A BFA grad in Visual Art, Claire is most comfortable in the cozy, overlapping middle ground between art / design / craft.
W: When I came to your studio – I had no idea how many steps are involved in making each piece! Take us through your process.
CM: Ceramics is certainly a labour of love! Here's a break-down:
1 fill molds (wait until cast thickness is achieved, usually about 10 - 20 minutes)
2 drain, at least 20 minutes
3 take each mold and trim reservoir ring off
4 taking care not to warp the piece, trim opening edge with exacto
5 leave to firm up and start to release itself from the mold (when the molds are cooperating, 1-2 hours – up to 4 hours when they're not)
repeat steps 1 – 5 with approximately 12 molds at a time up to two more times, averaging 25 – 40 (max) pieces a day
6 open each mold and carefully release piece (again, without warping); set on table to firm up in the open air more (at least one hour)
7 reassemble mold and put away
8 when firm enough to hold, take each piece and trim the seams
9 shammy the trimmed area and lip
10 place on shelf for drying
steps 1 – 10 take an entire work day; during waiting periods, other work is done.
when dry (at least a day later) and there is enough work to fill the kiln:
11 fire to cone 06 (bisque firing; from putting the work in the kiln and firing to over 1800 *F to cooling down below 100 *F takes about 24 hours)
12 sieve glaze
13 pour glaze into each piece
14 wet sand seams with 400 grit sandpaper
15 dry with a fan on pieces overnight
16 glaze details added: rims dipped
17 loaded into kiln and fired to over 2300 *F
18 unload over 24 hours later when cool
19 final wet sanding of unglazed areas of piece with 600 grit sandpaper
20 (scrutinize for imperfections)
Of course, before production can take place: molds are created, casting slip is mixed (I mix 400 lbs of dry materials at a time) glaze is weighed and mixed and sieved, the casting and firing process takes a minimum of 5 days for each piece; if additional firings are required (is lustre is added, for example), it addes another day; jewellery findings require a few more days for the adhesives to cure.
W: WOW! That is a labour of love. This is why we love doing these events - so great people like you can share with the world how much goes into what they see here at the shop. Where do you find inspiration for your designs / patterns?
CM: I definitely find myself drawn to early – mid century vintage objects / designs / patterns -- I always say these things 'find' me when I'm looking around second hand shops. The variety of objects made, the palette, the typography, the quality of materials used – never fails to draw me in for a look. Many times the best ideas are right under my nose.
W: What is your biggest challenge?
CM: Wearing so many hats at once in a creative enterprise: on top of striving to make excellent work, juggling the other necessary components of the job (photography and marketing especially) can sometimes be overwhelming.
W: What is your favourite thing about your craft?
CM: The creative possibilities of taking one thing and making it into another – especially having the power to wear some of the things I make!
Thank you Claire!
Come on down tomorrow and meet the lovely lady in person. 6 - 9pm, 'A Show of Ceramics'.