First hands-on day: Mark Making

We had the H&S talk with Geoff and got stuck in.  Dave began by telling us about the clays, went through tools, and wedging – ram’s head, spiral and block wedging.  The main event was mark making.  He went through methods of slabbing – hand rolling with guides, using a harp, using the roller, then demonstrated some ideas for making marks and texture (see below).  He used the corner of a piece of wood, the end of the small stick, a pipe, a knife, rolled creased fabric, his fingers – stretching and distorting the slabs, or lighting rolling to flatten the texture, before using the tile template to cut the tiles.


Wedging was a new experience for me.  I like ram’s head, although it’s slow and I need some more practice.  I had a go at spiral – so difficult – but it’s a lopsided method which I don’t think is great for joints.  Didn’t get chance to try block wedging.


This is my selection of wet clay tiles.  Top left – flat edge of wooden kidney walked along surface in 3 rows and rolled.  Top middle – my second attempt – using a pipe, stamping all over, then rolling.  Top right – second attempt – pie crust pinches, 3 rows, rolled. Middle left – curved kidney rocked.  Middle – corner of wooden kidney, lightly rolled (very boring!).  Middle right – second attempt – hacking.  Bottom left – kitchen knife chopped on surface. Bottom Middle – second attempt – round stick, distorted.


These were leather hard.  Left – used the loop tool shown to scope out slivers.  Middle – toothed kidney, curved edge rocked across, then loop tool lines.  I don’t know if the texture will disappear when glazed. Right – I used my small modelling tool with the rounded end, hammering the surface.  I liked the differential depths, so added some more deeper holes and medium depth holes.  It will be interesting to see how it looks when glazed.

We finished the day making slabs for Thursday.

Matthew made some interesting distressed textures by heating the surface with the ‘dryer’.  He’d seen the effect at Aberystwyth.  I’ve searched and found Billy Adams, who billy

uses  ‘Porcelain, stoneware & crank; oxides, slips, lustres and crater glazes; throwing & handbuilding’.  His method:

‘Pieces of clay were torn off amazingly firm, almost leather-hard slabs, made from a thick laminate of a porcelain type and stoneware clay which he stretched and thinned slightly by slapping on the floor.
The porcelain layer starts to crack and creates the textured surface that is so effective. The torn pieces were roughly joined and assembled into a partial globe using a plaster mould to help shape the form. The edges were left roughened and jagged and a layer of crank was smoothed over the inside surface to add strength.
Billy’s trademark handle was inserted into the form and an extra coil of crank was attached to the top edge to create a sense of thickness.
A foot ring set the finished pot slightly off-centre.
Billy usually fires his work several times using slips, glazes and lustres and
often his work is built up using a thrown base to which the textured, hand-built
part is added.’

Also found this in Ceramic Art Daily by Robin Hopper   Here sodium silicate is painted on the outside of a wet clay pot, and a heat gun is applied to create cracking and crackling.

And Stephen De Staebler (d2011):


‘Two Geologies’ Standing Figure with Ribs / Standing Woman with missing hip, 1978 | Pigmented stoneware and porcelain with surface oxides

And his wife, Danae Mattes:



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