An exhibition for the seasons

I just HAVE to share some images from the current exhibition of artwork by Michelle Fullam. Not only is the work beautiful and imaginative, it is full of inspiration for my ceramics students with a wide range of techniques, forms and colours. On top of all that, many of the pieces (too many to show them ALL) are perfect for this the Halloween season of Samhain. That is the title of the first piece shown here.

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This bust of Samhain and the other busts in the show are “life size” and look down on the viewer from a height. Michelle is also very adept at animal forms, with pigs and sheep, foxes and squirrels, owls and goats.

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Along with the sculptures she also is exhibiting a selection of tiles.

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This leafy face titled “Summer Solstice” with its hints of summer heat and greenery also makes me think of the changing leaves of autumn.

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Perfect for the season are a host of magical and sometimes creepy small critters of the woods water and sky.

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One of her many beautiful crow themed pieces

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“Imbolc” the beginning of spring.

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and “Bealtaine” the beginning of summer.

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Her owls are so full of life and beautiful raku textures.

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Harking forward to the coming winter solstice and Xmas season is a lively wren, king of the birds.

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James Hayes

Ceramics classes Raku

Another raku firing hot on the heels (sorry) of last weeks, this time for the adult ceramic classes. We were lucky in that the rain stopped just as we went to start the kiln.

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Pieces glazed and loaded into the kiln. With 15 students across 4 classes we had loads of work spread out for two firings during the day.

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Watching for that point when all the pots are glowing and the glaze has started to shine.

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Lifting out the hot pots and putting them into the waiting smoker.

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After about 15 or 20 minutes we open the smoker to reveal the work.

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Dousing the still hot pots in water, which many times transforms a dull glaze and reveals its true colours. We also had a few hilarious moments when the hollow animal figures were spurting and farting away hahaha!

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Brightly coloured finished pieces, cool enough now to be handled and given a proper wash. I am always delighted by the variety of results,  how two pots sitting beside each other in the smoker can have completely different surface finishes.

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Once the second firing was put on I laid out the finished pieces from the first firing for everyone to admire and photograph. Everyone was delighted and as an added bonus you have finished pieces to take home!

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James Hayes

Raku Firing

This past weekend the weather cleared after all that rain and we took the opportunity to do a Raku Firing for artist Damien Flood who had been inquiring about doing a raku. He has graciously given me permission to share some images and video (!) from the day. We loaded his prepared ceramics into the kiln for the first of 2 firings that afternoon.

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Our raku setup is quite minimalist but it does get the job done! One gas fired kiln made from an oil barrel, a few kiln shelves for placing hot items on, and a metal bin with lid to act as the smoker. Oh, and a big bag of sawdust.

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Looking through the vent at the top of the kiln we could keep an eye on the progress of the firing. When the pottery starts to glow and the glaze starts to shine you know it is ready. I love how the eyes are glowing in this skull headed figure!

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Once the ceramics are lifted into the smoker and covered in a decent layer of sawdust we then left it to smoke for about 15 minutes.

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An angry fellow popping up out of the ashes.

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When they are first lifted out of the smoker they are all covered in ashes and other debris. Nothing a gentle wash won’t fix. Any area that wasn’t glazed has lovely black and brown swirls from the fire. The glazed pieces develop large “crazed” cracks in the glaze which the smoke then fills with black. The pot in the front right also developed a very interesting crocodile skin texture on the glaze.

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After a quick wash the raku is more obvious. The female figure has a lovely result where right at the hairline the colour transitions from black on her face to brown on her hair. You couldn’t have planned it better, just another very happy accident of the process. Well done Damien!

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James Hayes