The assemblage spent 3 days in the river, as I was photographing it it fell apart, back into it’s separate parts. I decided to glaze the separate parts and assemble after the firing.

The drystane dykes are expressions of the genius loci – built using traditional knowledge and materials and are shaped by the weather, people, geology and culture. The focus of this investigation, as discussed in the research methodology essay, is:

How can I translate this type of physical expression of ‘genius loci’ into ceramics?

To recap where the idea of the assemblage came from: it is a series of boxes that are an interpretation of a wall/structure/enclosure, of different sizes and functions, self supporting, gaps for wild life, stacked. There are different key elements built into drystane dykes – key, cap, tie stones. They explore – strength, balance, shelter, layering, protection. The dykes are an expression of shelter and  boundary. The walls have a poetry in their construction, how they are ordered by size, balanced often held as a whole structure without mortar, layered, strong, built with traditional methods, organisation.

The appearance of the dykes are due in part to the external weathering and patina. In order to explore this, I began by putting the lightly bisqued (740 degrees to aid erosion by leaving the clay softer) clay in the river to erode. (I think it would have helped if I’d applied some wax relief before putting in the river, and also time scale – if I can leave something over a few months perhaps, but it was a start to find a location – in the river that I had taken the samples from, and some of them are bisqued into the clay, and to find out that the separate pieces may fall apart.)

To continue exploring the expression of patina* in ceramic form, I firstly decided to use a heavily grogged clay, that will be structurally strong and will have a natural texture that can be further explored when glazed. I incorporated slate dust into one face of the slab built box with the corner cut out, which I left unglazed. On the other faces I experimented with layering two different stoneware glazes over each other and I added two layers of wax resist, one before glazing and one between the glaze colours.

I put the assemblage into a 1200 degree firing today, some parts of it I’ve left unglazed to see the black clay when it is high fired.

I’ll get them out of the kiln Tuesday or Wednesday in time to take to Bath at the weekend.


* Robert macfarlane word of the day Twitter account February

Word of the day: “patina” – upper layer or layers of a surface that has been worn or weathered to a complex texture by use, burial or exposure over time; an aura or sheen acquired by paint, metal, stone or skin, speaking of age & wear.


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