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.