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


When Tuesday morning arrived this week, I decided that my chesty cough was best dealt with at home. I wouldn’t be coughing and spluttering over the population of London and I could get on with some quiet making and writing.
My attempt to write the section on perception finally got underway, one of the interesting things being that each time I searched for relevant information, Richard Gregory’s name came up. He has written a book with E H Gombrich, which I must now revisit, and I believe Gombrich has written one on Art and perception.

In the workshop I made 4 pairs of the disc pieces during the course of the week, managing to apply the black underglaze and leaving them to dry slowly over the next week or so. I hope to be able to biscuit fire them next weekend, but as the heating will be off in the workshop that may not be possible for all of them. I hope to get them through in time for the College interim show at the end of November, but they will crack if I rush them.

On Thursday I made a very interesting visit to the Ideal Standard factory in Middlewich in Cheshire. Steve Hill-Cousins, one of the technical managers who was very generous with his time, showed me around the factory. The mixture of automation and craftsmanship was interesting. The sleek designs are produced from very complex moulds made by highly skilled workers. Ideas, like the use of magnets to hold the internal sections together may be new, but they are employing the same traditional techniques that have been used since the Industrial Revolution.
They use two kinds of slip- vitreous china and fine fireclay. Both are once fired to the same temperature, 1210°C. For me the fireclay has advantages over the china, it only has 5% shrinkage so glaze compatibility may be a problem, so it will need testing. I brought a small bucketful back with me and cast up one of my tealight holders in the afternoon. It was biscuit fired on Saturday and glazed with the metallic black glaze. The result looks successful, but as the glaze cooled it was ‘pinging’ a little, suggesting that it was crazing. Nothing is visible to the naked eye, but I’ll talk it through with Keith, the chief technician at College and maybe ask to discuss it with Nigel Woods, the glaze expert.

So considering I started the week feeling pretty grotty, it turned out to be highly productive. I missed the camaraderie of the other students, but it made me think that staying home is an option if I want a concentrated period without disturbance. It is probably more useful for making than writing, as I would need to ensure that I had all the reference material to hand for writing, but the library at Lancaster University may be accessible to me.