PLEASE ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF,

I’M A MAN OF CLAY AND GLAZE

PUSHED MUD AROUND FOR SEVENTY YEARS

OR TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND DAYS.

Robin Hopper is a man of many parts, mostly worn out, rusty or dysfunctional, due to a lifetime of excesses! He started working with clay at the age of three and is still doing it over 70 years later. His lengthy, peripatetic career as a mudpusher has included side trips into working as a Professional Actor, Stage Designer, Property Maker, Stage Manager, Stage Carpenter, Grocer, Greengrocer, Jazz Musician, Teapot, Wine and Beer-Bottle, Trumpet, Trombone and Bugle Player, European Travel Guide, Founder of Several Clay/Art/Craft Organizations, Alchemist, Geologist, Primatologist, Linguist, Ornithologist, Botanist, Ceramic Historian, Educator, Author, Garden Designer, Lecturer on Japanese Garden Design, Laborer and Star of Stage, Screen and Potter’s Wheel!

Friday, February 17, 2012

TEACHING - MORE LOVE, MORE LABOR

FRIDAY, 17TH FEBRUARY, 20I2


FOUR-COLOR DOTTED AND FEATHERED SLIPWARE PLATE

MY LAST POST INTRODUCED THE SUBJECT OF SLIPWARE PROCESSES. THIS ONE AND THE NEXT, TRACE MORE ABOUT SLIPWARE, BOTH THE IMAGERY AND PROCESSES OF WORKING TO ACHIEVE THE IMAGERY. THE MANY VARIATIONS OF SLIPWARE ARE ESSENTIALLY SIMPLE LAYERING OF LIQUIFIED CLAYS OF DIFFERING VISCOSITIES. SOME, LIKE TERRA SIGILLATA, ARE ALMOST AS THIN AS WATER AND OTHERS MAY BE AS THICK AS WHIPPED CREAM.  IF YOU PUT A DOZEN SLIPWARE POTTERS IN A ROOM TOGETHER, THEY WOULD INVARIABLY DISAGREE ABOUT THE OPTIMUM WORKING VISCOSITY OF THIS CLAY AND WATER MIX. SAME WITH TERRA SIGILLATA. EACH TO HIS OR HER OWN AND GET TO THIS UNDERSTANDING IN A TRY IT AND SEE METHODOLOGY. ON THE PRACTICAL SIDE IT IS MUCH BETTER AND EASIER TO MAKE IT THICK AND THEN ADD WATER.  IN AREAS WHERE THESE TYPES OF WORK WERE DONE, IN FACT MOST AREAS OF THE WORLD, THE SLIPS WERE ESSENTIALLY JUST NATURAL LOCAL CLAYS WITH COLOR AND TEXTURAL VARIATION. LOCAL PROXIMITY CLAYS WITH COLOR VARIATIONS FROM IRON STAINING WILL LIKELY HAVE LESS WORKING PROBLEMS THAN SPECIALLY COMPOUNDED CLAY BODIES. OVER MANY YEARS, I HAVE FOUND THAT WHEN USING COMPLEX PROCESSES, IT IS FAR BETTER TO MAKE THE TECHNICAL PART AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE.  IN ALMOST ALL OF THE SLIPS AND GLAZES THAT I HAVE DEVELOPED FOR MY WORK I HAVE TRIED TO USE NO MORE THAN FOUR INGREDIENTS. IT IS PART OF "THE KISS PRINCIPLE" (KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID).


ADAM AND EVE SLIPWARE PLATE BY THOMAS TOFT  1674





 

SLIPWARE OWL PITCHER



"PELICAN IN HER PIETY" - SLIPWARE PLATE BY THOMAS TOFT

SLIPWARE IS GENERALLY A FOLK ART TRADITION. IN MY OPINION THE MOST JOYOUS IS THAT FROM THE AREA IN CENTRAL ENGLAND KNOWN AS STAFFORDSHIRE, THE SAME GENERAL AREA WHICH LATER GAVE RISE TO THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF INDUSTRIAL COMPANIES SUCH AS WEDGWOOD, SPODE AND A HOST OF OTHERS. THE REASONS BEHIND THE DEVELOPMENT OF "THE POTTERIES" WAS THAT THE CLAY WAS VERY GOOD IN THAT AREA. BEFORE THE INDUSTRY STARTED THERE WERE A NUMBER OF SMALL TOWNS AND VILLAGES WHERE COUNTRY POTTERS ESTABLISHED THEIR WORKSHOPS. FAMILY NAMES SUCH AS TOFT, SIMPSON, WRIGHT, TAYLOR, TALOR ARE COMMON AMONG THE BEST OF WARES MADE IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. THE SMALL POTTERIES WERE GENERALLY DISPLACED BY THE INFLUX OF LARGE FACTORIES WHO NEEDED SKILLED WORKERS TO PRODUCE THE NEW MASS PRODUCTION WARES.



MARBLED SLIPWARE PLATE


THE ENGLISH FOLK ART TRADITIONS ARE INFUSED WITH GREAT HUMOR AND SPIRITED, GRAPHIC IMAGERY USING A LIMITED PALETTE OF WHITE, YELLOW, BROWN, ORANGE AND BLACK LOCAL TINTED CLAYS.  THEY WERE THEN COATED WITH A LEAD, OR GALENA-BASED GLAZE. THEY WERE GENERALLY ONCE FIRED AT LOW TEMPERATURES REFERRED TO AS EARTHENWARE. ALTHOUGH THEY WERE MADE FOR REGULAR DOMESTIC USE, THE MOST JOYOUS PIECES WERE SPECIALLY MADE FOR CELEBRATIONS SUCH AS BIRTHDAYS, WEDDINGS, AND THE OCCASIONAL CORONATION OR TWO. MANY STUNNING, LARGE, DECORATED PLATES EXIST IN MANY MUSEUMS.  THE LARGEST COLLECTION IN NORTH AMERICA IS IN THE NELSON/ATKINS MUSEUM IN KANSAS CITY. I WAS AWARE OF THEM THROUGH MY TEENAGE VISITS TO LONDON MUSEUMS.


TRAILED AND FEATHERED SLIPWARE

THE SIMPLE METHODOLOGY OF USING A FEW SLIPS AND VARIED APPLICATION PROCESSES  HAS GIVEN RISE TO A WONDERFUL WORLD OF DECORATIVE CERAMIC SURFACES,  SLIGHT VARIATIONS ON THE PROCESS ARE DONE IN MANY DIFFERING CULTURES.  AS A STUDENT WITH GRAPHIC SKILLS, I WAS GREATLY IMPRESSED WITH THE POTENTIAL OF ALL CERAMIC SURFACE DECORATION PROCESSES.  SLIPWARE WAS JUST ONE OF MANY. THE ONLY PROBLEM FOR ME WAS THAT I PREFERRED THE BODY STRENGTH GIVEN BY WORKING WITH HIGHER TEMPERATURE CLAYS.  A FEW,  SIMPLE ADAPTATIONS AND TESTING GAVE ME WHAT I NEEDED - WORKING WITH PORCELAIN AND DOING DRAWING AND PATTERN-MAKING WITH SLIPS.


FOUR-COLOR DOTTED AND EXPANDED SLIPWARE PLATE


I WILL START TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT IN MY NEXT POSTING ON MONDAY. FEB/20








3 comments:

  1. Hi Smartcat,

    Is (o) a code for something I don't understand?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Robin for all of your efforts with information and the images (which take time to find, size correctly, and upload). I am being reminded of work that is in the recesses of my brain matter. LOVE IT!

    ReplyDelete