i Can teach Anybody Can Be A Ceramic Artist-

how to produce ceramics from day 1

Background

During the eighties I worked for the Canadian Training Awards Project (CTAP) as a ceramic consultant; traveling around the Eastern Caribbean researching clay deposits, sourcing ceramic supplies and training students in ceramic production.
The training was designed to start earning from day one; most of the students were women of all ages and from different backgrounds; but I always insisted on including a selection of school children in the classes.

The first stage of training on the wheel was designed towards earning also; but in this post I will use the Slab Roller only.

 

Commercial Production

SPACE-a small workshop; 150 to 300 square feet is adequate or a small basement.

Equipment

1 Slab roller; my preference is a Brent, the size depends on how much production you are contemplating.

1 Small Test Kiln-Electric for easy management, or natural gas if it is available; allows more creative and exciting finished pieces; but requires more ceramic knowledge and experience.

1 production Kiln; start with a 2 to 4 cubic feet.

Make sure your kiln comes with a set of kiln furniture

Orton Cones

Earthenware– cones 04 and 05 cones,

Stone ware -04 for bisque firing and cones 5 or 6 depending on your clay supply.

Clay- My preference for beginners is white cone 04; especially if you live in a third world country where the cost of electricity is high.

Kilns & Firing temperatures.

Electric-If you live in an area where the cost of electricity is not so high, and you wish to offer finished pieces at stoneware temperature; you can find low stoneware Clay at cone 5 or 6; but you will need 04 also for bisque firings.

Gas-If you have access to natural gas and is prepared to learn as much as possible about using a gas kiln before commencing production.

Local clay supply-If you can dig your own clay, that is fine, but learn how to eliminate the impurities; frankly unless it is a great source and fairly clean, and is willing to spend the time in preparation; it might be more convenient to purchase a commercial supply.

GLAZES

Start with a small collection of glazes and stains.

Stains-black, brown, green, blue and yellow-06 to 04

Glazes-05 Ready mixed -transparent; opaque white, blue, leaf green, mid brown, turquoise and yellow.

1 Set of brushes and small plastic bottles for pouring from your ceramic supplier.

2 to 4 small sponges

I plastic bin for scrap clay

This training is geared towards creating a brand of commercial production that can be marketed from day one if you follow instructions carefully.

BOOKS AND EQUIPMENT

There are several ceramic suppliers in Europe, Canada and the USA; of course England is known for its ceramics; in the early seventies I bought all my supplies from England, but over the years it became more cost effective to purchase from Canada or the USA.

Suppliers I was happy with are Tuckers Pottery Supplies out of Canada, and Amaco or Brent out of the USA.

You can Google Ceramic suppliers and see who are your nearest and most affordable suppliers.

There are several books on hand building and ceramics for beginners.

You should purchase at least one of each. If you are going the route of a gas kiln, look up how to fire a gas kiln and acquire a publication.

Remember also everything is on the Internet these days, just Google your question and search for appropriate answers.

In my next post I will be offering instructions for your first commercial production.

If you would like to start production and create a hobby and earn some extra cash, start sourcing your supplies, anyone can be a ceramic artist. I have never met anyone I couldn’t train.

The Island Is looking so much better, electricity has been restored, street lights are being replaced, and the streets are looking good as there is a new arrangement that takes many garbage bins off the streets.

However most of the major hotels are still under repairs and the first should open towards month end; but most boutique hotels and some villas are open for business.

Sadly there are few tourists around, as a consequence the gallery hours has been adjusted to 9am to1 pm. I will be happy to open on request.

I have also held trunk shows on request in the past; please note that Anguillians do not normally mob celebrities; It was once rumored that a famous celebrity was in a local bar and was upset that no one was paying her any attention that she got up and performed a table dance.

The gallery will accommodate trunk shows on request or facilitate private openings after regular hours. Telephone No- 1 264 235 5109.

devonshart.com is open for business 24/7

Carrolle and I will like to thank all those online customers and friends who patronized the gallery during this difficult period.

Wood Carving Blog- The Creative Process- Stage one

Visitors to the gallery often ask questions that I am usually reluctant to answer or sometimes give an abstract answer or reply with a joke.

One of the most asked questions is. How long did it take you to carve this? Referring to a piece of art they a interested in purchasing; I usually think they want to compare price with time.

