Made this little vessel out of leftover clay from our workshop, to try out some carving techniques. It wasn't particularly spectacular, so we used it to try out a glaze, and then we thought it could be quite useful as a pen/brush holder. So now it has left the shelves, and arrived at our table.
I realize that over the years, it is usually these random, average looking clay vessels that we end up using the most, and loving the most.
Final testing on our local clay tiles for a residential project we are embarking on! Really pleased that after some tweaking of the process and formulas, the tiles came out flat, the slip didn't crackle, and the colours are beautiful (at least to us haha)!
Depending on what kind of person we are, crackles on a glaze can be seen as either a defect or a thing of beauty. Or maybe a "beautiful defect" if we can simultaneously hold these two concepts in our minds!
So here's our first foray into a third family of studio glazes, after the more conventional glossy and matte families. Crackle glazes expand and contract significantly at high temperatures, and so do not fit well with the clay bodies underneath. This resultant stress causes the glaze surface to form a network of beautiful little cracks when cooling.
It's such a wonderful feeling to make these discoveries as we experiment with clay! Really grateful for this season of our lives.
This has got to be the most challenging vessel I have ever thrown on the wheel. 1600g, 30cm (H) x 6cm (W). A 5:1 ratio cylinder with an inner diameter significantly narrower than the width of my hand.
So this is how my day went. After we dropped Tobie off at school, we had breakfast, and I started making this around 10am. After 4 failed attempts, it was 2pm and I suddenly got a call from an elderly church friend who had a fever and needed help getting to a doctor. Huiwen thought it would be a good idea to give my clay-soaked, wrinkled fingers a rest, and so off I went on an excursion to Joo Chiat.
At 5:30pm, I came home, showered, and tried again. Another failed attempt, and then it was time to entertain my boy whom I had promised to take to the park after school to play at the sand pit. So I cut up my piece, analyzed my mistakes, and went on another excursion to Punggol Park.
At 10pm, I returned home with my wide-awake son, showered away his grime and left him to the capable hands of my wife to be dispatched into dreamland, and embarked on one last try.
It's now 2am.
Moral of the story - with clay, there are times where it's pointless to keep trying. Just got to rest, recuperate, and fight again.
And also, there are only so many times in this life that my boy would ask me to take him to the playground. Work can always wait....
Amidst the quiet moments of creation and the lively moments of hosting guests in our home, here is a shot of the sweaty, sometimes frustrating moments when time and effort is spent just getting things back to normal.
For a home studio like ours, these moments include mopping the floor, washing the clothes, wedging the clay, and less frequent but more complex tasks like deciding that our kiln elements have reached the end of their road, and spending a whole afternoon taking things apart and putting them back.
One of the reasons why we refrain from having workshops everyday and taking on too many commissions is because we feel that all these mundane or maintenance things that happen in the background still deserve our attention, our joy, and our peace. Of course, it feels bad to turn down requests, and often we question ourselves if we are being less hardworking than we should be.
But for now at least, this feels like the right approach, so that we can continue being a home and a studio that is filled with love and joy!...
Who knew that making flat things was so difficult?
Here are some tiles we are testing out for a project, and they are nothing complex - regular rectangular tiles covered with a layer of local clay. But the thing about clay is that it contains lots of water, and when water evaporates, the clay shrinks. Laying a flat piece of clay on a flat surface often means that it dries up faster on one side, causing uneven shrinkage and a warped surface. Getting slabs to shrink evenly is something we haven't quite mastered, and so this project is surely going to accelerate our learning curve!
Air is thinner here
Above the swirling river
I just hear my breath
"Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?"
This is a profound verse about God and humans that I can't pretend to understand fully, but I am a potter and the words resonate with me. We made this piece together because one of us is more comfortable with sculpting, and one of us is more comfortable with glazing. And now we have something we both love, and which is to be a tray for our dishwashing liquid. The winding river drains excess water into our sink.
Is it a beautiful thing that something so mundane is made with such care and attention? Or is it a sad thing that something made with love is put to such a mundane purpose?
What kind of vessels do we see when we look into the mirror?