Teaching abroad Day 1

I was initially quite nervous about teaching at the Ecole’s Intensiv Week, because I only knew the place through others’ (good) experiences, having never studied there myself; also, this time I was to be leading the classes, rather than being a teaching assistant.

Maria Maier (who interviewed me last year, and with whom I had been in correspondence since) was very keen to get stuck right in, as she already had some ceramic knowledge and wanted to expand her teaching vocabulary on it!

On Sunday we had discussed a tentative timetable for the week, and we had already discussed the project(s) that students could work on while I was to teach there.

In the morning break, we put together the timetable for the week (below).

I had brought along with me from Cardiff two large hardcover books which I had deemed suitable and instructive yet inspirational enough, and the students were happy to look through them for ideas, which they then sketched. I was surprised that the kids didn’t want to sketch for very long – they wanted to get their hands on the clay as soon as they could!

There were varying levels of previous contact with clay across the different year groups in the class (a total of 8 people aged between 13 and 19, not including myself and Maria). Some of the younger students had not had any contact with clay before, while others had built with coils and slabs before, and wanted to learn on the wheel, while others yet already had previous knowledge of throwing on the wheel, and wanted to get better acquainted with throwing.

I did a throwing demonstration for the students to watch, so that they had some context for their learning and to what I would be referring when I spoke about certain gestures or stages in the process. Later, I added a handle to the mug body.

All the kids bar one speak excellent English; I spoke German with that student.

I helped Christian to get the technique for making a coiled bowl; Lola was happy to work from a book illustrating how to sculpt a head in clay.

In the evening, I taught Christian on the wheel only in German! It was quite a lot of work in my mind, teaching and translating at the same time, but he was a model student: incredibly attentive and careful!

A couple of photos of the Pottery Room (below).




Technical: coloured porcelain grog

Porcelain was put onto a plaster bat in a very thin layer; it was scraped off; it was fired to c. 600 degrees; it was crushed; the resulting parts were divided into two groups and these were put in a bath of synthetic iron oxide and cobalt carbonate respectively.



The excess water was left to evaporate on its own. The coloured parts will be high-fired and then hopefully integrated into a white porcelain body.

rolling with the times

porcelain relief tile

I like the carved patterns I made on the solid plaster bowl (bottom left in the picture above), and that I can use the item to make a relief pattern onto porcelain; but it doesn’t do it quite in a straight line, and I thought I liked that about it – however, it is time to switch to a cylindrical model (I’m thinking quite a fat cylinder, so there is more room for carving).

porcelain relief tile
more fragments of work with slip trailing and relief printing.

Pictured above: works by Dawei Yang from the BCB, photographed by me.
Below: 3D-printed ceramic works by Björn Bernt, also at the BCB, also my image

I was surprised how my attraction to the ‘tactile wallpaper’ concept shone through in the things which had interested me at the BCB!

I initially thought that carving a tile-shaped mould and then casting the tiles would be the most straightforward way of creating tiles with relief patterns, but it requires making multiple separate identical moulds for some kind of scale of productivity, as the porcelain takes a very long time to dry.

Wednesday Life Drawing

I had a very productive drawing session today!  Using my favourite media – alcohol markers, ink pens, and watercolour paints – the hours went by in a heartbeat.
Life Drawing
Above: I think the gestural qualities of the right-most figure are worth keeping in mind for future work on ceramics.

Life Drawing
I feel like this pose has a dynamic colour combination (contrasting colours orange and purple) which makes the figure ‘pop’ visually.

Life Drawing For this image, the vague watercolour yellow for the flesh of the model is a stark contrast from the thin and deliberate lines.

Life Drawing
Finally, this last picture combines what I think are the three most successful elements from the previous four images: it keeps the gestural flow of body-movement, but this time with watercolour rather than marker, so the body itself has more depth; over this, there is sharp penwork, which defines the otherwise potentially amorphous figure.  I am greatly satisfied with this piece of illustration.

The rest of the drawings I made today, and the drawings that I will produce in following sessions can, as always, be found in the dedicated Flickr album.