Pandaji's Blog

Art, research, education

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Student Work: Greenwich Community College

Some examples of student work from the evening class at Greenwich Community College, using a “5 second” plate technique:

  1. Roll out the clay to an even thickness using guides.
  2. Imprint textured fabric by rolling onto clay and then removing it.
  3. Place the mold on the clay and cut around the perimeter.
  4. Place the cut out clay on a sponge, face up.
  5. Press the mold onto the clay on the sponge.
  6. Place the plate on a board, let it harden, and sponge the edges.


Example using cobalt carbonate wash and clear glaze, fired to 1260 degrees.


Student work using the same technique and finish, fired to 1260 degrees.


Student work using the same technique for making with different glazes, fired to 1260 degrees.


Student work using the same technique for making with different glazes, fired to 1260 degrees.


Student work using the same technique for making, ‘greenwich green’ glaze, fired to 1260 degrees.


Thrown plates, decorated using oxides and underglaze colour, clear glazed, fired to 1260 degrees.


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Tourist Mugs

Here is a timeline of my tourist mugs and the London history that appears on them, celebrating the everchanging london skyline as seen from birds eye travelling from Greenwich in the east to Big Ben and the London Eye in the west, via the River Thames. I have been making these mugs since 1989,  including the rescue helicopter which has been flying from the top of the Royal london hospital since then.

My technique: red earthenware thrown, turned and handled, then dipped in white slip then sgraffito drawings of London skyline, underglaze colours and oxides, clear glazed and since 2012 i have sometimes been adding transfers.


Docklands light railway

The docklands light railway (DLR) also had part of its route through Isle of Dogs to Greenwich, completed in 1987 the year I started my certificate in ceramics.

the docklands light railway (DLR) completed in 1987

the docklands light railway (DLR) completed in 1987


The Canary Wharf Tower (known as One Canada Square)  was completed in August 1991.


Millenium Dome 

In 2000, the Millennium Dome (now known as the o2 ) was completed.

to celebrate the turn of the century 2000 the millenium dome (now o2) built on greenwich peninsula

to celebrate the turn of the century 2000 the millenium dome (now o2) built on greenwich peninsula


The Gherkin 

the millenium dome was followed by  the gherkin (30 st mary axe) in 2003

the millenium dome was followed by the gherkin (30 st mary axe)
in 2003


The Fourth Plinth




The fourth plinth in trafalgar square began in 2005 with– a 3.6 metre (12 ft), 13-tonne Carrara marble torso-bust of Alison Lapper, an artist who was born with no arms and shortened legs due to a condition called phocomelia.


My mugs featured the work of Yinka Shonibare’s Ship in a Bottle, on fourth plinth between 2010-2012, now at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

my mugs also feature the work of yinka shonibare’s Nelson's ship in a bottle now at the national maritime museum in greenwich. 2010-2012

my mugs featured the work of Yinka Shonibare’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle on fourth plinth between 2010-2012, now at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.


The Shard


From 2012 to date the skyline now includes the Shard, the Cheesegrater, and the Walkie Talkie, along with an influx of foxes at street level.


The Cheesegrater 

made in 2013

made in 2013

Walkie Talkie

cupid and walkie talkie

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More Raku

This Om design is brushed with wax resist, then the plate is dipped in white crackle glaze.
1om b4
The wax resists the glaze and gets smoked black in sawdust.
1om after
Lighthouse before glazing.
Lighthouse white crackle glaze and wax resist producing black areas of smoke.
1lighthouse after
Dragonfly unglazed.
1dragonflies b4
Dragonfly glazed with copper lustre and reduced in sawdust.
1df after

Examples of work using coloured slips and sgraffito before bisque firing, and clear raku glaze.

1raku work2

1raku work 3
1raku family 1
Another family.
1raku family

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fish platter

I recently received a commission to make a fish plate as a leaving present for someone working for the Marine Stewardship Council. The order was for the fish part of their logo to be included, as large as possible, with the rim ends higher than the sides.

I made some test pieces with the fish impressed and in relief, experimenting with several clays and glazes. I emailed photographs of the test pieces, and the impressed design on porcelain was chosen for the plate. I explained that the kiln dimensions limited the length of the plate; the maximum is 16 inches.

I made a hump mould of the oval using a 16-inch long oval plastic bowl from the pound shop. Next, I made a cardboard copy of the fish logo and rolled it into the slab of clay, before laying it onto the mould. Then I allowed it to dry slowly. When it was stiff (leatherhard), I removed it from the mould and worked on the rim with a surform to create the higher ends and lower sides.

I made three test plates in porcelain using this method, one out of white St. Thomas, and a couple of white earthenware as last resort backups. I was nervous as I had never made anything so long and flat, and suspected they could crack easily during the firings. The impressed design meant the base thickness was uneven.

I dried the plates very slowly and transported them with the help of a friend with a car to a large kiln. I used plenty of alumina powder rolled flat on the kiln shelves to allow for the shrinkage that happens when clay is fired. (This is due to the molecules of clay that lie in plates which slide over each other in the raw state, moving so close together that they join up during the firing, a process known as vitrification).

The first firing was 100% successful, but during the glaze firing, one of the porcelain plates cracked. Possibly because of firing too soon after glazing, and not allowing sufficient time for the glaze to dry thoroughly, so then the sides collapsed on one another. Fortunately, one came out successfully!

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Profile 2. How to… guides on the blackboard and in the studio, May 2010

An addition to the “how to” guides is the one on how to glaze. I laminated it so that it can be taken to the workplace, usually by the sink when glazing. I felt that this has been a success because I observed many students testing the thickness in the way the card instructed, and then coming and asking me if I thought it was the right thickness.

One of the main points I have gained from attending the course is being more aware of the student support available across the university for student’s issues or problems beyond my own scope, and helping students to access these if they need to.

Ceramics is a lengthy process with amounts of time waiting for clay to dry, which means it is a very good opportunity for getting to know one’s students and vice versa. The trust builds up by spending time together. I am thinking more about the kinds of environments I can create for the use of the ever-decreasing time in the learning week and how to improve the support and guidance. Particularly vis à vis cross-curricular use of clay. It was interesting to be in Camberwell College recently to see how they have become what they call “resource based” rather than “subject based” and to think about whether our idea to share cross-curricular resources is heading in the same direction.

How to increase cross-curricular use of clay was a concern of mine when I started the PG Cert. Currently I am assisting seven students who are using clay for final show pieces, but none of them have used clay before. I am wondering if this is happening because the head of fine art is encouraging it or whether it is just how it has happened this year. The pedagogy I have learned has helped with this conundrum. I try and ask myself an action research question which will help me find out the answer. I have been encouraged to spend a whole term discussing such issues with my peer group, but am concerned that the subject makes a difference, so not all the theories can apply to us all. I would like (as I mention elsewhere) to find my community of practice amongst the four other ceramic technicians across the University of the Arts.