The workshop experience I had with Vicky Shaw has left me with a lot of new areas to explore and ideas to develop. I’m indebted to The Artists Information Company for giving me this chance to step back from my own mark making practice and consider and acquire skills that will take me into new areas of decoration. This has been a very valuable time and I look forward to seeing how it influences the direction my work takes in the future.
My second three day session concentrated on integrating the screen printed, leather hard plaques into the hybrid cast and thrown vessels for which I’m known. The bottom of my vessels pieces are cast in a mould, so now I began working with Vicky to incorporate my screen printed plaques of clay within the slip-cast form. These were sprayed with water to soften them and tacked onto the inside of the plaster mould securing them with extra clay. Only then did we add the slip. The hope was that the marks already in the mould along with the plaques would blend together to form the decoration as the slip thickened. After draining the mould of excess slip, the top of the vessel would be thrown and attached to the decorated and moulded bottom. The results after much experimentation resulted in more precise mark making, but with a softer more flowing feel to it.
Vicky works from her studio near Stoke-on-Trent and it was there that I first met her and her husband John, also a well known potter. Her studio was lovely, a good light workspace which gave me ideas and inspiration on how to organise my own studio. Top of the list was a supply of hot water and rows of cupboards on wheels to facilitate cleaning.
During this first three day session, Vicky introduced me to the basics of what we would be covering: screen printing, using paper stencils and photographic emulsion stencils, and mono-printing onto leather hard clay and bisque ware. We were also to explore pigment transfer using pottery tissue.
We started by printing onto flat sheets of clay building up layered images by mixing elements of screen printing with other transfer techniques. I combined my own mark making with Vicky’s own prepared screen patterns and was very pleased with the results.
I was then taught to shape the decorated clay over shallow plaster moulds, turning the 2-dimensional slabs into 3-dimensional vessels.
As a result of being awarded a professional development bursary from The Artists Information Company, I was able to explore the possibilities of screen printing directly onto unfired and fired clay. This bursary was to give me the opportunity to further develop my mark making skills by layering another printmaking technique into my ceramic surfaces.
I chose to work alongside Vicky Shaw, an established freelance maker who specialises in ceramic print. Our time together was to be spent in two, three day workshop blocks, with time between these sessions left free for me to explore and experiment with the new techniques. This was to be one-to-one tuition, specifically tailored to my requirements and existing skill level; I could hardly wait to begin!