16th November 2017

First Impressions:

  1. The small cacti look quite cute and extra friendly… each took about 10 minutes to make however, and the arms had to be attached separately which was quite fiddly and labour intensive. To make 4 of these, this amount of time isn’t a big deal, but if I was making hundreds of these it would be very difficult, and there is potential for the joints to fail or at least crack. In order to test this further I will see how many I can make in a day, and analyse the quality over around 100 cacti.  The handmade quality of these small cacti were quite pleasing and really helped elevate the fluid/malleable characteristics of clay and hand building that is important to the piece as a whole.       However if it is impractical to make hundreds of cacti in this way (or other objects for that matter) I will have to consider casting, and finding ways to make the casts appear more organic before firing. This could be achieved by further shaping the forms by hand once removed from the mould.
  2. The scale of the cacti could work, however it does raise some questions about density or how far apart each object is placed/dispersed. With the original blue and orange installation from July ‘17 (Object, Language, Landscape), the spaces between each object was roughly between 1 and 1.5times the average size of the actual objects. For example, if a cactus of roughly 20cm diameter was placed near a tooth, it would be placed around 20-30cm away from the tooth.  This was all done by eye and arranged until the composition was “just right”. I will therefore have to see what sort of arrangement looks right with a larger number of smaller objects – this can be achieved in the same text as above; making around 100 cacti and arranging them.
  3. The “inherited kintsugi” cacti and mugs appear to yield interesting results.  The mug has been glazed with a ferric/volcanic stoneware glaze, which was inspired by the form itself… the effect of the broken mould upon the cast left very pronounced ‘spillage’ where the slip worked its way into the cracks of the mould.  These appeared torn, fragmented, aggressive and almost tortured in the way the earth might get ripped apart by an earthquake. But also, these ‘seams’ also reference heavy duty metal casting – something I have seen in the foundry or when I worked with molten aluminium casting last year.  So with those contexts in mind, the glazes had to be accommodating to these references. However, I would also be interested in seeing the effect represented in a more plastic colour and finish (like bright blue car paint).  The broken cactus casts have yet to be fired, and I am in the middle of making a series of these which show the degradation of the mould.  These would be ideal to explore other types of glazes and colour finishes.
  4. As mentioned above, the bright yellow mini cacti have a friendly and personify-able appearance – the cacti have always had 2 arms, but here they have a much more fluid texture against the previous larger cast cacti.  The colour also helps in some way make them appear friendlier, plus the yellow is much closer to an organic colour than the blue, and may even appear more like a skin-tone, especially when a viewer is familiar with cartoons such as The Simpsons or Minions.  In hindsight, the yellow perhaps is not inorganic enough, or too connected with these cartoons in order to avoid being associated with them. I terms of colour combination, I have briefly photographed the cacti on the bright green roof of the kiln to test this.  In reality there is not the same ‘colour shock’ as experienced with the blue on orange, however once photographed this appears slightly heightened. I will further investigate other colour combination.


I have also been further exploring newer contexts with these experiments, particularly the work of sculptor Katharina Fritsch and her brightly monochrome coloured objects, and ceramicist Pattie Chalmers, who seems to have a similar approach to selecting ‘everyday objects’ and hand building them in clay, in the same way that I do.  She is currently working on a project to make 365 objects in a year. I will be interested in how she plans to present the work once it is completed, however I may need to contact her and ask, as I am unsure when the 365 days is up! It could be after my MA finishes.

21st November 2016

So the first 25 mini-tactiforms have emerged from bisque firing; all looking good. The next batch is in tonight. Need to work out exactly what I’m doing for glaze…

…alongside the small tactiforms (which I tested out with some of my students today: their feedback to follow) I plan on making/selling 2-4 larger tactiforms (in bell-jars), about 20cm tall. A bit more formal sculpture than design, I guess, but then again it’s part of my output as an artist…

18th November 2016

…in 2 weeks time I will be selling my work at an Art & Crafts fair, at Richmond Adult Community College (Saturday 3rd December). This will be my first ever proper market, and first time I will ever sell direct to the customer!

I have been busily working on a series of small tactiforms (100 is the target)… 50 made so far; here’s how they look!