As you requested
Today I was tempted to try to throw, I’m getting itchy fingers. I didn’t though, maybe tomorrow, I looked at the clay that Paul pugged for me the other night but it just made me feel a bit uncomfortable even thinking about it. That’s probably a sign. Instead I got out a lettering book that I’ve had knocking around a while waiting to have some attention paid to it. I spent a few hours practising letters and lines. I started in pencil and then thought I’d use the old calligraphy pen that I’d brought from home especially. Knowing the ink cartridge in it would be dried out I even brought another with me. Unfortunately I didn’t check the size and brought one twice as big and so of course it didn’t fit. Then I had a brain wave and attempted to fill the empty cartridge with the bottled ink I have using a tiny squeezy bottle with a fine nozzle on the end. This worked spectacularly – badly. Black in blooming everywhere. Oops! Then I discovered a flat paint brush that I had at work and had a play with that instead. Just behind the papers there you can see one of my recent acquisitions, a lovely Blogger Andrew mug, I’m very much enjoying using it. It’s especially good for me at the moment as it’s not got a belly and most of my mugs have bellied or tapering at the top forms and when you’ve got a neck and shoulders that don’t bend and move as easily as they might a bellied mug is not your friend. Thanks Andrew, I do like it very much.
Here’s some majolica for you as you requested. I must have been at Jason’s for probably six months before I did any painting on the tin glaze and where as the slip trailing just grabbed me felt great this I found much harder. It’s an odd feeling. I hadn’t done very much work with a brush at this point at all, you can probably tell. The bisque pots are glazed in the tin glaze and then you paint on the top with the oxides. Jason mixes his raw oxides with gum arabic (I think) before they are ground with water and painted onto the powdery surface. You have to know what the mark is you are going to make and do it smoothly and quickly as the moment you touch the wet brush tip to the surface it sucks the water from the brush and if you’re not careful you end up with a thick blob in one place and unable to move it around at all. Once the pots are decorated too moving them is to be done oh so carefully as the decoration will smudge with a misplaced thumb. Jason had worked at Aldermaston with Alan Caiger-Smith
which is where he learnt the majolica work.
I practised for ages on newspaper with iron oxide first. Jason tried to teach me the marks that each different brush type is made for but I’m afraid it really didn’t stick in my head at all. I think I was always just a bit too wary with it. It never seemed to flow at all for me. These two plates would have been among the first I decorated. Jason paints lots of fish but mine always to me had more of a look of slugs about them.
These pierced mugs were fun, I’ve made them a few times since but not for probably four years or so, maybe I should work on them for Potfest. I want to make something different but I’m going to be limited scale wise to small things just to not risk myself hurting myself so maybe these would be good. I’ve a couple of slipware ones from the same time on the shelf here too. I saw a few salt glaze pierced pots in Germany too. Right that’s it, they’re going on the list, it’s fate, they’re cropping up too much to be ignored any longer. The Bartmans will have to wait I think but they are mythering me from the German trip too you know sometimes you just have to do something to get it out of your system.
Back to the subject in hand though. These small cups and saucers, this apple and the roses at the top would have been late 2002 and the apple one certainly went through the big wood kiln, the rose I think was electric fired. The apple pattern is one Jason had been working with for a few years and it was a good way of him showing me how the different brushes and strokes can be built up to make a pattern. They are still rather staid I think, like I say it never felt natural holding a brush, they look a bit stiffly done. Maybe I should have given it more chance, I did paint a lot of things, an awful lot of things but they just weren’t ever as successful as the slip was. They are sweet little cups and saucers though. These show how thin you could throw that there Fremington clay too, it was very strong, I could slip pots made that thin in the Fremington, if I tried that with the clay I use now they’d be in a little heap on the bench in no time at all.
Not many of the tin glaze pots for you there I’m afraid but it gives you a taste. Next time I’m at Jason’s I’ll see if there’s any more hanging around and get some more pictures.