Saggar Fired Pottery

For the last year I have been experimenting with firing inside a saggar inside my electric kiln.  From the start I have to say anything fired in this method I wouldn’t sell as food safe and to make certain of that I don’t make functional ware with this method, just things that are purely sculptural, albeit quite small sculptures.

So what’s a saggar and what does it do?

A saggar is a sacrificial pot that was originally used in industry to keep ceramic glaze free from ash during the firings, especially with coal as this can make the wares quite dirty.  Unlike industry I use my saggars in reverse, I fill them with combustible materials and the pottery so then I can get different affects as the ash combines with the glaze or the ceramic body itself.

This makes a reduction inside the saggar chamber itself which strips oxygen from the clay body which makes the clay itself change colour.  This sort of atmosphere is damaging to the electric elements in an electric kiln and the saggar protects the kiln from damage

Pictures of the process:

a saggar loaded with pottery

The kiln is loaded with shells in between the layers so then the pottery doesn’t stick to each other in the firing.

seaweed and mare's tail in the saggar

Seaweed and mare’s tail are local to where I live and are very high in silica which means they leave deposits of their own form on the pieces, I don’t tend to just bung it all on top it is more carefully places.

pots in a saggar with everything burnt away

The mares tail is so high in silica some of it remains throughout the firing, but it easily washes away when I clean up the pottery after the firing

pottery stacked to show how few pieces fit in a saggar.

The sagger is a really inefficient way of firing pottery, you can’t really fit much in.

Finished Work

tiles with shell marks left on them

the shells leave a ghosting affect both from their own decomposition and because they leave small oxidised areas where the pottery is protected from the ash and reduction

pottery jar made to look like a rock

I cut my thumb in MAy and couldn’t throw for weeks so made some of these lidded rocks out of solid lumps of clay, these all turned out so different to the thrown work.

saggar fired wonky pot showing oranges, reds and whites

a wonly pot fired in the saggar brings out so many different surfaces and colours

a little wonky pot on a cyclinder

Recently I made some mini wonky pots and pout them on plinths that comes from the bins at my day job, so I trimmed them into circles and stuck them together before sanding and polishing them, they make interesting little bases

budvase on a plinth

I like using some different clays sometimes for example this clay is ES5 which is low in iron so doesn’t take on an much iron flashing in the saggar.

side profile of a budvase

You can see the striations that the mare’s tail left in the glaze, they just help give antooher texture to the potttery.

Posted in experimental firing, Saggar | Leave a comment

Inktober

Every October, artists all over the world take on the Inktober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month.

– Jake Parker

So I decided yesterday that I would do Inktober again this year. Inktober is a challenge created by Jake Parker to try and improve drawing skills with a focus on doing an ink drawing every day in October.

Last year I did a still life every day based with an improvised tool, including some dip pens I made out of clay that had varying success.  I really enjoyed making and finding different tools and even made a few brushes out of various material including my own beard.

ink and bleach skulls

So this is the start of my inktober challenge for 2017

This year I am playing with ink and bleach.  The beach is mixed with water and added to the ink drawing to create different effects.  It is something I did in art school which was really fun and random.

The ink in question is black Quink by Parker as it easily bleaches the colour out, the only thing is it is much more blue than I remember.  The card is like cereal packet card but without anything printed on it so glossy on one side and grey on the other.

Probably limit myself to something like skulls for ease of a theme.

-Joseph

Posted in drawing, Learning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Playfulness

With my work I decided some time again that I wanted to make playful work especially as we has limited time, so why make something serious and stagnant.

It’s about make pots that contain energy and liveliness, which can be difficult in a medium that becomes “set in stone”. I can’t just hand a customer a soft clay pot and touch the fresh clay and let them feel how alive it is, and how the slightest movement can change its form, but I want to leave that impression that it was touched with hands and not just mass made to “perfection” as it were.

So last year I started looking at ways I could play with the imagery of pottery. I started looking at ways I could transpose this idea of playfulness onto my photography and presenting my work but just on a white background.

dandelion in a pot with bokeh plant pots

Pots are so much better in use and I love dandelions they are so bright and cheerfu; and I let them grow in my garden, so I picked one and thought it would look good against the terracotta plant pots in the garden.

little hand stacks cups

The apprentice really wanted to help take photographs so I let him help me set up what I wanted and took photos of him as he went about the setting up as I asked. His hands moving the pots about are far more alive than the ones which I had initially set up to do.

My sons idea of a photography setup

With the props and pottery I had around the apprentice set up this scene as he really wanted his train to be in the pictures. But the colours and the idea of putting things in pots that don’t fit grabbed my attention.

a progression of colour in pots

Inspired by the apprentice I took this shot, looking at it now, I wish the yellow was a lemon or an orange.

Plates hanging on the line

One day I wondered how it would look if I hung some pots out on the line and there is the sense that they could fall and smash that really adds to it. It is just missing some colour, maybe some clothes or some flowers growing in the background.

I really want to play with imagery some more.  I have some weirder ideas in my mind that involve models but they require props I don’t have either so won’t be happening anytime soon. Though I do want to make food to especially photograph on some pieces.

Just wish I had a bit more time to fit everything I want to do in, things are a bit limited due to the day job, but it is what it is.

~Joseph

Posted in photography, Slip, storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stuck in a Loop

Every so often my thinking gets stuck in a loop, thinking the same things over and over and not solving anything. At the moment it is photography there is so much to think about.

I have a to do list which feels extensive

1->I have to set up an on-line shop
-> this requires two things:

  1. setting up a payment method
  2. taking photographs of everything I already have

2->I need to apply to craft/pottery fairs
-> these need a variety of things:

  1. I need to work out what I want to show
  2. make that work
  3. photograph it
  4. write all my artist information

3->Apply to galleries/shops

  1. I need to work out what I want to show (dependant on the place)
  2. make that work
  3. photograph it
  4. write all my artist information
  5. write a personalised pitch and market to them

4-> Start posting more often on social media
-> I have a few things I want to do on social

  1. Post lifestyle shots
  2. Using pottery in food photography
  3. Make more short videos for social media
  4. Make more longer videos for YouTube
  5. share more of my daily art
  6. share some of my poetry

I my mind is obsessed with photography at the moment and I spend all my free time researching different techniques and set ups, but just can’t commit to buying anything and it is driving me up the wall as I keep doubting myself. I didn’t like my previous setup of a light tent, I never liked anything I took with that set up.

I can’t afford a professional for all my photography at the moment and I know from looking at my own instagram feed I really need to improve what I do for social media too.

I really just need to get on with it, there is so much to do.

Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment

On Your Corner

No new post this week as I have been preparing for the first workshop for “On Your Corner” in collaboration with LeftCoast.

Pottery workshops

Posted in business | Leave a comment