25 January 2020 at Knowl Hill Village Hall
Paul Wearing – West Forest Potters Day Notes 25th January 2020
Paul started his day with us showing slides of early work – the first being a beautifully executed slab house compete with tile detailing made when he was in Primary school, his talent as a maker already emerging. His time at college saw him tutored by Geoffrey Swindell, and influences coming from both artists and makers such as; Otto & Gertrude Natlzer, John Chalke, Lucie Rie, Francis Bacon, Phyllida Barlow Arnoldo Pomodoro and Steven Stabler. His work examined the exposure of interior structures and erosion leading him into the development of a huge variety of volcanic and crater glazes using Silicon Carbide, Magnesium Carbonate, Barium, Lithium and a range of oxides.
He started building and glazing White St Thomas clay but now uses Scarva Earthstone 20, a smooth but finely grogged stoneware clay which he finds more forgiving and whiter once bisque fired. He fires in an electric kiln.
He uses a complex layering and placing process of a variety of glazes he has formulated (he is now on glaze 76!). Glazes are applied by pouring on the inside of vessels and by brushing using mop or hake brushes to the outside. He uses upward strokes, gently dragging and encouraging the layers to break and move up the pot, the pot sides are not completely smooth giving the glaze something to catch on to almost resembling throwing rings where the coils are joined. Glazes are applied in strict order to bisque ware (10000c)
Interior of pot
Appropriate glaze is applied to interior first, this can be any suitable combination of glazes.
Exterior of pot (new black volcanic glazes)
1 Black slips – 50% ball clay 50% China clay sieved then B128 Grey stain or B129Black stain (Bath Potters Glaze & body stain) and Cobalt added. Applied with a wide brush in thin layers up to 4.
2 Volcanic glaze – wfp suggest using 60pbw Nepheline Syenite, 40 Hyplas ball clay with 8% silicon carbide 60 mesh (Bath Potters supplies) and black stain10 pbw mix or cobalt oxide 1% & copper oxide 3% for different intensities of black. Mix to a yoghurt consistency. Applied thinly and rapidly using a mop brush, up to 10 layers. Dry in between each layer.
3 2x Barium glazes one with copper oxide (greens) the other manganese oxide (purples) and sometimes iron spangles, this layer is applied more thickly as this layer adds a thicker texture and more craters disrupting the surface texture.
4 2x Magnesium Carbonate glazes (this one causes the cracking open on drying and in firing crawling) 75.8% Mag Carbonate 24.2% Nepheline Syanite plus one with Copper oxide and one colourless. Use Magnesium Carbonate light (Bluematchbox or Bath Potters Supplies) but mix it to a thick consistency and add 2 layers.
Finally he adds G62 ‘The Saviour’ as he calls it a specially formulated glaze by Paul containing barium and lithium to achieve more ‘popping’ of colours buried in the layers. Its use is optional.
He recommends the book Dry Glazes by Jeremy Jernegan ISBN978-1912217922 as a good starter for those looking to formulate textured ‘dry’ glazes.
He fires to between 12200 – 12500 around cone 8 (depending on rate of heating and kiln conditions). No cooling cycle required.
Note: Always fire on or in a clay sagger (these can be made from crank clay) or an old piece of kiln shelf you don’t mind possibly losing – very well batt washed to catch the drips and save kiln shelves from damage. Be prepared to grind away glaze runs – Bluematchbox has some great abrasives for this purpose!
If your volcanic craters blister you can soften their edges using a wire brush or a ceramic file – but according to Paul ‘a pot should bite back!’ Care should be taken when using toxic glaze ingredients such as Vanadium Pentoxide and Barium. An alternative to barium and kinder to the environment would be Strontium.
Paul demonstrated his coiling technique using a plaster mould to form the very base of his vessel. Forming a small pad of clay (about palm size) he presses this into the bottom of the plaster mould (with a useful footring already carved in it) he adds pellets of clay pressing into the pad and up and outward filling the mould. The base is carefully compressed using a metal kidney. This base is dried with a heat-gun removed from the mould, the makers mark is added, all marks removed and footring tidied then placed on a whirler where it is checked for evenness This is done using a batt with a circular spirit level (available from hardware stores or Amazon) on top. “Everything counts, everything will make a difference at each stage”. Nuggets of clay are pressed under the base to ensure the base stays even whilst coils are added. He adds the first coil using cross-hatch but no slip, the coil is a slight wedge shape thick end going onto the base slightly overhanging to allow for plenty of clay to join. Using a downward stroke with his finger he joins the coil. The second coil is slightly thicker but joined in the same way, all the way up. Indentations and coil lines are evident and will help the glaze catch on at different levels. Once the final coil is added the rim is tamped down with a paddle or stick to compress slightly and ensure evenness in height and thickness. Depending upon the height required he heat-guns in the middle of coiling but likes to complete a pot in one sitting.