Woven vase

Updated: Jan 17

For my second object I reflected on what I enjoy about objects. After questioning this (see doc. on previous blog post following tutorial with Oscar) I decided to focus on texture. I feel drawn to textural objects for their tactile nature and being drawn to touch. As we discussed in the handling session of the ILEA collection, being about to touch an object gives you a greater understanding of it. Also, the idea of creating detail within/on an object is something that interests me, so the ability to do this without images or illustration but through a pattern and texture excites me.


I also questioned the kind of objects I enjoy. Often my initial response to projects is creating a sort of vessel. What do I like about vessels? - the idea of functionality within a sculptural or decorative object. This multi-function and changeability of the object, it can just be used as a decoration or employed within the home. Im interested in the purpose of objects, which was also one of the first things I explored with each of my chosen ILEA Collection objects. I feel having an object with a purpose adds more value to it, as it serves its owner in a practical and also aesthetic way.


Combining these two interests, I wanted to create a weaved texture on a ceramic vessel. I like the idea of making something that looks like something else - such as a ceramic vase that resembles a wicker woven basket.

I usually have a very linear way of working, beginning with simple line drawings which I then develop into more detailed and 3 dimensional drawings, then moving on to making my object. As suggested by Bridget, I wanted to explore disrupting this pattern and seeing how it would impact my making. I started drawing but then decided to stop - I knew what type of object I wanted to make, so just started making and let my hands work cohesively with the clay to determine what form would come out.


I have started reading Richard Sennett's 'The Craftsman' which explores this subject further. He describes making as thinking, so allowing myself to think through my hands as I explore the materials determines the final form. Touching and working with the material enables my hands and body to learn, meaning that this gained knowledge is what drives my skills and abilities in my making practice.

I allowed myself to build by allowing my hands to guide the final form. I knew the size I wanted it to be (about 20cm tall - domestic size) and the rough shape, but let my hands determine the shape as I made.



I experimented on a sample of coils to see which kind of tool would created the weaved effect the most effectively, including using my own fingers. I concluded that I liked the appearance of the bottom right tool the most, so used this on the coil built vessel.


Final form:




Reflection:


This object excites me - I like its size because its a nod to domestic wear, its small enough to be used in the everyday home, but I like the idea of contrasting functionality with sculpture. Similar to how domestic items in the ILEA collection are treated completely differently to what they were designed for (mugs not held by handles, very carefully picked up with two hands and gloves etc), I like the idea of making something that could be functional and used in the home, but that it never will be and instead is viewed as a sculptural/decorative object. Changing the context of the object - where it is displayed, if anything is put inside the vessel etc changes its value and purpose. If I put a bunch of flowers in water inside and place it in my kitchen, its a domestic vase - a practical object. Often these types of objects are seen as less valuable as they're more common and often more easily replaceable, commercial objects. If I place it on a plinth in a museum, it won't be touched by anyone without gloves, it would be handled with far greater care and seen as a fragile artistic/historic object. I like the idea of making the vase functional (by firing it to full temperature) but then it never being used and only handled with extreme care.


The texture of the ceramic is another element that I find exciting. Manipulating a material to look like another, especially when baskets are often used heavily and thrown around in the home, seen as durable and not particularly valuable - creating a 'basket' in ceramic questions these ideas and makes it suddenly very fragile. Also without a glaze the edges are quite sharp, making it impractical to handle or used as a domestic object. I like this element as it again looks like something that would be very useable, and because it is stoneware after its final firing it will be a functional object if so desired, but because it is sharp and not easy to handle, its purpose changes and it becomes something just to be looked at - similar to once the objects were put into the ILEA collection.


Such new contexts often give objects a higher value - traditional crafts are often seen as common and not valuable despite often being very well made. The corn dolly in the collection was likely something owned and made by a family, thus only holding a sentimental value. By putting the object in the ILEA Collection, it becomes a piece of history and a precious artefact. I like this change in relationship between people and the object, with functional objects having no practical interactions. Furthermore, by changing the material I can alter the value of the object. e.g. making the basket out of ceramic instead of wheat, it makes it more fragile but also heavier, changing how it has to be handled and interacted with.


Glazing:


Considering how to glaze this piece.

Leave it unglazed and raw stoneware? - creamy/light brown/yellow slightly speckled finish. Or glaze with a natural looking glaze colour (browns) to create something similar to the finish of wheat?


Going through some of the glaze books I own - want to test glazes to see which creates a satin type finish. I want a it to be somewhat shiny so it reflects light as the wheat of the corn dolly does, but not overly glossy and glass like.



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