I have chosen an abstract sculpture I am in the process of carving to disclose its history from beginning to end.

Fifteen years ago I received a call from a lady telling me she was about to cut down a tree that was too close to the house and was I interested in the wood.

I paid a visit to the house and discovered that the tree was what was locally known as Shack Shack or woman’s tongue. The large dry pods would rattle in the wind.

The tree is related to the ebony family, but is not as dark as the African ebony; but still as hard and beautiful. I selected the pieces I wanted and cut them into manageable pieces so they could fit into my Mitsubishi pickup.

The pieces sat outdoors in the sun for 10 years, since I don’t have a kiln for drying wood; If the wood is not properly cured it would split when exposed to central heating or placed in direct sunlight, particularly through a glass window.

wood carving in progress

Five years ago the wood was stored in a forty-foot container, for protection from the rain and final curing.

My market is 99% Tourist, therefore carving large sculptures is a problem because of the high cost of shipping from Anguilla; I have one large sculpture in the Anguilla social security building.

The piece of wood I have chosen is a cross section of a branch, 18 inches high by 16 inches in diameter.

I am still in the process of stripping the wood naked; this also reveals the grain and first shapes.

The next stage is to place the naked wood in a place where I can view it regularly, sometimes in my bedroom. This is done for inspiration and as part of the creative process.

My first task when carving an abstract sculpture is a term I use “stripping the wood naked; in this process all the defects are removed-worm eaten holes, surface cracks etc; a chain saw is the tool of choice at this stage; if the area is too difficult or too small for the chain saw I will use a variable speed Die grinder with a steel burr.

During the creative process I will make chalk marks on the wood according to my taste and pleasing to the eye.

To be continued.

NO1 $950.00
I must apologize for my absence from the website for the past month and a half; Anguilla was devastated by hurricane Irma and I am still without electricity and normal Interne.

I am therefore unable to carve wood but I have been creating some ceramics using the slab roller; of course I am unable to complete them due to us having no electricity.

I wish I had a woodburning kiln because of the amount of wood lying around from the 200 fallen utilities poles and the number of giant tamarind, grape and other trees that were uprooted by the hurricane.

However I am alive and well and the Art Gallery suffered no damage, we lost one ceramic relief hanging that fell off the wall,there was earthquake like shaking during Irma.

We don’t expect regular electricity back for at least another month, but I hope to install a generator this week which will allow me to carve but not operate my electric kiln.

Some friends and customers has asked how they can help because of the hurricane, the Gallery does not expect to resume regular business for at least another three months;we will appreciate your help by purchasing from the website to help us through this disaster.
Manny thanks.
Courtney & Carrole.

devonish artThis post was inspired by a comment received.

Let me tell you a little story to support this tip.

In the seventies I operated a ceramic and woodcarving studio in Barbados, plus a retail outlet.

The operation had four employees, one was a young full-time potter.

On one particular day the potter either had too much to drink or smoke. but he was in the retail outlet examining the prices of the ceramics pieces he had thrown on the wheel.

His job was strictly throwing, he was not engaged in preparing the clay for throwing, another employee did that; he was not engaged in the decoration and firing of the pieces he had thrown on the wheel. He was not penalized for pieces that were loss prior to glazing and firing.

On this particular day, he waited until there were customers in the retail outlet and blurted out in a real obnoxious tone- “Look what he is charging for my work and he only pays me X dollars”

I warned him and forgave him for his embarrassing behavior; but placed him on piece work at mutually agreed prices for each piece of pottery thrown; but the pieces had to meet a certain standard.

Courtney on the potter's wheel
The working hours were 9am to 5pm. The week after this new arrangement he left the workplace between 1pm and 2pm each day. In the meantime he had thrown an average of ten percent more pieces as he usually made in the previous arrangement at a fixed salary.

I dismissed him at the end of the week and offered to help him set up is own workshop if he needed help.

About three months after I received a call from him asking if I could lend him some clay and glaze materials; I inquired as to why. His reply was he sold most of the pottery he had made, but he has no money to purchase new raw materials.

He then apologized for his obnoxious behavior and said he now understood the business and that my pricing was more than fair.

He had learnt by experience.

Put aside some savings for replenishing tools and raw materials; take your cost of raw materials out of your sales if you are to continue producing without unnecessary interruptions.

