Experimenting with process

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This is the main shape I am aiming to create

Ideally I would like to use porcelain to experiment with light, I also want to carry on developing my ceramics skills. My initial idea was to slip cast the form, but I want the form to be quite big as I want to challenge my self with scale this year. To allow light to travel through the porcelain, it needs to be very thin, because the form is so big and porcelain is very delicate, it will struggle to hold the form and possibly slump in the kiln. I was advised to try throwing the base and slump the dipped section in the top, so I started practice my throwing.

After practising making collars as the base, I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be happy enough with my throwing skills for them to be to a professional standard for this project. I was suggested to get someone else to throw a collar for me, but being a maker I find it hard asking others to make work for me.

Another process I wanted to experiment with was the whirler, the whirler is a flat lathe which allows pieces with wider dimensions to be turned.

Here I am preparing the base, this is where I pour plaster for my main piece on top. This was good practice for me to understand how the whirler works, I thought it would be similar to turning on the lathe but it was much similar to throwing as all the stability is in your arms, I also noticed how quick you need to work, the plaster needs to be strong enough to hold it self but still wet enough to turn, there is around 20-30 min time frame to create your work.

Because of this short time frame, I decided to make my own tool as a former, I measured half of this dip to allow me to carve quicker in the plaster.

This form took 20 pints of plaster to make, I was very grateful to have a helping hand from the technician to help me mix and pour enough plaster in time. I definitely did not realise how quick the plaster would set, even with my new tool to help cut time, I still didn’t work quick enough, I should have started turning much quicker. To secure stability, you have to balance your tool on a stick which is pinned to a board behind the whirler, I did not consider the limitation this would cause for my dip. I didn’t go as deep as I hoped because the tool wouldn’t allow me, next time I will need to adapt my tools to allow me to go much deeper into the form.

My next steps was to use plastic porcelain and slump over the mould, because of time restrains and the pressure of making a finished object to a professional standard, i though this piece was too ambitious. It will need many experimentation in the kiln and i don’t want to rush the process.

Because of this decision I decided to make a much smaller bowl for this deadline, using the same form but using the plaster lathe to turn and create a mould to slip cast.

I had difficulty opening this mould, I am not sure why but this resulted in a cracked rim. Because the turned piece isn’t 100% flat, I have to fill the bottom with clay so plaster doesn’t seep through while pouring, I think this is what is causing me problems.

 

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