Saturday, March 12, 2016

Ballpoint Pen Drawings Digitally Printed Ceramic Transfers

Finally the creative moment has arrived. I am able to translate my ballpoint pen drawings into digitally printed ceramic transfers/decals in all shapes and sizes. Every mark is there and clearly visible is the drawing technique referred to as crosshatching, mastered to create the three-dimensional modelled effect of the rendered subject, in this case a flower. The creative opportunities are endless. This was not possible with the silk-screening decal/transfer manufacturing processes with on-glaze colours – silkscreening flat colours (layered).


Enclosed are images of plates (readymades*) with the ceramic transfers/decals in a variety of patterns, created from a ballpoint pen drawing of an iris flower titled 'Iris Troiana'. The drawing formed part of an artists book installation titled, Read Peep Reap.



A renowned collector of artist’s books purchased the artwork towards the end of 2014, at an artist’s book group exhibition at Gallery Art On Paper, Johannesburg. Follow the provided link to a blog post showcasing the work in the gallery. The drawing is one of three components that make up the purchased artists book installation (image on the left). Of particular interest are images of the original drawing (framed drawing) and a few images of the patterns - exploring symmetry and asymmetry. The designs were digitally created using the form and shape of the rendered flower.


The next phase is to develop an appropriate clay form and shape to best utilise the showcased digital ceramic transfers. My friend and colleague, John Shirley and I, have had numerous discussions as to a possible and suitable solution – a ceramic end product. We came up with a few concepts and ideas, three to be exact.




The first concept is to design and develop forms and shapes, sculptural and or vessel based, that in one way or another reads as pages and underscores ‘bookness’. This is an obvious route to follow, the idea derived from the artists book installation – a ceramic statement as artist book or vice-versa. 

Captured here are preparatory renderings exploring obvious vessels forms and shapes - initial sketches. The digital ceramic transfers will include the preparatory renderings, reference material, text and final drawing (exploring the codex of the book) and patterns re-enforcing the notion of artist sketchbooks, expressive vessels, and sculptural books, albeit in the medium of clay.




This would make sense, as I am a ceramic artist with a passion for drawing, especially ballpoint pen renderings. I have about 25 sketchbooks full of drawings, first started as a master’s student at Michaelis. It also falls within the ambit of my latest creative and research output in which I celebrate the handmade, with strong concepts and meaning that straddles the disciplines of ceramics, sculpture, drawing, artist’s books, digital printing, ceramic installations with projected animations and including design.


The second idea is to collaborate with a ceramist creating digitally produced clay forms. The challenge being an appropriate smooth glazed ceramic surface. The idea is to combine digitally produced clay forms with digitally produced ceramic transfers that were hand crafted in its conceptual development phase. Here I am thinking of the work of Jonathan Keep, image on the left and below.


The third idea is to complete the modelling and casting for the pop-couture ceramic statement – a stylised popcorn with handcrafted surface development options – follow link to concept renderings etc. Each work will then be a one-off, exploring various drawings selected from my sketchbooks, celebrating the concepts and ideas afresh.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Pop Couture – Developing the Ceramic Idea and Concept.



This is the first blog entry, in a series, outlining the developing of a new idea / concept in the design and manufacture of a range of ceramic products titled Pop Couture. The ceramic work will take the form and shape of popcorn. 

Presented here are preparatory ballpoint pen renderings and one or two finished drawings, showcasing the development of the form and shape for the manufacture of the ceramic products. The ceramics will be slip cast in porcelain and or bone china and individually decorated to create one-of-a-kind expressive ceramic statement.





As the title suggests the ceramic work will incorporate and make reference to Pop Art and Haute couture.  Two quotes below provide a glimpse into the thinking behind the work and possible creative outcomes. Various books have and will influence my thinking, they include; Art and Authenticity, Thomas Heatherwick MAKING, The Hare with Amber Eyes, Manufractured, Fragiles and Digital Handmade (recently acquired). The specifics of which will be explained in future blog posts.

Pop Art exploded onto the art scene on both sides of the Atlantic in the early 1960s. Suddenly a few artists turned against the long-standing art world aversion to bourgeois culture and liberated the use of popular materials and methods. They recognised that their material image banks and those of their audience, as well, came not from the Bible or Classical myth, or novels and plays, or even history but from films, adverts, television and comics. The works of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein played with references from every day life and fashion to make bold, vibrant art that initiated and artistic revolution during the post-war flowering of a consumer culture , spearheaded by developments in the US. (Bradford R, 2012: end cover).


Haute couture; French for "high sewing" or "high dressmaking" or "high fashion") refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute couture is high-end fashion that is constructed by hand from start to finish, made from high quality, expensive, often unusual fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable sewers, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. Couture translates literally from French as "dressmaking" but may also refer to fashion, sewing, or needlework and is also used as a common abbreviation of haute couture and refers to the same thing in spirit. (Wikipedia as cited on 11 December 2015)


The rendered ideas on paper require further investigation, refining of the form and shape from a surface development perspective.  The surface is what will receive major attention in the individually crafted bespoke products. The overall form and shape of the popcorn will remain the same. It is vital that a simplified form and shape be designed (stylised), conducive to a variety of surface development options – either hand painted, digital crafted decals and specially formulated glazes. Various sizes will be created to explore one-of-a-kind ceramic statements and installations (small, medium and large). This will be achieved by modelling the desired form and shape in Y2 modelling Clay. The prototype will then be photographed and scanned, using the latest technology (3D printing), to produce a variety of sizes, end products for moulding and slip casting.


My prime aim and objective will be to create ceramics that celebrates the handmade in a digital age in the context of globalisation. Various surfaces development techniques and methods will be embraced to express myself. In some works I will exploit my own ballpoint pen drawings skills to create one-of-a-kind digitally printed decals on a variety of themes. Hopefully I can capitalise on the latest technology to create authentic ceramic surface techniques in keeping with the title of the works.


Emphasis will be placed on the bespoke, celebrating the handmade. Another idea will be to celebrate the skills of the unknown craftspeople, paying homage to the artisan, in the creation of contemporary ceramic “couture” statements. The details of which will be explored further in future blog posts.



The work will be a return to the design and manufacture of ceramic sculptures, my first love as a student and emerging artist. The envisaged end product falls within the scope of the focus of my creative output in the past few years. I am very happy that the end product will be a ceramic work, in form and shape as well as in the development of appropriate ceramic surfaces.