The Hand and the Glove... ramblings about making.

18.10.07 – The Actual and the Virtual

On arriving at College I went straight upstairs to the Darwin workshops to see how Neil had got on with the CNC milling of my torus 03 form. I felt like Christmas had arrived! It was finished and looked superb.
The difference between visualising the virtual form on Rhino 3D and having the real thing in front of me is profound and also shows up the difference between what I have carefully designed and the thrown test forms. 3D modelling software has many advantages, which include the ability to visualise a design, to create an extremely realistic render of it and to save that information to fabricate the design by various methods such as CNC milling and rapid manufacture.
On close inspection of the model various slight imperfections could be seen, there was ‘stepping’ on the curve at the centre of the form, and a slight ridge where the two halves met. Neil was as interested as any craftsman in how the tool had performed under skilled guidance regardless of the fact that he controlled the tool through the computer keyboard. The making of the form was not an automatic process; there were choices to be made in planning it as there are with traditional methods.

From there it was back down to unpack some tests from the kiln. The metallic black glaze from a recipe that Liz had given me, which I had ball milled, had come out quite differently; this time it looks very much like steel. Not the same high ‘chrome’ gloss of my first glaze recipe, but still an interesting surface.
The matt black underglaze fests looked at first less successful, unpleasant to the touch and marked easily. After speaking to Martin on Wednesday I tried using wet and dry on the surface, but revealed some of the white clay body.

On Wednesday I spent the morning in a tutorial with Martin discussing the writing of the thesis. We allocated each section a number of words and started to work out an order for the writing of it. In looking at my practical work Martin suggested that I research using sanitary ware slip as it is designed for large items and would be preferable to press moulding the piece. I emailed Martin Hunt for advice, who suggested I speak to Robin Levien. On Friday I gave him a call and arranged a meeting for next Friday. I mentioned the mentoring scheme, which he told me he had helped to set up.
I had another glaze firing this week, having painted another coat of underglaze on the two test pieces. They came out just before leaving College on Friday and were a definite improvement. They were sanded with 1000 grade wet & dry, giving the jet black one a silky very matt black basalt-like surface. It may be exactly what I’m looking for to contrast the mirror like black glaze.

I have designed a series of pieces to explore that contrast, each a pair, one with the matt inside, its partner matt outside.

The value of our research cluster was again made evident this week at the first of our Seminar room meetings and from a couple of conversations with Steve. The first was a comment that my glazed test torus looked like an event horizon. Looking up its meaning I thought how poetic a reading it was. It is a term used to describe the boundary of a black hole beyond which nothing is ever seen again or ever comes out of. It is also used to describe the edge of the visible universe, as the universe isn’t old enough for light to travel to us from beyond that point. Steve also raised the point that the white of my biscuit fired pieces isn’t much different to the black of the underglaze tests. My wish is to create a light-absorbing surface and white doesn’t have that quality. But it’s an observation worth thinking about.