The Found Father
This body of work is called the ‘Found Father’ as it was partly inspired by the ‘lost boys’ in Peter Pan. I want to highlight the importance of the father whose role in the early weeks of a new baby’s life can be uncertain and confusing and the father can feel very lost.
The giant rattle jewellery was made to celebrate fatherhood. It is playful and references the vulnerability felt by new fathers. Both mothers and fathers need support in the early days and many of the models that were used to make the forms were originally floatation aids such as rubber rings and fishing floats.
The ceramic pendant jewellery takes inspiration from the Mexican Bola necklace. It rattles and the mother wears it on a long chain during pregnancy. Once the baby is born the rattle can be worn by either parent to soothe, as the sound will be as familiar as their mother’s heartbeat. The findings and fixings are rescued from men’s vintage pocket watches, in recognition of all the fathers that have gone before us.
How I Work - The Process
Using porcelain and earthenware clay, I slip cast and hand build my sculptural pieces
Many ‘precious objects’ have been passed down to me from my parents and grand parents but I also collect things that appeal to me from flea markets, skips and beaches. Then I basically play with these bits and pieces, arranging them like a collage until inspiration strikes. I also read and ponder a lot and draw a bit.
Sometimes I make the original model from clay. Sometimes I use ‘found’ objects as models. I also make plaster models using a lathe if I want something perfectly symmetrical. I used plaster poured into balloons for my pendant jewellery.
Making Plaster Moulds from the Model
I make plaster moulds so that I can reproduce my desired object’s size and form. The decoration and finish can then be varied. I also enjoy the lengthy, messy process that is mould making.
Slip-Casting and Press-Moulding
Liquid clay (slip) is poured into a mould and left for a period of time before the excess clay is poured away leaving a skin of porcelain in the mould resulting in a hollow object. Press-moulding involves making a thin slab of clay and pushing that into the mould before joining the two (or more) sides together.
The excess clay is trimmed away. I either leave the clay bare or use underglazes and slips to paint my work. I use a needle to make tiny holes in the form and ‘incise’ patterns using a knife.
The object is left to dry and then has its first (bisque) firing which transforms it from clay into ceramic. I then apply a shiny or matt clear glaze and re-fire it to as high as 1260 degrees Centigrade. The firing process takes about 24 hours.
Applying Decals and Lustre
I use real gold and silver lustre and gold leaf decals for the final decoration. The object then goes back in the kiln for its third firing so that the decals and lustre can melt into the glaze.
For pendants, a vintage pocket-watch key is attached to it and is finished by adding either a sterling silver or leather chain using silver wire. The men’s pendants with their pocket watch keys are attached to vintage and modern giant safety pins.