I thought I’d just add a post to expand a bit more on the Sasha Wardell workshop at the Scottish Potters’ Association AGM weekend at Kindrogan Field Centre in March. As I mentioned, Sasha was very kind and allowed me to video a couple of her techniques in her last workshop of the weekend.
The earlier workshops had included demonstrations of mould making and working with plaster, and the multi-layered slip casting process which is a trademark of Sasha’s work.
The workshop I sat in on was the last step in the process, once the slip-cast pieces are removed from the mould and left overnight till they’re completely bone dry. At this point, Sasha employs three different finishing/pattern techniques.
The first, which I photographed but didn’t video, is carving. This is usually employed on pieces with just two layers of slip; an external coloured slip and interior white. Sasha uses tools to carve the raindrop-like pattern from the top layer, exposing the white layer underneath. This piece is carved when it is leather-hard, rather than bone dry. When this is fired, it shows the amazing translucency that can be achieved in Bone China.
The second was the ‘Slicing’ technique, which is applied to pots of up to four layers of slip. I had seen the slip-casting process for this the previous day and it was fascinating to see how this developed into such a unique and wonderful end design. At this point I did remember my phone had video capability and Sasha very generously allowed me to hang over her shoulder while she worked and explained the process. (Apologies for the relatively poor videography on my phone)
The final technique was one that I found most fascinating and will be trying very shortly myself. This is the ‘Water Erosion’ method of decoration. After ‘painting’ the required pattern on to the bone-dry single-colour pot using a Liquitex Matt Medium resist (shaded blue using food colouring for ease of application), a damp sponge is used to ‘erode’ the bare slip in the areas where the resist has not been applied. In a surprisingly short period of time, a very definite ’embossed’ pattern emerges, leaving the painted pattern as a raised design and the eroded areas much thinner, again highlighting the translucency of the Bone China. The video demonstrates this much better than I can describe.
The whole weekend was wonderfully inspiring and we hope to post up images of our attempts at the water erosion technique on porcelain eggs shortly.
The videos are shared here with the very kind permission of Sasha Wardell. I hope you’ll visit her site and take a look at her work.