Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ink and Clay 36 at the Kellogg Art Gallery, CalPoly Pomona.

Here's a write up about this show by the San Gabriel Valley tribune.

The photographer must have taken a liking to my piece, Terra Nova.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Paperclay and Inclusions - Part 4

This may be the first time some people have seen this material (top picture). Rice hulls, also called rice husks is the outer covering of the rice grain. Once this is removed, you have white rice. It took me a while to track this down. Finally I found it at a local feed store. It comes in a 25 lb. bag, is used as bedding for horses and it not expensive.

For my hand-pinch bowls, I wedge the rice hulls into my paperclay. How much to add? If you want more texture, add more rice hull. Use less for a subtler effect. There should still be enough paperclay to hold everything together. You will know it if what you make does not hold up. In that case, add in more paperclay and wedge till the rice hull is evenly distributed in the paperclay. You can also press the rice hulls onto the outside surface of your form but this will give a different kind of look/texture.

This material gives a VERY delicate texture (the second picture is the couples cups on its stand, the bottom picture is a close up shot of the texture) so I opt to use oxides instead of glazes. A heavy application of red iron oxide give a very grayish gun metal color in Cone 10 reduction firing. I often use this oxide to contrast against a lighter colored glaze which I use for the inside of my hand-pinched forms.

In addition to creating interesting textures in paperclay, you can also use the rice hulls as a organic combustion source for your raku post-firing reduction.

Happy experimenting!

Micaceous Clay

I was able to try out two samples of micaceous clay while I was at the Paperclay Artist Symposium earlier this year (see earlier post).

Cynthia Dahlstrom (Greenville, Alabama) who was one of the guest presenters uses micaceous paperclay for her carved relief sculptures. She gets the mica clay from New Mexico Clay Company and then adds paper pulp to the clay.

Here's a direct link to her picture in front of her work taken at the Paperclay Artist Symposium.

One of the benefits of the paperclay version of the micaceous clay is that it reduces the warping and cracking on her rather large flat panels. Her work is intricately carved, sometimes as many as 5 layers deep, then painstakingly hand-burnished, pit fired and then smoked to achieve the colors and results she is looking for.

I enjoyed her presentation very much and found her to be a very personable artist with southern charm and humor. She even made mica clay fortune cookies for us to try our hands at hand-burnishing these little things. It was a lot of fun.

From the mica clay samples she gave out, I made these two small simple pinch forms (2.25"H x 3"W at the rim). They have been bisqued fired. Mica clay is a low fire clay so cone 06 is high as you would want to go to keep the burnished look.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Grogzilla, Godzilla, Moxilla, etc

I found out about this high-grogged NON-paperclay called Grogzilla™ when I attended my first paperclay workshop with Graham Hay in Santa Clara at Clay Planet back in 2007. It is manufactured by Clay Planet and is rated to Cone 10.

What attracted me to this "traditional/regular" clay was its rough texture and the little bits of "white godzilla teeth." That was my first impression of the feldspar crystals that popped from its surface. (See close up shot below) It does look like little dinosaur teeth so I thought the name was quite appropriate.

This hand-pinched bowl was fired in Steve Davis' kazegama ash kiln at Aardvark. I applied a thin layer of flashing slip on the top 1/3 of the bowl. The rest of the bowl was left bare. You can see the ash glaze over the flashing slip as a slight grayish brown coating. At high temperatures in the kiln, the feldspar crystals in the clay break through the surface and melt into little white globules.

I enjoy this texture very much and have been using this clay in my "sandwich" technique. (See earlier post). Paperclay allows me to incorporate this "regular" clay into my paperclay sculptures.

What's going on?

I made several of these hand-pinched rice mixed with paperclay bowls sometime ago. The inside was coated with Southern Ice porcelain paperclay since I wanted to use the Celadon glaze.

After Cone 10 reduction, I found all my bowls had cracks in them. On the bottom of some of them, it looked like the Celadon glaze had pooled and formed a thick layer.

I was puzzled as to what happened as I had successfully used this method before. I decided to break some of them open to see what was going on inside. The bottom picture shows the culprit and the cause for the cracks.

I concluded that the Southern Ice porcelain paperclay was applied too thickly and in the high fire it contracted more than my regular paperclay and separated from the "shell."

