Saturday, 17 November 2012


My sketchbooks contain many ideas which have yet to see the 'light of clay'; so when I sit down with a lump of clay I am never thinking 'What shall I make?'.

One idea has been in my sketchbook for several months waiting for the right trigger to be implemented in clay. This 'trigger' came when I was given an interesting off-cut of yew which I felt would make a beautiful base to compliment the form of the ceramic piece.

My original plan had been to leave the clay in it's natural state (as I have done with many of my sculptures). However, after walking along the beach at Hengistbury Head in early September, where I was enjoying picking up and admiring the flints, I decided to try to create this effect.

I started by covering the finished sculpture in 3 coats of black slip, over this I loosely brushed on 2-3 coats of white slip, leaving areas of black exposed on the edges. I burnished the protruding areas of black slip before firing the piece to bisque then stoneware.

The piece of yew needed a lot of work to refine the shape (unfortunately I forgot to photograph it before starting to work on it). Meir Weiss kindly helped with the initial shaping with some of his power tools, I then took over and refined the shape with hand tools and finally 3 grades of sandpaper. Initially I waxed the wood, but my beeswax is slightly coloured and this spoilt the natural colour of the yew. Back to yet more sanding to remove the wax, and then a small amount of olive oil and I was happy.

Twisted Flint Form - Ceramic on yew base (h-31cm, w-45cm)

I have also created another piece based on my observations of flints.

This time I also used some yellow slip, as well as the white; but I was not very happy with the result, so have since 'smoked' the piece.
Not really convinced that this improves the piece. It may be that it is destined for a secluded spot in the garden!

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