Work Placement at The Kiln Rooms

I am currently part of the work placement programme at The Kiln Rooms, a Peckham based ceramics studio with 3 sites around Peckham. They offer classes and open access ceramics studio spaces for members and as part of their work placement programme I work for them 7 hours a week, during which I am training on the job as a ceramics technician. This includes learning about the kilns (how to load, unload and operate), mixing glazes, learning about different techniques and types of clay/other materials, and the general upkeep and day to day running of the open access space in Bellenden Road. As part of this I have free access to the staff studio space 24/7 in Peckham Levels, and free kiln and glaze use. I started there on October 6th and have been working on a few of my own smaller projects since being there, using the staff space before and after shifts at my job in Peckham. I hope that this opportunity will allow me to grow my practice as I don’t currently have a lot of experience with ceramics- I hand sculpted the ceramic bones for the River project during my MA but didn’t get to learn much in terms of techniques or the potential of ceramics as a medium as I just sculpted the familiar shapes using the same kind of techniques as I used with the waxes I made as part of the bronze casting process, and as I used to with polymer clay (which I worked with as a hobby in whilst in school and college).

I have already learnt a lot in the past few months since I started there; regarding the technical side of things like mixing glazes, kiln temperatures, the correct way to pack and unpack kilns depending on if it is bisque or glaze firing, and other bits like this. I think my main goals moving forward are to improve on these skills and gain more knowledge, and I also want to learn how to throw properly on a wheel and how to slip cast. I have a lot of experience with mould making in other materials, so I am looking forward to trying my hand at various kinds of plaster mould for slip casting- I have some ideas that involve lots of objects of different shapes and sizes that I want to cast in ceramic so it should be a good opportunity for learning and experimenting! I also want to learn how to throw properly- I have had a few attempts and so far have only completed one very tiny little pot. It turned out to be much harder than I thought it would be, so I need to watch some more tutorials online and keep trying.

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Above: photos of my first attempt on the wheel, my first pot before drying, and then a photo of it after the bisque firing. I have also glazed it since then and need to add a photo of it. For a first attempt I am pleased with it, although I think I may need tutoring or classes in order to learn to throw properly- whilst I like the shape of the pot it is much smaller than I was intending, and it is wonky where the clay wasn’t centered properly.

I’m also keen to try and get back into jewelry making, so I have been experimenting with shapes and form to create something (hopefully) different and interesting!

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Above: exploring forms through jewelry, showing the initial forms, then first firing, glaze firing, and final glazed pieces.
I want to try and make more delicate forms as these are quite clunky and I also need more practice with glazing. As well as this I have purchased thinner rods for the pendant stand shown in the photos because I’m not happy with how large the holes are on each piece- I feel it isn’t as aesthetically pleasing.

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I tried to make a coiled dish (coiling is a technique where you take a sausage of clay and coil it tightly to form the shape you want) but it collapsed, and as I went to squash it and start over it took on the vague shape of a vagina- so I decided to sculpt it into one, ending up with the above piece, which I have since bisque fired. I hope to glaze it soon.

Overall I feel I have a lot to learn- as mentioned I would like to learn to slip cast and throw, and I would also like to improve my sculpting techniques.

 

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