Just a quick post as this photograph has been so popular on a Facebook Group I belong to: Beachcombing (British Coastline). I am always looking for interesting finds as I walk along the shore and a couple of frosty morning ago, I spotted this shell and saw a lovely landscape. One of the great things about becoming an artist (whether a photographer, a textile artist, a painter, a ceramicist … it does not matter what) is that you gain “an eye” – you see so much more in everyday items. These days where Mindfulness is big news, I think that simply taking in what is around you is a good way into “being in the moment.”
In anticipation of spending four days with Elaine Bolt at West Dean College, I decided it would be prudent to learn a little about the subject first. So I contacted Elaine and arrange to spend a day with Elaine Bolt at her studio in Brighton.
I had a wonderful time! Elaine was a lovely lady and a great teacher who allowed me to run with the ideas that I had. I wanted to use some of my found materials and incorporate them with ceramic. First of all, I had the idea of using a piece of boot leather that I had found at Eastbourne. I like the way it was twisted, I liked the holes and I liked the patina of the sea-salted leather. I decided to form a vase and wrap the leather around it. I chose porcelain here so that the white would contrast with the dark tones of the leather. Here it is ready to be fired with the leather alongside:
Another idea was to display a series of chip forks that I had found. Oddly, these were found all bound together in a ridged plastic sleeve. The fact that they had been squashed together meant that the action of the sea had made marks on the wood where the ridges had been. I made a plaque from stoneware and covered it with slip to darken it. Here it is with the forks (and an additional found piece) being auditioned to check the placement of the fixing holes. Once fired, the pieces can be added to the plaque with wire.
Finally, I had a lovely piece of rubber shoe sole! It’s lovely to me anyway!! I wanted to try and replicate the colour, pattern and texture of this piece in different ways – firstly with ceramic. This time I used a mixture of porcelain and stoneware to get the light and dark. Here is the original and the clay piece – the second is larger at this stage to allow for shrinkage in firing:
These are all interesting experiments. Elaine warned me that you can never be sure of the outcome and for a first timer, I guess I am particularly at risk but I look forward to being reunited with the fired pieces next week! Armed with a very small bit of knowledge (I realise that there is a huge amount to learn if I am to pursue this new area of interest) I can now plan what I would like to achieve during my next course. I think this idea has legs! Thank you Elaine!
One day last year I found an intriguing piece of rubber on the beach at Seatown, Dorset. I can’t be sure what it started out as but it had obviously been patched numerous times and the sea had distressed the surface beautifully.
My initial thought was to keep it intact as I loved it so much, but, on reflection I felt that there was so much going, it would be better to view it in bite sized chunks. So I tore it into five pieces. This was a brave decision because, unlike with art that you have made, you will never be able to replicate a found object – once you’ve alterered it, it stays altered!
Next, I considered how I could add to the surface without distracting from the wonderful texture that the sea had created. I chose some found pieces of paper and a little more rubber from another find and added them with stitch. The original piece of found rubber was quite contorted and I considered laying the pieces under a heavy weight to flatten them before mounting – I have rejected that option because I think the twists and turns add interest to the piece but I will see what my framer has to say about it!
It is always a case of being careful to add just the right amount of stitch – too little or too much makes a deal of difference. The aspect is also important and I will play with some variations in due course.
Here they are before I visit him:
Once they are framed, I will update you with how they look!
Well I think so anyway! I fully appreciate that these pieces will appeal to a minority audience but I have enjoyed using my found pieces in a way that pleases me. Here are two of the three final objects in their original state – an anorak cuff and a rolled up piece of rubber, original purpose unknown:
Found rubber “Vessel”
I knew that I could see potential in both of these items – lots of lovely texture – but knew also that they needed more. I decided to construct a third piece using some found black plastic, made interesting by the sea. I then played about with different additions until I found what I wanted, and added stitch.
Vessel in progress
I wanted to make each piece interesting on the outside and the inside and felt that they worked best as a trio. I plan to sit them on a piece of found wood (yet to be retrieved from my stash in a nearby garage!) and hope to source something like a vintage taxidermist glass dome to go over the top. Here are the three pieces now:
Vesssel made from found objects and stitch
These images do not show what is going inside the three vessels – you’ll just have to come along and see them during the Chichester Art Trail to see the full effect – Chichester Art Trail 2018