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experiments Outside

Smoke fired pottery

In an attempt to add further depth to my ceramic surfaces, I’ve been messing about with fire in the Pottery garden.

pottery fish and pottery experiments being smoke fired on a bbq

I had dabbled with smoke firing once before in my role as an artist in residence at Evesham Nursery School. I have very fond memories of working with the staff and children in their amazing Forest School site on the outskirts of town.

The young artists had great fun painting thick wet slip onto bisque pots they’d created on one of my previous visits to the Nursery.

 

Once the pots, leaves, staff and children’s faces! had been daubed in slip, we set about building a fire around the pots, watching as the flames and smoke curled around the children’s creations.

When the fire had died down, we carefully extracted the scorching pots using raku tongs and plunged them into a bucket of water, admiring the sizzling, bubbling and frothing as they sunk to the bottom.

As soon as the pots were cool enough to handle, the children set about removing ash and scrubbing away the painted slip to reveal the pale terracotta – a terrific contrast to the blackened, smoked areas of the unmasked surface.

I remember being encouraged and inspired by the children’s results and keen to try out the process for myself. Unfortunately, as with a lot of things, I never seemed to find the time to explore the technique. That is until Lock down! 

I discovered an amazing website called Ceramic Arts Network, packed full with articles and accessible features. My fave being how to smoke fire pots on a BBQ!

garden bbq filled with ceramic experiments by artist jon williams

I have learnt so much from the first firing (thermal shock can be so frustrating!) and am looking forward to trying again using saggars to protect and pattern the work.

smoke fired pottery experiments by jon williams

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artist Exhibitions experiments installation Interactive art Outside social engagement

Giant Pringles in a pear tree!

Tree Pringles! 

The latest incarnation of x30 or so wheel thrown disks.

They made their debut at Fresh Air Sculpture Exhibition a few years back as a purely sculptural piece, stacked one on top of another to form two floor standing totems.

Since then, I’ve been experimenting with the work as an interactive resource in all sorts of settings and environments.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Jon Williams (@jon_williams_potter) on

 

They make excellent rocking pots too!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Jon Williams (@jon_williams_potter) on

 

They’ll have their next outing at the rescheduled Hellens Garden Festival 22 & 23 August 2020.

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experiments Outside

Quite like it as it is!

Something I greatly value about the making process is the emergence of an unexpected outcome.

The potter’s wheel offers lots of potential for a creative ‘surprise’ and I always try to stay alert to the ‘happy accident’. The slightest change in hand position or shift in concentration can lead to a whole new aesthetic or approach. I may not have the time to action the diversion straight away but will photograph, make notes and bank the idea for another day.

sculptural ceramics by herefordshire potter jon williams

More recently, I’ve been getting further and further through the making process before the ‘light bulb’ moment presents itself. The forms above were thrown and assembled bodies of insects designed for a garden sculpture exhibition. There is something very elementary and abstract about the forms at that particular stage in the process that prompted me to take the photo. I then attached legs and wings to achieve the original intention and turned them into something quite different from the legless versions! 

This piece below is a slabbed base designed to display a ceramic fish sculpture. A metal rod inserted in the hole to suspend the fish at the other end.

slab built vessel by potter jon williams

Most of my work starts it’s life on the potter’s wheel so shapes are invariably soft and organic looking. Producing a straight sided, angular object required me to work with another technique. I had so much fun rolling the clay, drying, assembling the slabs and finally smoothing the joins, it got me inspired to do more. Discounting the original function of the piece, I think the leather hard result looks like it could hold it’s own as a stand alone sculptural vessel.

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Interactive art Outside

Very Happy Making

Throwback Thursday: Happy Craft Play Project 2013 – 2014

Outside learning with nursery aged children in the depths of winter – chilly, great fun and a fine example of partnership and collaborative working! Just look at the individuals and organisations involved:

Commissioned artists:

Jon Williams

Ann Marie O Sullivan

Corrie Williamson

Organisations:

Happy Museums

Craftspace

Craftplay

WAVE

Loxdale Primary School

I made ceramic play things and clay stamps as a response to the exploratory sessions with the very young children and their teachers. The work was then gifted to the school to as a resource for future outdoor learning.

pottery stamps and play objects for EYFS aged children made by artist jon williams on the happy craft play project in wolverhampton

Background to the project:

The Craftplay project brought together WAVE and Craftspace who worked together at Bilston Craft Gallery to deliver a programme of creative engagement sessions with early years’ children. The project engaged with children and their carers through working with craft makers to explore creative play and the natural environment – investigating the part craft plays in developing a sustainable future. By taking the world around us as a teacher and actively interacting with, The Craftplay project sought to inspire children with an appreciation of the environment and its systems, and to enrich their self-belief through creating things themselves by hand.

There is an acute need to support basic wellbeing in the area immediately around Bilston Craft Gallery which has high concentrations of children living in poverty and high levels of deprivation. The sessions provided by the Craftplay project offered a rich, inspiring and fun learning environment where curiosity, confidence and social development were nurtured. In order to chart the progress of their project, WAVE and Craftspace created a great blog.

Read a Case Study of the project – Bilston Craft Gallery – developing outdoor play

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Outside

Pottery bunny

Never been asked to make a pottery rabbit before!

Chuffed to be asked by the lovely peeps at Puzzle Wood in The Forest of Dean to be included in their Great Puzzlewood Easter (virtual) Pottery Trail!