Raku Ceramic Piece by Rose Ellis
Bird on Wave
I have played and worked with clay since I was a young child and love the tactile squidginess of the material. I was fortunate to attend a school where engaging in various forms of artistic expression was central to our education. My recurring themes of animals, the natural world and occasional human figures are stylised and tend towards abstraction. My influences may come from ancient sculptures and a variety of cultures, from other artists or be mysterious in origin.
I fire the work to stoneware or using the Raku technique. Raku firing has to be done outside as it involves removing the pieces from the kiln when they are red hot - about 1000 degrees C - and then placing them in a bin with some combustible material - I use sawdust. This causes the glaze to craze, and the burning in the sawdust blackens the unglazed and crazed areas. This results in a stone- like pitted and crazed surface which I feel suits the work. It is an unpredictable and alchemical process which can surprise and delight.
My stoneware work has recently been influenced by the work of Laurel Keeley, from whom I learned about using layers of slip to produce crazing, with oxides giving a rich, ancient - looking surface.
I find there is some control in the making process and surrender to chance in the firing. This keeps my interest alive and challenges me to learn from failure and to rejoice in success.