My name’s Joanne Ayre. I’m a Ceramicist and we’re here in the Tinkerspace in the Power of Making exhibition at the V&A. Today we’ve got a few different experiences for the visitors, one of them being a demonstration of casting which is a way of making ceramics from liquid clay. A casting slip is clay mixed with water with chemicals added called the deflocculant which helps keep the clay in suspension – it helps it to form a skin which makes the pot.
I’m just letting the excess clay run out and then that leaves a hollow form and leave it to drain. This one should be ready to come out. And when these are dry you clean them all up with a knife and a wet sponge and that’s called fettling and sponging.
I came here actually with one of my friends who thought that the exhibition would be quite a good way of catching-up and it was really nice to come and see there was something to sit down and use your hands and play with. We are both creative people. I do textile design and she’s a graphic designer so it’s quite nice to get your hands dirty. It’s like a little bonding exercise for the both of us. I love anything that’s hands-on and hand-made. It’s really nice to come in and have a little catch-up. The clay that we use is actually dug up from gardens and there’s no specific name for it so it’s quite nice. It’s my cup of tea - it’s something that’s raw and you get what you see.
We are all studying medical education and we all came here today as a field trip because we are, for the moment, looking at how we can use art to teach medicine. So what we’ve done is we’ve participated in the workshop. And I’ve got quite an interest in organic things and it being autumn at the moment and noticing all the different leaves and I made a little tray in a leaf shape and a flower to go with that.
I made a bench and it started looking like a very simple bench but then I worked it out into a very complicated bench that was used to, hopefully, be very comfortable to allow medical students to sit and enjoy tutorials and lectures.
Initially it was quite useful because we had a feel of all the types of clay to see what the qualities of the different things were and then we had a go with different types and I think you really wanted to have a go at the porcelain one because that’s more delicate.
I made a snowman and a I’ve made a hat for him to wear. And then I put some buttons on his tummy so he could keep warm. When I first touched the clay it wasn’t that cold actually. It was quite nice and cool.
GALLERY TALK: Find out more about some treasured pieces of imperial ceramics on display in the Tsui Gallery and why emperors in the eighteenth century were keen to collect wares made in an antique style.
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