Bringing the neighbouring communities together was the goal for the Waitotara Community Market. A group of loyal locals organised the event, hosting an array of art and craft stall holders within the hall and disused Plunket building. The group hope to secure the Plunket building for community use.
I was able to utilise the St Marks church, creating an exhibition of my ceramics and photography. The church, built in 1890, is a stunning example of the influential New Zealand architect, Frederick de Jersey Clere.
The church provided a peaceful backdrop to my artwork and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be involved with such an amazing group of woman. I wish them well in their venture to create a local hub in Waitotara.
Been busy getting my ceramics ready for the Whanganui Art in the Garden weekend! This is a popular annual event organised by the Whanganui Potters Studio and held at a the QT nursery on Papaiti Rd. With 95 members, Whanganui Potters’ Studio has a proud 50 year history. Using various clays, glazes, kilns, wheels and tools, and a wealth of knowledge, they produce a wide range of traditional and contemporary ceramics. They exhibit twice a year, host artist workshops, hold monthly raku firings and beginner courses. The studio is located at 19 Taupo Quay. Opening hours are Wednesday 9.30am to 1.00pm and 6.30pm-8.30pm, and Thursday 6.30pm to 8.30pm.
Living by the sea you cant help but become connected to the moana ocean, and when you walk it almost daily its disheartening to see the array of plastic waste that continuously get washed in with each tide change. Some people just don’t see the waste. Their eyes glaze over the brightly coloured pieces of trash tangled up with the driftwood and seaweed. But once you open your eyes, and divert your footsteps in the sand, to fetch a piece of plastic from the rubble you wont walk past another ever again.
And that change in behaviour is what I hope to create by creating a wire whales tail sculpture, commissioned by the South Taranaki Creative Community Scheme.
Utilising an old concrete water tank, I set up my potters wheel and shelves and got to work, creating as many cups and bowls my clay supply could produce. With the music cranking and the kids at school, I was in my element.
Once made, I leave the pieces to dry over night, then cut (tidy) the bottoms of each piece, add any names using stamps and then put on my potters mark of LL.
After about a week or two of drying they are ready for a bisque fire to 1140 degrees C.
Once cooled, they are ready for glazing. The bottom (base) of the piece needs to be free of glaze otherwise once fired it would stick to the shelf. I like to coat the bottom with melted wax to ensure a clean line and a glaze free base.
Now the make or break moment. I’ve stuffed up a lot of work by getting carried away with glazing, but I’m often on the search for some crazy out-there results. I have the luxury of having my own kiln, which enables me to experiment. I would not want to create a mess or blow out a shelf in a communal kiln, damaging the work of others.
This is the retro Tea Dust glaze. Currently for sale at Honest Kitchen on Ridgway Street and in Whanganui Fine Arts Gallery on Taupo Quay in Whanganui.
In need of a work space I started the dreaded google search for options and found Lumberland. Lumberland are a building supply company in Palmerston North who constructed two sheds for me made from marine ply. The sheds are under 10m2 so I didn’t need a permit for them. Super easy. That’s is until they were delivered. D Day. The first time I walked up our tree lined driveway I fell in love with our house. But now the pohutukawa trees carry scars of the dreaded delivery day. To Lumberland’s credit the sheds now sit contently in our back yard, however the driveway is in need of repair! Nevermind, I now have a studio for all my creations! Bring on summer and all the holiday makers!
Wondering what to do while visiting Whanganui? The Winter Gardens offers an all year round colourful display of flora amongst sculptures and garden art.
Built in the 1940’2, the Winter Gardens were built to commemorate the Centenary of New Zealand.
A walk in aviary was developed over the 1960’s and 70’s. Birds to be observed include pheasants, parakeets, finch and rosellas, and of course, what aviary would be complete without a couple of talking cockatoos.
Local artist have contributed to the sculptural garden next door. Exhibited pieces include punga carvings, mosaics and glass works.
