Friday, July 11, 2008

Back in the Studio

This week is my first back in the studio. Things are serious as this semester is my absolute last chance to complete the masters. Despite the pressure I'm trying to enjoy myself, and I am looking forward to some dedicated time making.

I'm also trying to keep a bit of balance - I have set aside 1 day each week to spend with my husband, as well as a weekly visit to my mother plus 1 other social "contact" each week. I am aiming for 3 solid days of working, (of course, when I say day, I mean "CFS day" which is highly variable, but for me is a maximum of 4 hours work, starting somewhere between 11am and 2pm) and the remaining day is for whatever seems most pressing that week - it might be physical rest, it might be housework or cooking, or maybe more time in the studio.

I am hoping that the time with my husband and friends will de-stress me enough to allow me to keep this up. I guess I will know how I am going in a few weeks. I know 3 days working doesn't look that much, but I know my limits, and I know that the pressure can get to me pretty quickly. I start to feel exhausted and then the migraines start. Will it be enough? I honestly don't know, but I know I'll have to be disciplined and intelligent in my approach, as well as having a good dose of luck!

Anyway, I was pretty happy with the progress I made this week. I tidied up the clay pages you saw here, and loaded the kiln for the bisque firing. For those who aren't familiar with firing, the bisque is the first firing, to around 1000deg C. You take the temperature up slowly (about 90deg C per hour) until you have passed the critical point of 573 deg, where crystal inversion occurs. After that you can take the temperature up more quickly. Once the firing has reached temperature, you turn the kiln off and go away. You have to let it cool naturally until it reaches a temperature where you can handle the pieces in your bare hands. Any over enthusiasm in opening the kiln before it has cooled, may result in your precious pieces cracking at this stage.

Well, I was patient. I was very patient. But still the firing has not been completely successful. Quite a lot of the pages have cracked, and I'm not sure why. Fortunately I made nearly 3 times as many as I need, but even so I'm not sure that I have enough that I am happy to use. I had heard that Imperial Porcelain is inclined to crack, but I presumed this was in the forming. As I had few problems at that stage, I thought I was in the clear, but perhaps it is a problem in firing.
If there is anyone reading who has any suggestions, I would be pleased to hear from you!

For now I'm off to bed, and tomorrow I'll take another look at the slabs and see if there are enough....I only need 8, so keep your fingers crossed for me.....

In the meantime, here are a couple of my photos from the trip. The first one was taken in the garden at Borthwnog Hall and the second is at Avesbury Circle in England. The yellow is a field of rapeseed behind the girl.


  1. You're very organised. I hope it goes well and you manage to achieve all you need to whilst managing the old health difficulties.

    I love the photos; particularly the one of Avebury --- one of my favourite places. I remember spending two days there drawing and making prints (collographs)when I was at Art School. Afraid I don't like the rape seed-- ghastly stuff: smelly and a very harsh yellow. We're surrounded by it here and now the blossom's gone and its raining, the smell is like rotting cabbage -- ugh !

  2. It must feel good to be back in the studio all rested and refreshed after your holiday.
    I wish you all the luck with completing your masters, not that you'll need it mind you, I'm sure that if you just take it easy that you will be just fine. What an achievement that will be, certainly something to be very proud of.

  3. So good to hear you're back in the studio and getting back to your studies. Do take care, I hope your migraines can be kept at bay, I'm hoping for the same thing for myself. After a long silence I've finally managed to do a blog post and hope I'm back on track. All the best with your studies, Carol

  4. Hi Amanda, I've just checked in on my blog and saw your comment about CFS and sore eyes, thanks for responding, I wasn't sure if it was related or not since I never had trouble last time. I'll definitely take your advice and try to get someone with CFS awareness and experience.

    My eyes are too sore to actually read your blog just now, but I had a quick look at the pictures and that book you showed a few posts down looks really gorgeous, so simple, the kind of thing I really love, what a beauty to have.

  5. Oh Amanda, I'm wishing you the very very best of luck with the Masters- time is so hard to manage when life intervenes. I'd love to come to your final exhibition.

  6. Hi Shannon, thanks for dropping by and thanks especially for your kind wishes. My final show will be in Melbourne at RMIT, but I plan to show at least some of the work in Brisbane next year. Hope you can come.