Friday, August 31, 2012

Red Clay in the Studio

For years the pristine translucence of porcelain has filled the studio but recently I took the contamination of this refined material to a new level by wedging it with terracotta.  The only reason I didn't use pure terracotta was because I wanted to incorporate a higher fired material into the red clay so I could take it up to stoneware temperatures.

Sometimes I wonder if a love of pure white clay is an adolescent phase of aesthetic development.   Bone china rose to prominence with the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the great English potteries, before this time fine white porcelain was the preserve of royalty.  As a result of the abundance of bone china during the Industrial revolution and the rise of the middle classes porcelain has a strong association with the aesthetics of industrialization.  Conventions of uniformity and perfect replication have overwhelmed the handmade pot in the  Western world.

Mutant terracotta before firing

I have been firing this mutant terracotta at 1280 degrees so it loses it's reddish colour and turns brown.  The ground colour affects the composition of the drawings as well as the lines and colours.  I am firing the pots three times to try and get the right balance of scraffiti, colour and the soft shine of terra sigilata. 
mutant terra cotta after 1280 firing