More art can be found by continuing your journey to Lake Rotokawau (Virginia Lake), a half hour woodland walk. You can join in with the leap frogging children created by sculptor Hamish Horsley.
Whanganui is home to over 400 resident artists, and hosts over 15 galleries. Whanganui’s dynamic art scene includes photography, painting, pottery, sculptures, textiles and glass.
One of these outstanding contributors is glass artist David Traub.
I was quick to book in for a glass tutorial at his studio in King Street, called The Glass Factory.
I joined 6 other amateur artists for an instructed class where we used David’s off-cuts to create 2 bowls, magnets or broches and a glass tile.
Using frits we created our design on flat glass disks, which later David slumped over stainless steel bowls, coated in shelf wash.
The kiln is fired over night and your completed masterpieces are packaged and posted home, for you to admire and treasure.
The tile was an interesting activity utilising chunky glass fragments from previous works. We could cut the glass to our desired size and used a metal mallet to crush and sieve pieces to suit. We lined metal moulds with fibre paper and set to work.
My tile was inspired by the Hen Island view we had from our old family beach house. I was really pleased with the result, and look forward to working with glass in the future.
Finding a good art supplier takes a lot of research. Prices can look quite reasonable online but once you’ve spent a good hour or so navigating a website, creating a cart of potential purchases, the freight charges can change the investment from a creative hobby to a financial risk pretty fast.
It felt like Christmas the day my first order of clay and glazes arrived from Decopots. A momentous day.
I had decided on 20 bags of clay. 10 wood brown stoneware and 10 cream stoneware. Both great for sculptural and wheel work. If you commit to 20 bags the price is reduced. I topped up the pallet with a couple of glazes and a brush, making the most of the freight charges.
Now that we have relocated to Whanganui, I am only an hour away from Palmerston North, the home of Decopots. While my mother (also a potter) was visiting, we thought it would be fun to have a little shop.
What I didn’t realise was that they aren’t open to the public, however they kindly showed us around their factory. This was such a treat. A behind the scenes experience.
We watched as clay was pressed through a rather large industrial pugmill.
We watched as ceramic blanks were reproduced in moulds and set to dry on shelves before heading to the kiln for firing.
Although we left empty handed, we would soon be putting our orders in.
Studio, clay and a kiln, it was time to get creating. I set to work making Christmas ornaments in star, fish and heart shapes. After a week of drying, I was ready for my first fire. Unfortunately the kiln’s automatic cone firing schedules did not work, and instead of stopping at 1040oC for a bisque fire, the kiln when all the way to it’s top temperature of 1280oC. This meant my ornaments could not have a second firing with glaze applied.
It took a couple of firings for me to realise that I was going to have to find schedules for bisque and glaze firing of stoneware clay and to enter the program manually.
With the firing under control I could now start testing my glazes. Having my own kiln gave me the freedom to experiment without fear of failure.
Now that I have my very own space dedicated to my creativities I went on the search for a kiln, refreshing my Trade Me search daily. I eventually posted a wanted ad on the local Facebook page, where I was offered a small 60cm x 60cm F.E Kiln for $350. It was perfect for my experimental ceramic attempts.
I enjoyed meeting people and sharing knowledge while being a member of Raglan’s Pottery Club however depending on the firing of a community kiln was a pain. I’d leave a piece clearly labelled for firing, and yet week after week I’d find it still sitting there patiently waiting to take its turn on one of the kiln shelves, while others seem to take priority.
I was still trying to discover how clay and glazes worked, and was excited at the possibility of being able to dabble without risking other peoples work.
I have had the shame of having a piece drip glaze onto an unfortunate piece below
I have put on the safety glasses and earmuffs to grind a piece off the valuable shelf that had suck fast by a thick runny glaze
I have had to vacuum the empty kiln after a piece had exploded due to trapped air
All my little kiln needed was a new pyrometer and a new controller… plus the electrician to install these pricey parts.
$1300 later I was ready to fire!