The great thing about the ceramics class (I believe) is that once the basic building techniques are understood there is lots of room for creativity and imagination. Case in point, last week I showed my class (and Gill’s as I was covering for her while she is on holidays) how to build very organic vases using rolled slabs. They jumped on this idea and ran with it! I am always delighted and impressed with the broad range of work that can be created given the same set of instructions. They followed up my basic ideas by also rolling various textures, flowers and leaves into the clay.
Another bit of work that goes on in the background is reclaiming the many half full or almost empty bags of clay, putting like with like, and rejuvenating clay that has gone dry.
The ceramics area of Signal Arts Centre is an ongoing project that many of the staff and the classes make the most of. Aside from the adult classes that Gill and I are running on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons the room and facilities are also used by visiting youth groups (facilitated by Michelle Fullam and Greg Murray), the various art classes (kids art, Carmona, Rehab, Sunbeam and Purple House), and can be hired by individuals outside Signal. This means that there is a need for up-to-date stock of the materials (clays and glazes) and ongoing servicing of the equipment.
We like to think that the official face presented by Signal is the reality and that everything is smooth sailing, but to achieve that face takes a lot of hard work and not everything goes according to plan… When someone hires the kiln usually everything turns out fine, but on one recent occasion the glazes used did not agree with the kiln! The artist involved told us the temperature to fire to, but they must have got a detail wrong on the glaze spec sheet because the glazes ran and stuck the pots to the kiln shelves. This meant that the pots had to be chipped off the shelf and then I had to grind back the left over shards of ceramic and glaze.
Before anyone points out the obvious, yes this wouldn’t happen if the shelf had kiln wash on it. That is my next priority, as aside from this unprepared shelf, most of the other shelves need a fresh coating of kiln wash.
On a more positive note, with the recent visit of the Pride of Place judging panel we gave the ceramics room (and all of Signal) a good clean and I set up examples of student work to show the judges. I included examples from each stage of the process, from un-fired clay to bisque fired clay to the finished high fired and glazed pieces.
I took the opportunity to document how the backyard can look when it is all clean and organized.
A lot of people from the various community groups that Signal is involved with showed up for the Pride of Place judging panel, to show their support and to give testimonials.
I thought the Pride of Place day went very well and we have high hopes that we may win an award for Signal. Fingers crossed!