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?
We didn't make this! Got to say this up front because it's so beautiful and also because I know sometimes we scroll through IG without tapping on "read more"!
So this is a lovely resin book we commissioned @enchantedemporium._ to create for us, which says a lot because I'm one of those makers who really resists buying stuff, especially those things I feel I can conceivably create on my own. But I just really wanted this so much and I know her dreamy seascapes are still very much beyond me!
Sep 18 marks the 6th anniversary of Studio Asobi! 🙌
By the unmerited grace of God, we are on this wonderful adventure that we never envisaged for ourselves. There are endless things to give thanks for; and in my weakness, there have also been times (too many!) where tiredness, frustration, and worries have crept in.
Today as I was doing glazing, I was listening to a sermon and these verses were mentioned:
Luke 12:25-26 says "And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?"
What fantastic words! How liberating! It is a constant process of recalibrating to this truth.
Actually sometimes I feel very silly when I sit down and really think through about whatever is bothering me. As the meaning of our child's name goes - God is good. And God is really good! All the time!
Life is so exciting; thanks for journeying with us too:)
Special thanks to @bellybokeh for the pictures!...
Once in awhile we find some time to make some things for ourselves! If all goes well, this is going to be a tray for our washing liquid and hand soap in the kitchen, with the little winding river helping to drain water into our sink!...
Our very first ceramic hairpin (发簪)! And also the first time we fired a hanging piece using nichrome wire.
There's always a first time for everything, and it is a really sweet feeling when the first time turns out well!
To be honest, I'm not instinctively courageous when it comes to experimenting. Often I have to almost verbally announce to myself that something can be done, that it is ok to fail, that it is worth the effort, before trying something new. So I'm thankful for clients who don't share the same concerns as us!
If you are wondering about the design, it's a word "名" in the form of a heron. Inspired by the name of the lady that this thoughtful gift is going to.