In 2009 circumstances led me to begin staining porcelain and making coloured clay ceramics without really knowing anything about the process. I found inspiration online in the form of images of ceramics by Ito Sekisui V and Thomas Hoadley who has written an excellent description off the technique saying,
''My initial attraction to the nerikomi technique came from its organic union of pattern and structure. Rather than the former being applied to the latter, as in most decorative pottery traditions, the two are one and the same''.
The images of coloured clay I found online made me realise pots could be made using colour as a primary consideration in the structure of the piece as opposed to colour being used as a design or purely decorative element.
It became apparent that I could build pots with blocks of colour.
Porcelain is fired to 1220 degrees centigrade and is composed of very fine white particles that are easy to stain with pigments but once stained the clay loses its plasticity, similar to a dry short crust pastry-not the optimum consistency with which to make fine pottery. For this reason making ceramics using this technique presents a challenge.
My interest in ceramics started early with art classes at school then to college to study art. Then after this renting various potteries/studios around Brighton and then a big move at the age of twenty eight to Sedona, Arizona where I worked as an apprentice potter at www.sonsilverwest.com making porcelain wares for Bill and Rose Robson.
Bill was a Laguna Beach potter who had moved from California to Sedona and had invested in an art gallery. He brought with him a monster sized forty cubic feet West Coast gas kiln which over the years I learnt to operate. This was a fruitful working realtionship that lasted four years. We used cone 10 glazes bought from Laguna Clays and experimented with glaze recipes from a Carlton Ball('build them high, build them tall, build them just like Carlton Ball') glaze recipe book. Laguna Clays employed a man called Alfonso, a troubleshooter who sat at the end of a telephone line with solutions to technical problems generally off the top of his head. I would call to ask various questions about problems I was experiencing with the glazes and there was nothing this guy did not know about ceramics( a large topic),
a prime example of American customer service.
I returned to the UK in 2001 and instantly enrolled in another B.A. Degree Studio Ceramics course at Falmouth School of Art in Cornwall, graduating in 2004 and shortly thereafter volunteering my services at Bosence Farm Community as resident potter. This is where I began staining porcelain and making coloured clay ceramics as well as offering my services in their fabulous pottery as a potter. It proved to be a rewarding period in my life and I am grateful for the opportunities it presented.
Bosence Farm is located in a lush green valley facing Godolphin hill which is situated next to Tregonning hill, the site where China Clay was discovered by William Cookworthy in 1746. This discovery led to the English China Clay industry which became centered in St Austell in Cornwall twenty miles away.
I would like to thank Peter Smith who, similar to Alfonso at Laguna Clays, has tremendous experience in ceramics and has been more than willing to offer advice when I get stuck.