So I was debating wether to show this to you. You see it’s a art project that did not exactly come together the way I wanted it to. However I then discovered a new technique that I had thought about in the past but have never tried as the situation had not occurred. Am I sounding cryptic yet?
Well the thought came over me last night while recovering from a seizure (that other part of my life that isn’t perfect) that art, just like life, isn’t always perfect or how you imagined it would turn out. Sometimes art starts off as one thing and then evolves to be something else entirely.
Salvador Dali, who happens to be one of my favourite artists of all time once said
“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
This is not to be a downer but it sums up art. Artwork is subjective and so it cannot be perfect. Everyone has their own definition of perfection and you just can’t please everyone in one piece of artwork. So on that thought I decided I would share with you my clock project
My clock became a idea when I was trying to find something for my mums birthday present… she is so difficult to buy for, but a couple of the clocks round the house were not keeping time as well as they had, I thought I would make a clock.
Back in May I started going to Pottery classes. That is throwing clay and also sculpting. The first couple of months it is intense learning all the different techniques needed for basic Pottery, after they feel that you know the basics and have made full completed good pieces on your own…. Well your on your own! the lecturer is there if you want to ask a question but questions are it. So since May I’ve turned out quite a few lovely items that I’ve been really proud of. It’s been such a steep but rewarding learning curve, and this clock was just the same.
I was not sure how to share the experience with you, so I decided a simple step by step process would show you the lengths taken to turn out pottery, and how it can sometimes change as you go.
I prepared my clay, with that I mean I threw it onto the hard concrete block to get out all the air bubbles!
With 2 measured pieces of beading that you get at the diy shop I places my clay between them and begin rolling out a slab
Once my slab was the correct size I picked out a template (in my case the base of a Pottery wheel) and cut around it to reveal the base of my clock.
It was now time for numbers! I decided that having raised numbers for all would be too overpowering, the look I wanted was more household than industrial. So I created 3,6,9 and 12 out of templates I have previously printed out at home and cut them out and stuck them onto the clock with slip.
(Slip is is a liquefied suspension of clay particles in water. Slip has more clay content than its other close relative slurry. It is usually the consistency of heavy cream and is great for sticking clay to clay like glue).
For the other numbers I still wanted something there as my mum likes clocks with a full set of numbers. For these I carved out a heart for each of the missing numbers so that was 1,2,4,5,7,8,10 and 11. I didn’t want to add the actual number as I was going to do that once painted.
Then being really precise on measuring the middle of the clock, pierced a hole in the centre and created space for the clock movement to go. I then smoothed off the edges to enable a tiny gap between the movement and the clock so that the hands would not stick.
Bisque fire is the first firing and is usually only to Cone 5 and 945
Next was painting! I painted the clock with mayo stroke and coat paint in a neutral grey colour 60 – Silver lining, over this a little glitter. For the in between numbers I think it was 70 – Pink a dot. For the accented numbers I used Flüssigglasur brush on glaze in 9575 Black gold.
Glaze firing – Next the clock was put back in the kiln at Cone 6 and at 996 degrees C. As it was glazed it was stilted so that not only could the reverse be painted and it wouldn’t damage the pottery, but also so that the kiln would not get damaged by the glaze melting onto the shelves.
Well this is where it went slightly not as planned! Like with all pottery firing is a necessary risk in that it has to be done but you always risk cracking, breakages and glaze to not go as planned. In this case I ended up with a huge break (however quite even!). The clock came out in 2 pieces broken from 1 – 7. C’est la vie! There is no-one to blame, everything was done correctly but its a potters risk that we take overtime and you get use to the fact that working for hours, days and sometimes weeks on a project doesn’t mean it will work. A saying in pottery is “never sell anything on the wheel”. Not that this was for sale but the saying is a good one.
So how to fix a break? Sometimes it is hopeless and no matter what you can’t fix it. I discovered a new technique, while researching solutions that I had thought about in the past but have never tried as the situation had not occurred… this was my chance. A bigger scale than I imagined my first attempt would be but nothing like jumping into the deep end right?!
Fixing bowls and plates which are for using with food are a lot more tricky to fix however it can still be done using this technique. Luckily mine is a clock and therefore I’ve a lot more flexibility in what I can do with it as I don’t have to work on sealing it to make it safe for putting food or drink on it.
So what is this technique?
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery. The thing that attracted me to this technique is the philosophy that the pottery and breakage is treated as part of the history of the object, rather than something to disguise. Its showing off the fact that things are not always perfect. It will mean that this clock has a story which instead of being hidden will be told. A total openness and honesty of its journey. It really inspired me.
So I did my own interpretation of this using materials I had to hand. I used Building products specialist, super fast plus versatile adhesive which Is a high industrial superglue. I made sure I placed the clock on greaseproof paper for this as I didn’t want to ruin my tabletops… once this stuff goes on something, it is not coming off! As the break meant that the inside was still plain bisque this worked quite well (I’m not sure if it would be as good on glazed pottery. However I have been researching and if you wanted to glue glazed pottery together a silicone based glue works best. Epoxy resin comes in at second.
Once the glue had dried I gently sanded off the bits which ran out with a nail file. Brushed off the dust and washed the area with soap and water so that the dust was removed.
Next step… to make it a feature. I used mod lodge matt and some silver leaf (not the real stuff but some card making flakes of silver. I slowly put on the mod podge and then placed the silver flakes over it.
I let it dry and then brushed the excess flakes off. This revealed a thin line where the crack was. I did this for both the front and the back as well as a couple of chips that occurred.
Adding the clock movement. The next thing to finish the clock was to add the movement to it. This was just a case of putting the main part through the hole in the centre and putting the hands in the correct order (harder than you think when there are 3 hands and washers and a nut and no instructions!)
This was a project which I didn’t quite expect to go this way however just like in life, I made the best out of a bad situation.
What do you think… My interpretation of Kintsugi. Have you ever tried to use this technique? If so how did it go? Let me know.
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