This time around, instead of layering the Southern Ice porcelain paperclay layer by layer using the brush (this is the way I normally do it; it is a slow process but you have control over the thickness of the porcelain application), I decided to do something similar to slip casting, ie pouring my Southern Ice paperclay slip into my bone dry rice-and-paperclay bowls, wait for a while and then emptying the excess out. This resulted in too thick of an application of the Southern Ice porcelain paperclay. My experience with this porcelain paperclay is that it shrinks more than the regular paperclay and when this inner layer is too thick, it is has enough cohesion to pull/shrink away from the bottom of the bowl.

There are several ways to get around this:
1. Go back to layering the inner porcelain layer by hand with the brush method.
2. Use a thinner porcelain paperclay slip.
3. Wet down the bone dry bowl a bit so that it is not so "thirsty" and won't "suck up" the porcelain slip too quickly.
4. Do not wait too long to pour out the excess, if you are using the slip cast method.

I'm back using the #1 method as I can control how many layers of the porcelain slip I apply. I have not experimented with the other methods.

Paperclay and Inclusions - Part 3

This brings me to one of my favorite drinks - coffee!

This is ground coffee that I get back home in Malaysia. As you can see, it is very coarse. Not all the coffee is ground so coarse. I shook my coffee container to bring up the coarsest bits to show the texture. I use it in my french press to make my morning brew.

The grounds can be saved, dried and then mixed with your paperclay to create interesting textures. One caveat. You want to make sure you dry out the grounds completely before you mix it into the paperclay to minimize "blow out" problems

Monday, March 15, 2010

Okay ... Let's try it again

If the first time you don't succeed, try again.

I'm sure we all do that in our ceramics, so here I am with this familiar form again. My new bowl is the one on the right side. The left one suffered collateral damage in the kiln when someone else's piece blew up and their shards fell inside my bowl (see earlier post).

This hand-pinched bowl shape has come to mean a lot to me. It is a very simple form, albeit a BIG one, made from one big ball of Black Mountain sculpture clay. It's 9" across at the rim, 11" across at its widest point and 7" high. This is still greenware, drying in my studio. This second bowl is even larger than my first one.

This is the story and inspiration behind this bowl.

In many South East Asian countries (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia) where there is a strong Buddhist influence, saffron-robed Buddhist monks would come out of their monastery everyday at sunrise with their begging bowls to receive alms from the public. In Thailand especially, you see people line up by the road side waiting for the monk's arrival. The monks accept whatever is given in total silence and with gratitude. In Buddhism, giving such alms (consisting of food, fruits, biscuits, or whatever one can offer) brings you good karma. For these monks, this is their only food collection of the day. Whatever is collected is taken back to the monastery and shared with everyone for their only meal of the day before noon.

This pinch bowl is my interpretation of the monk's begging bowl. Theirs is usually made of brass for durability. I want this form to be simple, yet convey a sense of quiet beauty and strength. It is big and has some heft to it. I want this to represent the heavy responsibility these monks have taken upon themselves in the service of others. I've chosen the Black Mountain sculpture clay to complement this feeling. No glaze is needed on the outside.

Mixing Green with Red

Nothing better than a bowl of freshly whisked green tea!

The picture does not do justice to the beautiful green color of the matcha with its distinctive foamy head.

This tea was made in one of the bowls from my recently completed tea set (see earlier post). The outside is stained with iron oxide and manganese dioxide. Tomato red glaze was used for the inside of the bowls. Fired to Cone 10 reduction.

Perlite and Paperclay - Part III

This was a small test block I made with perlite and paperclay - 1" square x 4"H.

After the bisque fire, I sanded the sides to expose the voids. No glazes or oxides were used on the surface of the test piece. It was fired to Cone 10 reduction. The warm toasty color is the natural color of this manufacturer's paperclay (IMCO).

In this piece, you can see the melted perlite in the voids better (about 1/2" off the base near the right edge).

For some applications, this may be an interesting texture to have.

