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Incidental slip effects

My slow burning, smoke firing journey continues….

swirl pattern in a bucket of thick pottery slip

One of the most satisfying outcomes has been the incidental surfaces and effects that appear when I’ve been getting creative applying a slip resist to the surface of my bisque fired ware.

In an attempt to echo the experimental way I manipulate freshly thrown form, I’ll often take a thick brush loaded with slip and flick it at the poor unsuspecting pots. Most of it hits the target but there is also a considerable amount that doesn’t! Splash-back and wayward slip often deposit on the work surface, floor and pretty much everything in a five mile radius!

pottery slip bucket and lid

Below are some examples of chance and incidental slip landings – one of which looks remarkably like the surface of the moon. Wonder if I could replicate the effect on the surface of a pot? Maybe a moon jar!?

pottery slip splatters on a wooden board at jon williams studio in herefordshirecircular board covered in thick pottery slip at ceramic artists jon williams studio near the malvern hills

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artist experiments Interactive art work in progress

Blue shell

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experiments work in progress

Sagging saggers

broken saggers used in the fire place by potter jon williams to decorate his pots with smoke

I think its time to retire these ol’ saggers! #kintsugi anyone?

Also… not sure what the shiny black stuff is on the inside the one on the left – tar or creosote maybe? Whatever it is I like it!! 🖤🖤🖤

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experiments garden sculpture Interactive art Outside surface quality work in progress

Snail pace!

Taking time to appreciate the subtle effects of layering and wiping away slip decoration…. 

detail of rocking snail ceramic sculpture by jon williams the flying potter from herefordshire

At the moment, these snail sculptures are at the leather hard stage (my favorite!) and still have to dry for a couple of weeks before going in the kiln.

close up of a rocking ceramic snail by jon williams the flying potter

Once they’ve been fired, the snails are to be exhibited at several garden sculpture exhibitions later this year.

As with a lot of my work, these pieces have an interactive element. Visitors will be able to gently rock the snails back and forth to create rhythmic sounds.

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artist experiments work in progress

Out of the ashes

Somewhere in this blackened sagger is a little burnt offering in need of  wire wool & wax tlc!

thrown torn and altered pot made on the potter's wheel by ceramic artist jon williamssmoke fired thrown torn and altered pot made on the potter's wheel by ceramic artist jon williamsthrown torn and altered pot made on the potter's wheel by ceramic artist jon williams

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artist Outside work in progress

Antennae

detail of thrown antennae by jon williams

I love making these!!! – so much fun to produce! 🤗🧡

They start life on the potters wheel as thin, solid cones. Texture is added whilst the clay spins and each one finally curled from the tip down.

They’re insect antennae, added to the bodies of sculptural bees, bugs and snails. 🐝 🐜 🐌

That said, I reckon they hold their own as mini-sculptures reminiscent of unfurling ferns or organic iron work.

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experiments work in progress

Slab building

Although I’m a thrower, I do enjoy the challenge of working with other pottery techniques.

These slabbed constructions are ceramic bases, designed to support a sculpture on a metal rod. That said, I reckon they look pretty cool as stand alone pieces. I particularly enjoy the potential for geometric pattern making when the bases are lined up in groups.

slabbed base made by herefordshire ceramic artist jon williams

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experiments Outside work in progress

Saggers

Whilst experimenting with smoke fired pottery on the BBQ last Spring, I found a lot of my pots developed hair-line cracks and fissures due to the thermal shock of the flames licking the ware. There was only one course of action – make myself some saggers!

Those of you who might not be familiar with the word, a sagger is a protective fire-clay box enclosing ceramic ware while it is being fired.

Traditionally, they were used in the pottery industry to protect the pottery whilst it was fired in huge bottle kilns.

Above are some fine examples of antique saggers, piled high at Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke. They’ve obviously seen some action and been in and out of the kiln many many times, protecting their precious contents from the ferocity of the fire. The pitted and roasted surfaces really tell a story – I love the effect!

I used brick clay to make my saggers – x3 crude and rather brutal looking cylinders with lids made on the potter’s wheel and fired to 960 degrees. 

Not only do the saggers prevent cracking, but I have produced some really intense blacks by packing combustible materials around the work inside the sagger. The twigs and sawdust inside the sagger smolder in the oxygen deprived atmosphere rather than burst into flame. This produces a lot of smoke which permeates the ceramic surface with great effect. 

sagger made from brick clay on a fire protecting pottery by herefordshire artist jon williams

I’ve had so much fun experimenting with the saggers over the Autumn and Winter, firing them on the BBQ, bonfires and inside the house in the fireplace during the colder months.

sticks of charcoal inside a sagger created by herefordshire potter jon williams
Sticks of charcoal produced by the slow burning of hazel sticks inside the sagger

 

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artist experiments Interactive art work in progress

Milk Chocolate Bees

I’ve been developing more rattles and shakers, this time in the shape of bugs and bees. Each little beastie is made entirely from sections created on the potter’s wheel. The separate elements are joined together and smoothed to give the appearance of being whole. (Each bee has been made from x4 separate wheel throw sections.)

The freshly assembled insects above have just been coated in a layer of thick, luscious white slip and I think you’ll agree, they look pretty tasty at this stage.

They do change quite a bit when they emerge from the kiln:

terracotta micro bug rattle designed to sit in the palm of one hand made by herefordshire artist jon williamsterracotta micro bee rattle made by herefordshire artist jon williams

To give you a sense of scale – each bee or bug can sit happily in the palm of one hand. Tiny little ceramics!

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experiments work in progress

Disintegration pots

These poor little fellas have been thrown, slipped, cut, stretched and pulled apart on the potter’s wheel!

I’m enjoying seeing how far I can push the material with the aim to capture or preserve the point of disintegration. It’s a tricky balance to strike and I probably loose a third of what I’m making?

Anyway, it’s great fun and very rewarding when you get one that stands up. Each pot is truly individual and I’m considering smoke firing them to add a further layer of randomness!

detail of disintergration pots by jon williams