Service your tools regularly and if you live in an area where supplies are not easily available, keep spares and if your raw materials have to be shipped, don’t wait until you run out; order well ahead of time.

Let your work be your pleasure.

mahogany hearts

TOUCH FORMS by Courtney Devonish

Touch forms were first created during my student days more than 50 years ago.

In the beginning the touch forms were designed to help fellow students who wanted to quit smoking. The forms gave them something to do with their hands, which was their major complaint.

At first the students were given a piece of clay to squeeze into their most comfortable shape; the shape was then custom made in clay and glazed.

The Touch forms have evolved over the years and a shift from clay to wood took place.
Hearts has become the overwhelming favorite shape; but I still create other organic shapes including the almond.

The forms has become more popular as a stress reliever or comforter; but are sometimes bought as paperweights, for waiting rooms, bedside and center- room tables or as a constant companion and stress reliever.

They are hand carved and are finished with a silky smooth finish that once inspired the comment –“Courtney makes wood feel soft.”

Rub with mineral oil at least once per month and enjoy the benefits of these wonderful touch forms

COMMENT By TWO CUSTOMERS.

Linda from Massachusetts sent this comment on 17 March 2017.

“Your carved hearts have comforted my 10+ year- old aunt that died.

Wen she went to Hospice she would not let go of it; her daughter buried her with it.
Then my brother just died; when I went to visit him January 20, he was holding your heart.”

Your carvings have been a deep blessing; Please continue to carve.

Mary McLaughLin-USA sent this 17 April 2017

“It was great to see you today and purchase another heart; this one is made from white cedar.The mahogany heart I purchased years ago was such a comfort to me the year my mother fell ill and died. I thought I would wear it out running my hands along the smooth curves and surface. I will treasure this new one as I do the first”.

I could not hold back the tear drops; I would like to thank all the proud owners of one or more of my hearts.

I wonder how many many people own my hearts; i have never kept records but there are thousands.

Devonish Art Gallery
1 264 497 2949


Touch forms started during my student days to help fellow student quit smoking.Their major complaint was- they needed something to do with their hands- In the beginning the forms were abstract shapes but from 1998 hearts has become my best selling fine-craft item.

The students were given a piece of clay to form the most comfortable shape to suit their hands, the form was then recreated in a glazed clay form or in wood.
The touch forms have evolved over the years and are now created in wood only, mainly because of its warm feel as a touch form.

There are Collectors from all over the world,many of them are professional who either place them on the desk ao in their office waiting rooms.They are a favorite gift item for repeat visitors and business sponsored groups visiting the Island.They are carried in hand bags,sit on night tables, in living rooms and as paper weights.Recently professional therapists and caregivers have been giving them as gifts to their friends and clients; They are now mainly bought as a stress reliever,

The are super smooth with a mineral oil finish that cry out to be fondled.Price $25.00 per heart-Free shipping.
.
Hearts are available mainly in mahogany but also in other hardwoods depending on availability.finish mineral oil.

Size-Hearts vary slightly, usually 3 1/2 inches x 3 1/2 x 2 inches thick t0 11 x 11 x 4 inches thick.

Hearts are also available in other sizes on request, from small pendants to large sculpture.

You can purchase any number of hearts on request, forward an email to create a Paypal button to accommodate any bulk order.

Allow me to share a comment sent by Linda from Massachusetts on March 17. 2017- a story that touched me deeply; more so because my mother once said to me, when I was about 5 years old-“I can’t explain it, but your hands are blessed”

Story by Linda
“Your carved hearts have comforted my 100+ year old aunt that died”.

When she went to Hospice she would not let go of it; her daughter buried the heart with.
Then my brother just died; when I visited him January 20 he was holding your heart.Your carvings have been a deep blessing; please continue to carve”

Hearts are now my bread and butter craft items and are always in stock.
Large orders orders on request.

free shipping via Anguilla Post Office.

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devonishart on new platform
The move

THE MOVE.

I would like to apologize to all those who might have contacted devonishart.com in the past and did not receive adequate attention.

First the website was hosted and managed by a developer and health issues for the past two years interrupted communications.

Devonish art is now hosted on a new platform and fully managed by myself (Courtney Devonish)

Some of the art will be featured on another website that I own (buzzbrainexercisesnart.com) however all sales will be done from this website.

We look forward to your continued support