Perlite and Paperclay - Part II

This hand pinched form was made from perlite mixed with my regular sculpture paperclay. (Sold by Aardvark, Santa Ana, CA. This was their old batch of paperclay from IMCO, Sacramento. Aardvark is now making and carrying Rosette Gault's formulation for her own patented P'Clay™)

Enough perlite was mixed with my paperclay to give a good texture on my form. The piece was first bisqued. The resulting voids were exposed by sanding the piece with a metal rasp. An iron oxide wash was applied on the outside of the piece while the inside was glazed with carbon trap shino. The piece was fired to Cone 10 reduction. Size of the pinch form is 3.75"H x 4.5"Dia.

My observations:
1. Compared to my normal addition of using cooked rice as an organic inclusion, the perlite gives a wider assortment of void sizes - ranging from the size of coarse sand to almost 1/4" in diameter. Cooked rice gives a more uniform void size.
2. Some of the perlite remaining in the voids melted at the Cone 10 temperature and this is seen as a slightly opaque glassy residue in the voids.
3. The perlite inclusion at the bisque stage is more resistant to sanding with a metal file compared to other organic inclusions, for example, cooked rice or rice hulls.
4. The piece is rather light so you do get the benefit of a weight reduction.
5. There was no "blow out" from using perlite.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Paperclay | Today Workshop & Artist Symposium, Feb. 1-7, 2010

"What if you organized a paper clay artist symposium and nobody showed up?"

This was the very first paper clay artist symposium in the United States. The entire event was expertly organized by Linda Saville of Laguna Beach Ceramics. Thanks, Linda! And you were concerned that no artist would show up. Well, we did and what a wonderful experience it was!

4 days of workshops led by Graham Hay (Australia) and Rosette Gault (Seattle, WA), capped off by 2 days of symposium from international and national paper clay artists from Australia, Canada, England, Italy, Wales, Malaysia (yours truly) and the USA.

I was one of two Southern California paper clay artists presenting my work. I spent about 90 minutes showing slides of my past, current and work-in-progress works and fielded a lot of questions. The topic of my presentation was "Creating wonderful textures with Paperclay."

In all, 19 artists spent time with the participants showcasing what they do with paper clay. I found the exchange throughly invigorating. Seeing how other artists from around the world use paper clay was a great eye opener. This will encourage me to further expand my own experimentation by pushing the limits of this medium. I think as artists, we work alone most of the time, so it was very refreshing getting a large group of artists working in the same medium, exchanging ideas and sharing our work.

Paper clay as a ceramic sculpture medium has been increasing in popularity in the US for the past several years. This is very encouraging as paper clay has its own advantages over "traditional/regular" clay. (See my earlier posts). Even today, paperclay as a ceramic medium is woefully underrepresented. My hope is that this will soon begin to change as more and more people working in ceramics find out about paperclay. Already it is happening in the US.

Once you understand the fundamentals of paper clay, you will find going back to a "traditional" clay very limiting. I can't wait till the 2nd USA international paperclay symposium in 2012!!

Here's the direct link to pictures taken during the week, courtesy of Graham Hay:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Soaring Voices - Contemporary Japanese Women Ceramic Artists Exhibition

It's great to see contemporary ceramic art coming out of Japan and especially so from a group of Japanese women ceramic artists!

I found out about this show from one of the students from Kaoru Kaplan who teaches Japanese-inspired ceramics at the Irvine Fine Arts Center.

Here is the direct link to the English version of the announcement:

The official Japanese site is:

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tea Bowls and Hot Water Pot, 2010

For the past two years, the Irvine Fine Arts Center has sponsored their annual Spring tea set exhibition. It is a quiet event for ceramic artists and potters working at the IFAC to showcase their work and enjoy each other's company over a nice buffet dinner.

Unfortunately, this year the center has been so booked with shows and exhibitions that we won't be able to have this rather unique event. I was so looking forward to it.

This would have been my entry for this year's show, "Tea Bowls and Hot Water Pot." All the pieces are hand-made (no wheel here) from my sculpture paperclay. The outside texture is my distinctive "rice" texture. Iron oxide and manganese dioxide is used to give the deep brown to black color. This time I opt to use the Tomato Red glaze for the inside of the pieces, instead of Celadon. (I have too many pieces with Celadon and wanted to try another color variation). I think with freshly whisked powdered tea ("matcha"), the green frothy texture will play nicely against the rust red of the Tomato Red glaze. The bamboo tea whisk (called "chasen") and scoop ("chashaku") is store bought. I have been using them for over a year so they are getting nicely aged. Eventually the tea whisk will have to be replaced from normal wear and tear. The wooden stand of high quality birch plywood was specially made to display and complement this set.

