October 21, 2014

Cut It Out

I think my artistic talents were at their peak in primary school. The comments in my report cards praised my "beautiful, flowing lines" but I don't believe I progressed much beyond that. My high school art project of  an Arcimboldo-esque self portrait was comical and the best grade I achieved in that class was for a coffee table book cover I designed in Photoshop. Layers on layers on layers. Suffice to say, an artist I am not. I rate my artistic ability to be extremely low but though I may not be talented with the paintbrush I am a devotee of the arts and appreciate most artistic pursuits and offerings. 

An invitation was extended to me late last week to flex these limited artistic talents of mine at a clay workshop. Run by local ceramic artist Patricia Fernandes, the Art of Stencilling was the opportunity to get my hands covered in some clay and hopefully have something worth showing at the end of it.

Patricia started conducting workshops this year in response to many of her customers wanting to get a hands on experience in making ceramics and clay pieces. These stencilling workshops are the newest offered by her and puts a twist on her traditional means of decorating and embellishing her creations. 

Photo credit: SOUL of SHU

My exposure to stencilling is limited to that of the graffiti and street art world so I was curious to see how it could be applied to what Patricia does. Armed with my three designs I headed to her studio on Saturday to get my stencil on. I won't even regale you with the very smutty joke I made during the workshop but those in attendance will tell you it was pure gold. 

Photo credit: SOUL of SHU

I initially had planned to make one clay piece and stencil one design on top of another but when I found out that we could make up to four items, I decided to scrap that idea and use two of them for separate pieces. I was restricted with time to use my third stencil as I took a very long time cutting out my first one. 

In addition to her ceramicist talents, Patricia is also something of a whiz in the kitchen. Lunch is included with her workshop and it's far from the usual bland and boring offerings of sandwiches and juice boxes. To begin with, Patricia had baked some delicious chocolate shortbread biscuits that I nibbled on with my cups of tea earlier in the morning and then for lunch she had a roast lamb and bacon garnished potatoes waiting for us in the oven. Helllooooo. Her homemade gravy and mint sauce set the meat and potatoes off just right. 
Oh, and if you're wondering about all those gorgeous colourful dishes on the table. She made them.

After a hugely satisfying lunch we proceeded to the next stage of the workshop; applying our stencil designs to the clay. Having decided on making a platter and two small bowls, I got to working and kneading my clay to shape. Unfortunately my stencil design was not conducive to being applied to a bowl so I made the executive decision to reshape one bowl into a flat plate and apply one of the pre-cut diamond stencils to it and for the other to cut my stencil to shape, hopefully allowing it to fit inside the bowl. 

Although I was disheartened with how my stencil design turned out for the bowl, I was very happy with my large platter. I didn't cut the cleanest lines on my smaller stencils which caused some bleed of the paint but hey, you learn. A stencil artist is not created overnight! 

Photo credit: SOUL of SHU
All our creations were left in the care of Patricia who will be firing them in her kiln. I should receive them in the next couple of weeks. I was quite fastidious in checking my pieces for air bubbles to ensure that there'd be no explosions from my end once they got all toasty in the kiln. 

If you'd like to attend your own ceramic and clay workshop get in touch with Patricia. She also has her Christmas range coming out soon and in addition to that, her work has been featured in Sophie Zalokar's Food of the Southern Forests book! Ballin'!

Hugs and kisses to Patricia for having me at the workshop. 

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