I managed to pick up this little test kiln from a school in Hove as they were trying to get rid of it thanks to Samira from Zu Studios which is the artist studio/events space warehouse next to The Skatehouse on the Phoenix Estate. I got this kiln in the summer of 2014 but it needed some work and electrical testing before it was safe to use within my studio based at the top of an indoor skatepark. Health and safety was crucial to be followed as sadly there had been a fire in one of the warehouses on the Pheonix Estate ‘The Phoenix Theatre‘ where the building went up in flames leading to the inhabitants loosing their entire lifes work! So you can understand there can be absolutely no fire hazards!
Full story on the Pheonix fire here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-26808745
So now my kiln is electrically sound I can test it out! I have not used a kiln with heat cones before so I am learning something new, I have only ever used electric programme kilns which are a bit more straight forward as you just programme the setting and heat you want and leave them on and it does it all for you, like below:
So now I have researched and learnt how to use the kiln with heat cones and regular checking through the bung/peep hole to see when the cones have bent down. I am ready for first firing in new kiln, yaaaaay.
I had for some time been developing my slip cast mould I had made from a large sized hand sculpted baby head.
Step by step process:
Make a plinth and a wooden core with wire to serve as your infrastructure for your sculpture and to attach and mould the clay to.
Ok so maybe its not a step by step photo process as I wasn’t that great at taking photos of my work back then which was like 3-4 years ago.
So now I have my sculpted piece ready to take a plaster mould from.
Mix up your plaster and get throwing at your sculpture, yes literally slap it on.
Tidy around the edges to reveal the beer can barrier as your going to need to be able to pull those out when the plaster is set. Leave your mould to set which I left it over night as I struggle with patients so I would have been there picking at it if I had been waiting for it to dry.
So now I have a mould which has been successful, this means I can begin taking clay impressions from the mould which is different to the slip casting I have usually been doing, but as you can guess I like learning new things.
Roll out a layer of clay and push into the moulds, join the mould together and allow to dry within the mould till slightly hardened and ready to take out the mould easily.
Tidy up the edges…………..
So sadly this head did not survive the kiln as I made it too thick, it wasn’t dried out enough and I didn’t put holes in the clay. This was all learning curbs for me as I was trying out something totally new and I have since developed the process resulting in successful kiln firings with no explosions! These previous attempts were not fired in my kiln I now own as my kiln is to small to do a full head so instead I have been firing just the front mould of the face to create a mask.
Tuttii Fruttii creator of haus of sequana, candykonk and the tecnikolor hair salon this awesome clown, jungle, punk, performer, barber, gangsta based in deptford had asked me to make her some of these baby face masks, being the longed out artist I can sometimes be these creations took a wee while longer than anticipated. Tuuttii gave me confidence back in my earlier days when I was carrying about ceramic baby pipes to raves she shone a bit of light on my art which led to me meeting some amazing people including Britt foe head of cult mountain, Carrie Reichardt along with the treatment rooms collective and my beautiful girlfriend Sian Wonnish Smith.
I got some clay masks made up and they were the very first things to go in my very own kiln, I carved in to them a bit to make them custom for tuttii as she wants to put them up in her hair salon caravan. We decided she would have them after the first firing without a glaze just raw clay so she can paint them and decorate them in her own unique way being that she is also an artist who enjoys a bit of paint!
The masks are put in the kiln ready for their 24 hour journey of heating up and cooling down.
Masks are made and ready to drop to Deptford. I catch up with tuuttii and finally get myself a fresh new hair cut! Cycle is complete.
So now things really take an upgrade on the clay masks! I dabble with some metallic glazes.
An old mate from uni days in Portsmouth and super talented tattoo artist Ronnie Cyndi had some how synchronised with me and we both contacted each other and wanted some work from each other, so we done some trades.
I started off getting some script on my arm from a red hot chili pepper lyric ‘can’t stop the spirits when they need you, this life is more than just a read through’ as these lyrics stuck with me from teen years, so we traded up a slip cast sculpture I had just updated by displaying it in a beautiful cage, I also threw in a ceramic pipe for good measure as the sculpture was a bit delayed.
I decided after seeing some more of ronnie aka whirl wind ronnie tattoo art on other people in particular her portrait pieces it got me hungry for more of her work, she is amazing at portrait tattoos and she really enjoys doing them so I wanted to have something done by her which she enjoyed to do on me. I put some thought in to it and the only person I could really think I would want tattoo’d on me who has actually made a difference in my life from a young age is bob marley, I would listen to his cassettes as a teenager out and about on my cassette walkman and his music would heal me. So thats who its got to be and I contact her right away, Ronni is keen to do the tattoo and I tell her about these new masks im making and would she want to trade again, shes well up for it, happy days!
I was inspired by this eminem tattoo ronnie done one a friend and singer song writer sinade galvin aka rumour talks
Masks are crafted and drying out ready for kiln
So so chuffed with my bob tattoo and my fav lyric from redemption songs ’emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds’
My ceramic metallic masks are fresh out the kiln and attached to this beautiful framed mirror I found.
This has been a long blog, but it has been a gradual process of development and learning over the last few years and I continue to thrive to learn new ways of making my ceramics and evolving my work.
Next place you will see my masks at the upcoming show in Deptford Birds Nest ‘A doll a day’ all female artist exhibition showing puppetry and dolls in a way you have not seen before. Watch this space……………