I felt gleeful upon being given our 3rd project brief, which was simply to expand upon one of the themes or ideas that we had already explored briefly in our last 2 projects. We had a longer time to work on our ideas and a springboard to jump from with all our initial experimentation and skill honing. The bells were calling me once again. This time I knew I wanted to use low fire clay, work on a larger scale and create a larger quantity. Slip casting was the obvious choice of process. Something I had declared ‘made me feel dead inside’, ha.
So I started the process with the intention to be slow, conscious and aware of my feelings as I went along, I didn’t want to be creating whilst stressed or anxious. I wanted to enjoy each moment and put love into each action. I decided to carve the master bell on the lathe, an enjoyable, soothing process which I had first tried at Falmouth. Here the lathe was kind of tucked away and it seemed like use wasn’t encouraged. With a little probing and pushing of the technician we managed to get it up and running with a wider plaster cylinder to start carving from. I decided on a simple elongated bell form, reminiscent of ancient Japanese bells. After the main form was carved all it needed was a few passes of different grades of sandpaper to get a really smooth finish. Very pleasing indeed.
Within casting it is the mould making that I find challenging to my artistic sensibilities. A set of processes where attention to detail is required for successful progress and where upmost patience is required between and during each step. The hand of the artist is overruled by zealous plaster that will destroy carefully prepared mould frames given half a chance, something I have experienced on more then one occasion.
Sometimes trying to save material doesn’t pay off and for me, the devastating blowout occurs when cutting corners with the clay used for sealing all possible weak spots. The second half of the mould suffered such a fate. Half way through the pour, the bottom burst open and plaster emptied onto the floor. I stemmed the flow with handfuls of dry plaster and after a few moments of dismayed, incredulous staring I quickly whipped up a 2nd batch of plaster and poured it over the semi-set first dregs which luckily had covered the plaster bell master with a little bit of hasty spreading. I left it over night feeling pretty nonplussed and non attached and upon releasing the cottling boards all seemed well! Hurrah!