Thursday, 7 July 2011

Jo Wood- I'm not done yet...

I’ve been working on a new series of table lamps for an exhibition in Newtown. My 13 year-old son came into the studio to watch, but after only a few minutes he left saying “I don’t know how you can stand to keep doing that. It’s so boring.” He didn’t mean the end result – which usually gets his admiration! – he was talking about my method of working the clay.

My method is to take a small pinch of clay, roll it into a ball, pinch it out really thin with my thumbs and then create little pleats in it as many times as it will allow. I do not decide how it will pleat; I let it find its own path based on very slightly thicker and thinner areas. Each small piece in then pressed into a mould, slightly overlapping each other.

What Jay said left me wondering why I’m still doing what appears to be the same thing after about 5 years now. I’m not sure what the typical length of time spent on one particular style is for ceramic artists. I would like to hear people’s views on this.

I started working the clay in a similar but more simplistic way when I was doing Cert III at Hornsby TAFE. I misunderstood the teacher’s directions when she asked us to make a pinched bowl and started pinching the lump of clay way too thin. When I found it was flopping and not holding a bowl shape I made folds to bring it in. I still found I couldn’t make a bowl form this way, but did find I could make it go straight up and so ended up with a simple beer bottle form. This I bisqued and then painted oxide into the pleats, wiping back to highlight them. This produced something I felt worth pursuing.

Over the last couple of years the folds or pleats have got more depth to them – creating greater light and shade and no longer needing the oxide to highlight the detail.

I think it is the slight changes that appear over time, and the fascination in the different folds created in every little section of the piece, that keeps me interested. I hope to keep my audience interested by designing new forms that compliment my technique. So I’m not done yet…


  1. hi Jo,
    Thinking about lighting..I am feeling challenged by it. Im making a lightbox which will be illuminated from inside, needing to highlight quite subtle differences in the thickness of porcelain. it presents a couple of difficulties, getting the strength and uniformity of light and competing with any external lighting. It a a whole any I feel ignorant about!cheers, Jan Downes

  2. I'm always feeling challenged about how to solve my lighting ideas, Jan! It's a continual problem, but fantastic when something works out. I recently went to IKEA to look at their lights and fittings (you can see a lot on-line too). I bought some LED lights and a downlight to play with. I don't like the harshness of the LED light with my work, but the other light works really well inside a bowl form. IKEA is much cheaper for trying things out than going to an electrical store.
    I agree that competing with external lighting is difficult, and that is where you need to have around 12 volt power.
    Good luck!

  3. Thanks Jo, I also comb IKEA for solutions. I find usable and cheap lights with a flex and plug, and dispose of the "casing". its much cheaper than getting one made as you suggest.
    I have not had much success with LED but your experience inspires me.
    Porcelain back lit in a dark room is magic and becons me!