Paper clay breaks the rules… well some of them…. sometimes… depending on what mood it’s in… and how you have treated it. This summer’s 3 day ceramics class (now a tradition) focussed on exploring paper clay. Very kindly our lovely tutor had already made up a batch for us, leaving us free to explore it’s potential and struggle with its unusual characteristics. For me I often struggle between the importance of process over product. In my head process is more important, especially when exploring a new material but the idea of a product is always there. Paper clay is fascinating, the process of applying the layers is incredibly tactile, and you can add things… grit, vermiculite, sand… anything really. It was a very interesting, messy, engaging process. At the back of my mind I was thinking about finish pieces, and of course my lovely fellow course attendees questions also encouraged me to consider my final output. But overall I was engaged by the making, the very messy making. We all made a lot of fragile objects, and for most of us the fragility was scary, we are all usually quite robust makers! The ability to manipulate the clay into very fine points and edges also made for some quite dangerous pieces as the edges were incredibly sharp once fired.
I made a whole range of bits and pieces, mainly vessels and was keen to keep them quite plain in order to show the texture that had been created. I also wanted to contrast the sharp, rough texture of some of the vessels by adding glass to create smooth channels and pools as a form of respite. Using oxides allowed me to pick out the texture and also kept quite an earthy feel to these forms.