Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sketch-book Page, 29th August 2012

Sketch-book Page, 29th August 2012

Having barely slept a wink last night I didn't feel fit enough mentally for any sort of 'proper' work. So to-day I have spent the day rather mindlessly washing clothes, blogging, eating ginger cake and sketching.

To-day I am mostly pre-occupied by the patterns in things and in Nature, it seems. Wondrous Mother Nature!! When we move to the coast next month I plan to spend long days studying the geometry and form of plants and wildlife...

Odd to say but to-day I feel I have become better at drawing. Perhaps that's what kept me awoke last night - creative growing pains?

Museum Journal - Part 26 (Alt)

Museum Journal - Part 26 (Alt)

Part 26 of the Director of the National Museum of Britsh History's Diary, for regular client Museum Journal (MJ), August 2012 issue. The Editor wanted an alternative story to the one I'd been given previously.

This month our man meets a colleague at the Olympics Opening Ceremony VIP Party who'd had to undergo an initiation ritual with education minister Michael Gove, which included dressing in school uniform and saying his prayers beside his bed...

As always with MJ the final print size is minute (3 or 4 cm across tops) so its crucial to keep the design very simple and the detail to a minimum.

Transfer Trials: Digital Ceramic

Transfer Trials: Digital Ceramic

After umpteen experiments into producing Delft tiles I have, for now, decided that the most genuine and charming technique is to paint directly onto tiles using cobalt on-glaze and firing them. It has some issues I need to iron out if I can. But for Delftware, transfer decals just don't seem right somehow. That said, transfers continue to wield quite an appeal for me (just not for Delft).

Previous experiments with decals seemed to indicate that a lot depended upon the chemistry, the reaction of firing the transfers onto particular glazed tile surfaces.

So I gathered together 6 different types of tile, sent them to transfer decal manufacturers Digital Ceramic in Stoke-on-Trent and asked them to fire the one particular design onto them to conpare how they each behaved. Here are the results...

All the tiles together; quite a mixed bag!

All together

Delft tile, Authentic (below). The tile I use for painting Delft. But here the transfer has come out quite dark and dull. UNSURE/ REJECTED!


Delft tile, Antique (below). Quite a nice tile this, and a good vibrant colour. Bizarrely, firing the decal has melted the tile surface's crackles away. ACCEPTABLE!


Delft tile, Ivory (below). Also quite a successful result. Transfer a little dull but not much, and the tile's crazed surface remains. ACCEPTABLE!


Fired Earth, Architecture (below). A larger tile I was considering using for a project I am involved in with Tinsmiths gallery in Ledbury (more of that later).  A good bright colour, a good clear surface. ACCEPTABLE!


Fired Earth, English Delft (below). A rustic and chunky tile, quite thick and irregular. This has fired very well. One of the two or three tiles I am considering using for a tile suite I will create for the Artists of Spitalfields Life exhibition at Ben Pentreath's in November. One of my favourites. ACCEPTABLE!


Fired Earth, Soho Garden (below). A lovely solid crackled tile, one I'd pinned a lot of hopes on. But the decal firing was, as you can see, an unmitigated disaster - blurred, dull and uneven. Very firmly REJECTED (alas, alack)!


Which do you prefer?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nailed it (well almost)!

Nailed it (well almost)!

Dog & Bone (Spider's head corners)

 Here's the results of my most recent tile trials. And I think I've pretty much nailed it!

Drawn with blue cobalt oxide on-glaze paste, mixed with a gum arabic/ water solution, using a dip pen (after I'd abandoned using a fine brush - too unwieldy). The thinking behind this was to create a better flow and also a little adhesion to the glazed tile surface.

Fired for me, very generously, by the wonderful Rob Ryan and his team.

There has been a little bubbling of the marks in places, seemingly where I'd over-worked the washes that I applied (a day) after the outlines. But I don't think it detracts from the overall look at all (if anything it has a certain charm). Lighter, more deftly applied washes should avoid that occurring so much in future...

All said, I'm pretty chuffed. Feel that I'm now in a position to proceed with securing a few hearth-back commissions. The Bommer Delft tile workshop is now (nearly) open for business!

Here they are before firing...

 and after a night in the kiln at around 800º C...

I've nibbed the edges a little in places and rubbed ashes into the surface crackled to further antique them.

Amor Vincit Omnia (Love Conquers All) with fleur-de-lys corners

Sanglier, with stylised fleur-de-lys corners

Elephant (Martin Lane), stylised fleur-de-lys corners

Fruit Bowl, with fleur-de-lys corners

Magpie (One for Sorrow), spider's head corners

Fluvius Tamesis, ox-head corners

Triton or merman, ox-head corners

Vase of Flowers, spider's head corners

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Porca Miseria!

