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…

3 comments:

  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

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  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!

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  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!

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