces of clay added for any hair that lies flat on the scalp. At this point I noticed her head was drooping a bit and compressing the neck, so I tried to support it with a blob of clay under the chin. Plaits and hair tendrils can be made from coils, but they will be extremely delicate.

She's looking a little plain, so let's add some details to tell us a little more about her character, like a circlet and the edge of her dress.

Give your character a name- this gal is Cassandra- and she's done: