I have arrived at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Centre in Skaelskor, Denmark. It’s great to be back. Last time I was here it was the height of summer (last summer) and what a long hot summer it was! I cycled off to the beach every day for a dip in between experimenting with glazes, oh what a languorous time that sounds like. Well I did actually work really hard; the work ethic is enthusiastic here to say the least.
I spent all day Sunday until midnight writing an article for TACS magazine, Glazed Expressions, for their Contemporary Tilemaker slot. As well as all the admin and organising to go with this project, I still have my own work to keep up.
I have been playing around with the design for the wall piece I am making. Last summer when I was here, I came up with the idea for this piece, and did a lot of drawings and designed the individual elements – the wall piece is composed of multiple repeated relief forms on a botanical theme, inspired by the local Danish (summer) landscape. I made 6 out of 20(ish) of the designs into moulds and used them to experiment on. I tested lots of different clay bodies and did loads of glaze samples. I brought the original moulds back with me, and I plan to make as many new moulds as I have time for. I also plan to experiment with making closed slip cast moulds, which I think would be more suitable for these pieces so that can be hung on a wall easily.
I have been making some casts of the original moulds just to try out the various porcelain slips available here. In fact, the first thing I did when I arrived was get well and truly stuck into a giant bucket of slip that I made from the raw materials (a first for someone who is used to ordering bags of clay ready to use). As usual, I thought what would be a quick job turned out to take all afternoon. So today I’ve been testing that and I tried some ready mixed Royal Copenhagen slip, which a lovely material to use. Royal Copenhagen is the Wedgwood of Denmark and has recently followed a similar path. The main factory closed, they moved and are still here, but more as a figurehead. The vast majority of their ware is now made in China. I met someone at a party in Copenhagen last summer who works for Royal Copenhagen and she filled me in on the history. Even better, she offered to provide me with the recipe for the very slip I am now using…could come in handy. Couldn’t imagine Wedgwood giving their recipes away!