Friday, March 18, 2011

Sanding joy

Slightly sarcastic title as this is far from my favourite part of my creative process. 

Charcoal bottles before firing

The majority of the work I make has a matt surface. I use ceramic underglazes and stains, mixed with a small amount of glaze, to coat the exterior of forms to create different coloured, matt surfaces. Adding varying amounts of a basic clear glaze to each colour works like a flux . The amount of glaze I add depends on how matt, satin or shiny I want the finished surface, how high it is fired and lots and lots of testing.  

Sky blue bottles before firing

What all this means is that the surface of the clay, when it comes out of the glaze firing, is still slightly rough and requires a once-over with sandpaper to ensure a smooth surface to touch.

Enter sanding day - sigh. 

Fired charcoal surface being sanded

I try to approach the task with the Zen-like wisdom of Beppo Roadsweeper, a character from one of my favourite children's books - Micheal Ende's Momo

" You must never think of the whole street at once, understand? You must only concentrate on the next step, the next breath, the next stroke of the broom, and the next, and the next. Nothing else... That way you enjoy your work, which is important, because then you make a good job of it. And that's how it ought to be." (p.32)

Each breath I take is unfortunately somewhat Darth Vader-ish as it travels through my mask and a broom doesn't enter the equation with all those powders floating about but... I do try.


Mel Robson said...

ah, I hear you Sophie! A lot of sanding goes (used to go) on in my studio too. It can be quite meditative sometimes, but boring as hell at others! I use wet and dry slows things down a little while I wait for the pots to dry after before glazing them etc, but no dust and no darth vader breathing!

Chris C. said...

What about wet sanding?

Sophie Milne said...

Every now and then I try wet and dry sandpaper but for some reason am not so fond of it - seem to remember an annoying black residue and impatience waiting for things to dry.

Probably I have not tried the right product or technique but also, have to admit, there's an element of better the devil you know - the devil, in this case, being sandpaper bought from the $2 shop on the way to work!