“Pots” – a first trial

I mentioned in the last post that I found an interview with Edmund de Waal very inspiring, and I have been working a little more on that what I had in mind then.
If you don’t know his work, have a look at his website. You’ll find some slideshows with beautiful pictures there. I wish I could go and see some of his work in person. Apparently “another hour” is for display in London in Southwalk Cathedral at the moment, and he will give a talk on Sunday. – But I don’t think I will be able to make it, having to complete a commission and all. I am tempted, though,…

In the meantime I found a bit of time to make a first trial of what I had in mind after seeing the video. It is not quite what I am after, but I am rather satisfied, and might continue working toward something here. (Not sure I want to abandon my other two projects yet again, though.) Well, here are some pictures:

Sketchbook Vases
first sketches

The general idea was to have the same shape in white gesso on a darker paper and add pencil or ink drawing of a pot or bottle that fills this shape. Each one would be very similar and yet different. Maybe, I thought, I’d smear the ouline or the gesso for some of them. On that sketchbook page, as well as on some that followed, I was searching for the basic form I wanted to use.

It turned out I liked several of the forms, but foremost the simple straight vase and the bottle with the long neck.


So the next step was to cut stencils of these shapes. I used a clear plastic sheet for the stencil. I kept loosing the clear stencils on my table. So I marked the outlines and the cutout with (supposedly) permanent marker. I like the look of marking this negativ space so much, that I immediately started on another small book for which I want to use the cut-outs as block-outs, but that is a different story and will be told at another time.

As indicated above, the blue colour was not permantent and came off when I brushed gesso over it. At first I was alarmed, but it turns out I rather like the result of the ever darker blue pots.

As planned I then sketched pots over the gesso’d shapes. I used a pencil but that was another accident because I just couldn’t find my pastels and coal. Well here’s a shot at the finished booklet:

finished first prop
finished: “pots” by H. Kurzke

So, where will this go? I don’t know yet. Maybe I will improve the design here and there and make a small edition from this. Maybe I am done with it here and now.

By the way, there is another book project for which I started to upload images with small captions on ipernity. Click here to see the first one. – Enjoy!

8 replies on ““Pots” – a first trial”

  1. I love what you’re doing here Hilke. It looks gorgeous! I am familiar with Edmund de Waal from my ceramics days and I love drawings of pots. Not surprised to hear that you too have been aeduced! 🙂

    1. Hi Amanda,

      I am happy that you like the little book and first trial. I have not forgotten your porcellain flag book. It was one of the first I saw from you and you were writing about its making when I first started to follow your blog. The colour and texture of porcelain is just so… (in lack of a less generic word) beautiful. I didn’t know that you worked more in ceramics than for this book, but found some results when looking in your blog archives just now.
      What do you think: Have you given it up completely? I assume getting access to a kiln could be hard from home?

  2. I actually have a small electric kiln installed in my garage, but the last time I fired it was for that porcelain flag book 🙁 The problem for me is that because the clay needs to be wet to work with it, you have to keep on working until the piece is finished. I need to be able to stop if I am tiring, and by the time I can come back, the clay is often too dry to work. Paperclay (paper mixed into clay) is much more forgiving but you can’t get the same translucency that you do with porcelain. Still, I haven’t sold my kiln yet…. although lately I have been wondering whether I really should let it go.
    You might be interested in this collection of sets of some of my ceramic work on flickr:

    1. Oh, I wouldn’t have thought that this is a problem. I don’t have any experience withreal porcellain. In the pottery workshop in Bonn, where I took a couple of lessons with just simple grey clay that can be fired at lower temperatures. We were a group of five or six women, each working on our own project with the master potter being around, helping each one. We were doing very different stuff. I was as a beginner just learning to build simple cups from coils of clay, someone else was learning to use the wheel, and yet another one was making intricate scultptures. Whe had already started with her two foxes who were sleeping intertwined when I entered the group and was still working on it when I left. I think she said it takes her several months to complete such a sculpture, since she modelled more or less every hair. Having such a scultpure at home wouldn’t be my taste of decoration, but I can’t but admire the artistry of her making. We only met for a couple of hours in the evening once a week. After that, she carefully wrapped her half-finished scultpure in layers of moist fabric, and would then keep on working the next week.
      I guess the workshop we were in was well suited for something like that, it was almost a little moist and cool in there, even in summer. And I guess that sort of clay is easier to handle than real porcellain. But I guess it also depends on what you want to do?
      Would be a shame of you had to give it up completely, though. I looked through your photos, and now that I saw them, I remember seeing them before. Some really interesting pieces in there.

      I read that for the books you made you used “decals” that are fired with the clay. Have you ever added imagery in a different way? I have been thinking of drawing with oil pastels on brique clay. Do you think that would work?

      1. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “brique” clay Hilke. Is it red coloured clay, like bricks or do you mean “bisque” (low fired)? If you aren’t going to be firing it afterwards, you can use many different finishes on clay. Oil pastels would be fine, or acrylic paint, shoe polish, and lots of other things. For some pieces made of white clay I even used graphite and clear lacquer. If it is to be fired afterwards, then you have to use something particularly designed for ceramics or it will just burn off. I hope this is helpful. If there is anything else you’d like to ask, please do!

        1. I meant brisque I guess? In the workshop I mentioned, IF I remember correctly, the pots were fired twice, and the glace only came on in a second go. And I thought of drawing on the clay without a glaze, but made durable. I thought that would be in that in between state, and I thought it would be called brisque. But I know next to nothing about ceramics…
          And I don’t actually want to learn a whole lot. I am not good with ceramics as I learnedding my time in that group there. I just have this idea about this one or two things I really would like to make. Maybe I should look for a co-operation rather than learning myself. …mhm, mhm, mhm maybe I already know a person… just thinking alout here.

          Thanks for answering so quickly. I might come back at a later time with more questions, but for now I have to organize myself and think about what I want.

  3. Just to clarify – once fired, in preparation for the glaze is bisque (no “r”). You are remembering the process correctly, and like I said, you can put almost anything on bisque-ware. So if you know someone who could make the pots for you and bisque fire them, then you could do the surface drawings yourself. Good luck and have fun!

    PS where do you buy your leather?

    1. Thank you very much for correcting my faulty vocabulary. I have no idea why, but I was so sure about the ‘r’ that I didn’t even notice it was missing from your word 🙂 Good to hear that you think what I had in mind would work.

      I bought my leather from “Lederversand Berlin”. They have a brick and mortar store in Berlin and an online shop on ebay.de. I guess it is not what design binders would want to buy but I was always very satisfied with the skins and their service. I don’t know yet where I want to order now. I even considered to keep on buying from them. Royal Mail is so expensive, that shipping from Germany is not really more expensive than national mail with Royal Mail. But I doubt that this would be an option for you. Sorry that I forgot to mention it in my first reply.

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