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.
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.
Being married to a surfer I constantly find little bits of sandy wax littering the house. Now my hubby has somewhere to put them and can stop asking me “Where’s my wax?”
Let me know if I can make a bowl for you! firstname.lastname@example.org
Making moulds for ceramic work is easy and affordable. To make bowls you can either spray the bowls with a release agent, such as silicone or cover the bowl with a clay layer. This means you can etch or alter the shape to suit before pouring in plaster.
To make my heart mould I formed a solid heart shape and pressed it firmly to the base of a plastic container. After pouring the plaster I jiggle the container to release any bubbles.
Once set, the plaster mould can be easily removed and used. When creating wall hangings it’s important to consider how the piece will be hung. I attach clay using a vinegar and water mix to help with the blending of the clay. Using a small 2cm long piece of straw I cut a hole, so the wire can be used for hanging the ornament when finished.
After about a week of drying, weather dependant, the pieces can be put into the kiln for a bisque firing up to 1040oC. Then once the glaze has been applied, the pieces will receive a second firing, up to 1200oC. Complete.
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.
Pretty excited to be part of this year’s Art in the Garden.
Whanganui artists spent the Friday setting up their displays. Work included ceramic sculptures, glass ornaments, metal work and paintings. I decided on a bushy part of the walkway to display my lady sculptures, tikis and hearts, then disappeared.
The event is held over the weekend, with purchases sold as ‘cash and carry’. So hopefully there isn’t much for me to pick up on the Monday!
I took the family on the Saturday to spy on my work. Even though the weather was a bit dodgy it was good to see plenty of people wandering around the stunning garden venue, at QT Nursery on Papaiti Rd. The Whanganui Pottery Club were giving raku demonstrations throughout the day as displays started to show some gaps as fantastic pieces of art found their new homes.
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!