Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pru Morrison Mold-making Workshop

Last week we did a mold-making workshop with Pru Morrison at her fabulous Metro Arts Studio shared between about 5 other potters. How wonderful to work in this space- and share equipment and ideas with such an interesting group. We spent the first hour or so perving on works in progress and talking to Pru about her latest pieces bound for the big smoke.

Pru is an expert slip caster known for her slipcast simulacra of flasks, thermoses, bottles with legs and arms which she covers in naughty and thought-provoking terra sigilata drawings.
We wanted to learn the technique of making a plaster mold from an original form into which slip could later be poured. Shannon found a stick outside for that purpose. As we are casting from nature and Pru uses manufactured objects to create moulds, it was interesting for Pru as well as us as she figured out how to mold the stick. Pru's method was meticulous and patient. She was able to anticipate undercut problems and prevent them from occurring by leaving no dramatic corners and plugging up with clay. The cast object could later be carved back if necessary. The piece was done in halves- as a 2-part mold. Some of Pru's more complex shapes are 6 or 8 parts and it can take a number of days to create a mold that will register and release well.

Mixing and pouring the plaster was carefully done to minimise bubbles and while we were waiting we started to mold a cup handle from a 1950's cup. Before we knew it, it was 5 o'clock and we'd forgotten all about lunch!

The stick casting came apart perfectly and Pru said the mold was probably overengineered for the object but better to err on the safe side. I'm not sure that Shannon entirely agreed as she lugged the dinosaur-bone-like object back home on public transport!

We were both stuck by the contrast between Pru's crazy tattoo-like excisions on pots and her calm measured studio processes. But then you dont see many tattoo artists waving their arms around and emoting!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tea Tree

Leptospermum liversidgei or Leptospermum semibaccatum?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pouched Coral Fern

Originally uploaded by shannongarson
Making art from a collaboration is a bit like turning lead to gold. It's a mysterious process that requires a lot of faith and messing about with odd combinations and sticky stuff. We have started by visiting places together and collecting what I scientifically like to call "data". This means photos, drawings and impressions of the wallum. The impressions are literal, we have this strange putty-ish pink resin used for making dolls heads. You can pinch off a bit of this and soften it up in your hands then press it into leaves, rocks and bark. We came back from Poverty Point with a lot of impressions which I then cooked in the oven for about half and hour. One of my favourite forms of flora has been the Pouched Coral Fern . This amazing little fern contains it's spore in the myriad pouches along the stem.

The next time we go out I'll bring some porcelain. If the impressions pick up any organic matter it will burn out in the firing. As a ceramicist I've been looking at the initial impressions which is a negative of the form we cast. Rebecca uses a lot of impressions of the impressions creating a positive of the cast form.

Taking things out of context can reveal the abstract qualities such a line pattern and shape that are hard to discern in the complex quiet/noisy bush.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tin Can Melalueca

Melaleuca quinquenervia - the swamp paperbark saplings emerge from the twigrushes as the land runs down to the mangrove flats.

welcome to the wallum

The Wallum (Coastal lowland heath) areas of South-East Queensland are endangered but beautiful ecosystems often overlooked and threatened by encroaching pine plantations and residential ‘sea-change’ development. The humility of the low lying and stunted vegetation springing tenaciously from acidic soil is deceptive for like jewellery and small objects, huge variation (biodiversity) and intimate detail can exist on closer examination. The small but exquisitely jewel-like flowering and fruiting bodies, leaf types and stems provide forms to examine and draw out the metaphors and meanings of this rich ecotype.