Wednesday 29 October 2014

A Fish A Day Challenge

When I was designing new sushi plates many years ago, I was really obsessed with getting a nice fish scale pattern for my plates. Today I am a much different person: I am obsessed with fish-shaped plates.

For quite some time, I have been looking for the best shape and texture for my new fish plates. To be honest, I never really dedicated a lot of time to this creative fish quest. "Fishing" has always been something I would do while working on other projects.

So, I decided to change this. In order to find the best possible fish, I will make a fish a day for the whole month of November. To make it more interesting, I will post the fish of the day on my blog, as I make it. I would like to explore both shapes and textures for my new fish-plate line. The primary goal is to make fish in all conceivable shapes and sizes, using many different techniques and clay bodies.

However, I will not make only plates during this marathon. I hope there will also be fish-pendants, fish-bowls, fish-tiles and whatever fishy comes to my mind.

When I wrote to my friend in clay Melker Hansson about the project, he sensed there was something fishy about it and immediately joined the challenge. So it seems there will not be one, but two Fish A Day Challenges running for the whole November.

To quote Melker, May The Clay Be With Us on this fishy challenge.

Thursday 23 October 2014

Steel Blue

This is the colour that speaks to me the most lately. During the summer I may have craved unpredictable turquoise but autumn has captured my heart in this steel blue with a subtle hint of lavender. It is funny that its name connotes a cold and chillness and all I can feel is deep warmth and affection when seeing this colour.

This autumn I will wrap myself in steel blue.

Friday 17 October 2014

Motherhood, Rituals And Sacred Places

Rituals are something you learn to appreciate when you became a parent. Rituals keep babies and toddlers happy. Rituals make sure that parents don’t lose their sanity.

I am not going to write about the rituals involving my son. I will write about my own ritual; about the one precious morning hour that I spend in my studio just by myself. Every morning I wake up at 6 AM when everybody in the house is still asleep. I am literally sneaking downstairs and being very careful not to wake my boy. Did I mention already that we live in an old house with some nasty squeaking stairs? So, I am tiptoeing my way down to my studio. I am not doing any ceramics because I am still wearing my pyjamas. Sometimes I write down my thoughts or sketch some new forms.  Mostly I just sit and enjoy the stillness of an empty and dark studio.

This is the time when I get the most creative ideas. This one hour gives me the necessary energy to go through the day. This way I can start my day as an artist. If my boy is awake before me, I am immediately forced into mama-mode and my day will probably be a mess.

On the days when I don’t manage to be productive in my studio, this one hour makes it up. Do not get me wrong: I love being a mother. I love everything about my son and our life. It is just that once you become a mother you kind of lose your own identity.

So I can spend my days cleaning the mess, visiting playgrounds, cleaning the mess, cooking fresh and healthy meals, cleaning the mess and talking about poop, as long as I have my one precious hour a day as an artist.

Monday 6 October 2014

The Art Of Making Porcelain?

Some twenty years ago I read in an industrial or technology magazine that potters in old China used to urinate in their porcelain mass in order to achieve higher level of elasticity of porcelain.

Unfortunately I cannot name the source of this discovery any more. All I can remember is that it was a serious scientific technology magazine.

The art of making porcelain clay was one of the best treasured secrets of the old China. It was only in 18th century that the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger accidentally discovered porcelain – the white gold. Once the West had the recipe, many porcelain manufactories were established under the protection of different European monarchies.

Even though western manufactories knew the secret of making porcelain clay, European porcelain was never as elegant and with that certain vitality possessed by the old Chinese porcelain. Here, one can say that the Chinese mastered the art of making porcelain for many centuries before the Europeans did and because of this long tradition they made better-quality porcelain.

However, it was just a few decades ago that modern technology solved the ancient mystery: the Chinese used to urinate in their porcelain batch.

According to the magazine, the crystals of the ammoniac from the urine produced a favourable chemical reaction with the feldspar, kaolin and quartz which gave the porcelain more elasticity.  

So, this was the only time that I read about this phenomenal discovery. None of the potters or ceramic artists to whom I talked about it have ever heard about it.

Potters can have some strange biases. Once I read that there was a potter who had a dog whom he loved very much. When the dog died he cremated the dog and made the glaze out of his ashes with which he glazed a mug which he uses every day to drink his morning coffee. Even though this may seem macabre to some people, I am OK with it.  However, I still haven’t tried this ammoniac experiment with porcelain.

Note: I can feel a certain relief from all the friends and customers who ever bought any porcelain from me.

I can imagine that you will never look at your old China with the same eyes again. So, are there any crazy potters who would try this crazy pee experiment?