Ceramics part two

On Wednesday I returned to the ceramics class to continue with the coil project. I discovered two problems with this process, both of which can be overcome. The first problem is that if you do not complete what you start in one session the clay gets too dry to bend or fold the flat slab. Even wrapped in plastic and sprayed all week I could not coax my slab to bend without cracking. One of the students did manage to make a vase shape using this technique, but that was because she managed to form it all in one sitting over the course of perhaps an hour.


The second problem, again easily sorted, was that the pressure of creating the slab causes the clay to stick to the work surface, so it is essential that the work is done either on cloth or cling film – cloth will leave a surface pattern on the clay of course. Ideally we should have a plaster slab to work on, which the clay will quickly release from as the plaster sucks the moisture out of the clay, but then you run into the need to work even faster if you want to roll the slab. At the end of the day so many of us loved the patterns and found that they would suit use either as straight forward tiles or as coasters for hot pots or drinks that we opted to leave them flat.


In the afternoon there was a youth group in from Sallynoggin who were shown how to use the wheel. Signal has two pottery wheels, and everyone had a chance to try it and make a small pot or cup. It was hectic and fun.

Afterwards I assisted Ger in loading the kiln with work by artist Michelle Fullham (the kiln can be hired for individual firings at VERY  reasonable rates), and then Ger showed me how to program the kiln to run overnight. It was a glaze firing so I will be interested to see how they turn out! The Wednesday class work should be dry enough to go into the kiln on Monday for a bisque firing so that the students can then begin glazing on the Wednesday.

James Hayes

Ceramics – classes & new shelves

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of being a substitute teacher for a ceramics class. It is a nice group of people who are very enthusiastic about learning new techniques. I showed them how to create coil patterns in a slab pot approach to building. Rather than the traditional coil built pot, you create patterns with coils as a flat rectangle, then keep adding and smearing clay to create one flat slab which can (if desired) then be reformed into a mug or vase shape. We got about halfway through the process, and should be able to have a finished product next week. The classes at Signal are very good value and run by knowledgeable people, so have a look “Classes 2017” link on the website to see what you might be interested in pursuing!


After the class was over I spent the afternoon building half-depth shelves to create more storage space on the existing shelving. It may be difficult to see in the photo, the half shelves look like little benches standing on the shelving, they are very sturdy and there are two more on the units out of view to the right.


There are plenty of other construction and repair projects around the building that I am sure will keep me busy for the foreseeable future, alongside the classes and gallery duties.

Now to get back to work! James Hayes

Exhibition turn over

The exhibitions are taken down late on Sunday, the gallery walls are patched up and painted, and a new exhibition is hung on a Monday morning. On Monday we hung a two person show by artists Ray Cranley and Biddy Scott entitled “The Dargle : So Beautiful”, an absolute pleasure! I was in on Sunday for the take down of Ian Calder’s show, which he was delighted with. He had made a few sales and even had some thank you cards to hand for the buyers. I had not intended to be on the hanging team on Monday, but when I arrived in to do some other gallery work it turned out they were short handed so I pitched in. It ended up being a lovely day. I know Ray, as it seems most people in Bray do, so the day was filled with shared stories and insights into art, music, history and current affairs, all concerning Bray and the Dargle River. It was also a pleasure to meet Biddy, whose small egg tempera paintings are wonderfully detailed! The launch would have been scheduled for Good Friday, but as there were concerns that many people would be away for the holiday weekend, they have planned a closing party for the following Friday, April 21st. All welcome, and I know I’ll be attending as I am sure Ray will be talked into singing a few songs.

Your gallery correspondent – James Hayes

Spring cleaning

Signal Arts Centre is a bustling community of artists, and yet the day to day reality of keeping the building in ship shape cannot be ignored. Work rooms get dirty,  storage space is very limited, and large events such as the recent St Patrick’s Day parade leave chaos in their wake. Today I began at the bottom of the staircase and began dusting, hoovering, recycling and trashing my way upwards until I reached the attic. As I passed Claire’s office I told her (Claire is our office commander in chief) that I am already in this frame of mind after months of similar work at home assisting in clearing my wife’s attic studio space of outdated paperwork and years of disorganized correspondence.

I am taking a brief respite at Aidan’s computer, having gathered all the loose scraps of notes together in the hopes that he can decide which to throw away and which have important information. James Nolan and Aidan Lombard head up the digital end of the Signal organisation, managing the website, social media, posters, and the bulletin, a team which I consider myself to have joined by resurrecting this blog. I know that with my own background in digital media I can also fill in any gaps when they are away.

More anon – James Hayes

Learning the ropes

This is my second week here @ Signal and I am starting to find my feet. There is so much going on here! I have known about Signal for many years, being active in the arts community here in Bray, and yet I find myself impressed by the depth of the activity in this small and vibrant arts centre. My plan is to share some of the inner goings on with you dear reader, as I discover them myself. There is more to Signal than a gallery space!

Stay tuned – James Hayes