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

The iPotter

We have the technology...
I have evolved from making ceramics with almost pre-Industrial Revolution materials and technology to manufacturing them using technology from the next Industrial Revolution. In doing so my practice has virtually leapt 250 years.

...and the materials
The majority of my friends from the Studio Pottery world are baffled. My work no longer shares one of the prime motivations of handmade ceramics- the expression of material qualities and processes.
The process I now use prevents me from capturing a moment in time in the same way as I could with liquid coloured slips, but my approach to the design and digital manufacture of pieces like The Wedgwoodn't Tureen doesn't divorce me from the need to engage with material qualities.
So if I loose something that was an important ingredient, what do I gain? Freedom.
I am liberated from some of the restrictions of material properties; I don't have to think about the centrifugal forces that impose their effects on the form of a thrown pot; gravity has no influence.
Most importantly I am freed from the 'baggage' associated with Studio Pottery, whose genesis was the Arts and Craft Movement and its rejection of the dehumanising effects of industrial production and the division of labour.
In fact, the process I employ now has the potential to turn the circle back to the pre-Industrial Revolution days of direct contact between the maker and the customer. 3D printing or Additive Manufacturing (AM) or whatever you wish to call it, is not restricted by the need for moulds or tooling. A design can be customised for customer before it is manufactured.

A blacksmith gains the skills required to choose the right metal for the job through direct experience (tacit knowledge). Materials need to be appropriate to the task asked of them and as AM is primarily a material based technology, with new materials and variations coming onto the market on a regular basis, then those engaged with them surely require the same skills as the blacksmith.

As part of my RCA project I used The Wedgwoodn't Tureen to test the capabilities of the software, hardware and materials of AM and particularly the materials and processes developed by Axiatec. Now that I have acquired a basic understanding, I can go on to exploit the freedom that they give me. Through the design and production of new work I continue my testing and expand my tacit knowledge in the process.
Having divorced myself from the Studio Pottery movement, the approach to my work is bound to be framed by 25 years of making pots, but my new work has been able to take on a more conceptual direction, engaging with ideas that I hope the viewer will find thought-provoking.

(to be continued.....)