Porca Miseria!

I really need to get off my arse and lose some weight - all this comfort eating is making me, well, uncomfortable...

Self-portrait as a Roast Suckling Pig.

Death & Cabbages (screenprint)

Death & Cabbages (screenprint)

 Recently-created screen print, three colours, 29.7 cm by 42 cm (A3), a small Limited Edition of 30, signed and numbered by the Artist.

Inspired by a quote from the 16th Century french philosopher Michel de Montaigne 'Je veux que la mort me trouve plantant mes choux' - I hope that Death finds me planting my cabbages!

Montaigne also famously once questioned whether he was playing with his cat, or whether his cat was playing with him. So I have included Montaigne's moggy at Death's feet. 

Available to buy from my Etsy shop, a steal at £55

The Seventh Seal (screen print)

The Seventh Seal (screen print)

Recently-created screen print, black and white, 29.7 cm by 42 cm (A3), Limited Edition of 45, signed and numbered by the Artist.

Inspired by Ingmar Bergman's 1957 classic film, The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde Inseglet, in Swedish), where Death (Bengt Ekerot) and a weary knight, Antonius Block (Max Von Sydow), play a fatal game of chess...

Block asks 'You play chess, do you not?'. The Grim Reaper responds 'You have heard that?'

Available to buy from my Etsy shop at the criminally low price of £55.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tile Trials: Some progress is made...

Tile Trials: Some progress is made...

Some progress is made...

Whilst continuing to investigate transfer decals as one option for creating my delft ceramic tiles, I have also been looking into using on-glaze colours and cobalt oxide powder in solution. My heart wasn't really in it, but I thought to try it and eliminate it as a possibility.

Here are all the tiles I trialled before firing. The pale blue ones were created using a premixed cobalt blue on-glaze solution, the black ones using cobalt oxide powder in a medium of water and gum arabic for adhesion. I'd hoped that the on-glaze would darken, and that the oxide would fire a lovely bright blue. I wasn't holding out much hope for the on-glaze, which were pinned entirely on the oxide.


 The words on the tiles indicate the three different models of crackle-glaze dutch Delft tiles: - 'Authentic', 'Antique' & 'Ivory'.

Artist, friend and all-round good egg Rob Ryan offered me the use of his kiln in Bethnal Green to fire the tiles to around 800º C.

And here are the results!

After Firing

Quite a surprise. The oxide powder images had remained a dark almost black and had barely fused with the crackle. A disaster. A shame too as I'd found it easier to draw with than the on-glaze.

And the on-glaze images, which I had thought so little of, turned out to be the ones that worked. The colour had darkened nicely and fused perfectly and permanantly into the tile glaze. Result. Quite a difficuly medium to use, but one I could get much better at. The addition of gum arabic to the on-glaze might make it adhere better and next time I shall wait a day before applying the 'wash'...

This is my favourite, the 'authentic' tile. With all these the painting is quite crude but its fired to a good colour with a fantastic and pronounced crackle-glaze surface. I've aged this one further a touch by nipping a few chips off the edges and rubbing with ash.

On-glaze Authentic

The 'ivory' tile was my second favourite of the three. A good dark rich blue but not enough crazing in the glaze for my needs...

On-glaze Ivory

Finally the 'antique' tile, my least favourite. The colour for me is too bright and the crackles in the tile affected the way the wash went on...

On-glaze Antique

All in all its looking quite hopeful...

Notebook Sketches - Delftware Designs

Notebook Sketches - Delftware Designs

A couple of pages of scamps from my ongoing tile trial in my current notebook, number 144!

Divers delfft tyle dessignes

Friday, August 10, 2012

Guildhall Art Gallery - Panel Headers

Guildhall Art Gallery - Panel Headers

As well as creating the Poster and Promotional Postcard for the current exhibition at the Guildhall - Butcher, Baker, Candlestick: 850 Years of London Livery Company Treasures - I was also asked to design eight panel header illustrations for the sections within.









Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Further Dozen Delft from Umbra Sumus

Another twelve of the faux Delftware tiles I created for my Umbra Sumus solo show in April...
Bone-Hill (Bunhill) Fields

Raven & Skull of the Giant Bran at Tower Hill

Three matches, three wishes

Mr Pussy, cat of the Gentle Author

The Fox, Lombard Street

The Crown & Leek, Deal Street

Humphries, bare-knuckle boxer

Daniel Mendoza, champion boxer

Sub Rosa, a secret

The Half Moon (old sign-board)

Mitre, Bishops-gate

Oranges & Cherries/ Jeanette Winterson