Size: 14"W x 10"D (size of tray) x 10"H.

Here are the direct links for my previous entries.


Enjoy the tea sets!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ink and Clay 36

Here is the Ink and Clay 36 announcement. Below is an earlier post I made about my piece that will be in the show. The direct link is:

The beauty of Black Mountain

Black Mountain sculpture clay (from Aardvark) is one of my favorite "traditional/regular" clay. I like it for its texture, color and feel of it. Paperclay is my clay of choice and I use this Black Mountain clay when my sculpture calls for it. With paperclay, I can incorporate this "regular" clay using my "sandwich" technique (See earlier post). It gives a very nice contrast to the lighter colored clays (for example, southern ice porcelain paperclay) without the use of additional glazes.

I always let the clay dictate what kind of a rim the piece likes to have. I do not trim the rim at all. The natural way the rim develops in all of my pinch forms gives them their own uniqueness and personality. For me, this gives me a most satisfying feeling. The form becomes what it wants to be. I let it be and enjoy what it has become - naturally.

Size: 4.5" dia x 3.5"H. No glaze. Hi fire Cone 10 reduction. Black Mountain sculpture clay.

Business cards as framed art

I got these as my new business cards. They are called Moo Mini cards and I really like them. They are about 1/2 the size of a regular business card. The nice thing about this company is that you can have a different image on each of your 100-card order if you like.

I figured since I already have images of my sculptures I might as well re-purpose them and use them to make my unique business cards. I got this ready-made black acrylic frame from the same company as an art frame. What you see here is a collection of my cards. The way you arrange the cards are up to you. You can re-configure them to have a totally new look.

Taking a photograph of the framed "art" with a shiny acrylic protective piece over it is tricky, but you get the idea. I've cropped out the 1 1/2" black frame to give a better view of the cards themselves. I have 27 individual designs for my business cards, the frame here holds 20. I have purposely selected a close-up view of my sculptures to make them even more abstract and is interesting to go to my website to "hunt" for the image to see the entire piece.

The company also does regular size business cards, greeting cards, note cards, etc. Here's the link to the company, The layout of the cards is done online on their site.

If you do make your order by credit card, you will be charged a financial transaction fee as the company is based in the UK. The cards are of a heavy card stock and are printed and packaged in Rhode Island, USA. Sounds like I'm a salesperson for the company but I'm not and am not getting any compensation from them. Check them out if you are interested. The cards have worked out very well for me, and everyone I've given the card to is totally enamored by the uniqueness of the concept.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cone 5 porcelain paperclay - one firing.

These pinch forms are made from Aardvark Papel porcelain Cone 5 paperclay. It was fired to Cone 5 from greenware without going through the bisque stage. Shrinkage is about 15%. This is just an approximation. I did not make any measurements but they sure came out a lot smaller than when they went it.

A one-fire process saves time and more importantly, energy, either gas or electricity, so it's environmentally friendlier. To me, ceramics has never been a "green" undertaking as so much energy is needed to convert the raw clay to something that is totally different from the starting material.

Depending on your paperclay project, a one-fire process may be applicable to you.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Paperclay & Shrinkage

One of the things I get asked with paperclay is "How much does it shrink?" That is a valid question and after all, it's good to know all the technical details of the clay when one is working with it.

The paperclay and subsequent technical infomation provided here is manufactured by IMCO in Sacramento. It's a proprietary blend and is carried locally here in So. Calif by Aardvark Clay Company in Santa Ana, in 25lbs bag.

The information provided here is from my own experience.

From green to bone dry - 5 %
After bisque - not measured
After high fire (Cone 10 reduction) - 10%
Total shrinkage is around 15%

Considering other traditional clay bodies (total shrinkage ) is anywhere from 8% (low end) to 12-13%(high end), this paperclay shrinkage is quite a bit. It's good to know so you can compensate by making your pieces a bit larger than you normally would.