All my pieces are stoneware, which is high-fired and hard wearing for everyday use and suitable for dishwashers. I use no toxic materials in my glazes, so they are safe for use with food. I wheel throw the majority of my pieces, slab build and also sculpt animals by hand.
To fire I use a four-burner gas kiln up to 1,300 degrees Celsius. That’s cone 10 down. At around 900c (cone 010) the air intake into the kiln is dramatically reduced which causes an alchemic-type change in the glazes.
Chun glaze starts black and becomes bright blue as a result of millions of air bubbles in the glaze. Copper red glaze starts off bright white then goes shiny blood red – if you get the temperature right! Shino glaze starts off whitish then goes rusty, brown, golden or even white, depending how thickly it is applied and the temperature it’s fired at.
During this ‘reduction’ process, as it’s called, the fire removes oxygen from wherever it can get it. For example, the oxygen is stripped away from iron oxide in the clay and the remaining iron can drip with the melting glaze.
My favourite clays are Newnes Raku T, #33 with lots of iron, #9 which is great with some glazes, porcelain and Lumina, the brilliant white clay that can go translucent in a hot firing.
I use a wax resist technique to draw trees, plants and animals using a fine brush and adding colour and wax on that. The glaze doesn’t adhere to the wax and creates a picture.
I also love using the Mishima process – carving trees and other designs and filling them with porcelain slip. When the slip is almost dry, I scrape off the surplus, revealing the design beneath.
Sgraffito is another favourite technique. I apply a porcelain slip and when it’s almost dry, I scratch and carve into it and then apply a clear glaze over the top.
Of course, there’s endless experimentation with shapes and forms, as well as happy accidents, which takes my work in new directions.