7. Designing For The Future

Out in the studio, I have been busy preparing for new clay classes (to be held at Benedict House from 2 May 2012). My courses will explore fundamental, intermediate and advanced techniques. Each class will be an informal experience designed to inspire imagination and experimentation.

The class preparation has given me an excuse to try out some new techniques. One example is making text beads with inkjet waterslide transfers. I found the instructions straightforward, even suspiciously easy. Sure enough, I would add a further printed caution:- ensure that no moisture seeps under the transfer at the edges (or the text will blur). Until baking, my transfer appeared to be a success. The text was crisp; the backing slid off easily; and there was firm and smooth adhesion between the bead surface and the skin-like printed film.

For years I have listened to my father (a material scientist and retired conservator) caution against the mixing of unlike materials. His words came to life before my eyes. Microscopic air bubbles and wrinkles had formed during baking. Clearly, the transfer film (being of a different material) did not shrink at the 1% rate of the underlying polymer clay. I tried to heal the flaws by piercing the air bubbles and applying a thin slip of translucent clay.

Ultimately, I abandoned the bead. I pared back the transfer, sanded back the core and started afresh with a laser transfer directly onto liquid polymer clay- matching like with like. Whilst the first bead looked fine, I was not confident that the bead would wear well over time. The two unlike materials would continue to resist each other. In the rough and tumble of daily wear, the marriage would eventually break down.

Incidentally, the beads commemorate the sinking of the Titanic, which occurred 100 years ago in mid April. I was inspired by late night radio programs about the musicians aboard the vessel and the effect of the accident on those who saved themselves at the expense of others (including children). The Titanic endures as a controversial reminder of fatal human pride and the need to consider the future in real, not imagined terms.

I have also been experimenting with alcohol inks and metal foils. This enabled me to give life to some miniature sculptural projects I have had on the backburner. Mushrooms, pumpkin, ikebana, and even the Majishan Grottoes feature in these works.


If you are interested in seeing some of this work, please get in contact directly or come and visit Benedict House in Queanbeyan on May 6 for a ‘Form and Fashion’ exhibition.

Also on the subject of designing for the future, we were recently digging footings for a new garden bed. My crowbar-wielding husband spotted a tiny frog at his feet. We were thrilled to see the little creature. It confirmed for us that our former hard work (sinking a recycled bath into our garden as a pond) was worth the effort for struggling wildlife. Google later showed us that the frog was a rare and endangered Boorolong frog. Such frogs are found only in limited littoral forests throughout NSW. They have virtually disappeared from Victoria and do not live in other parts of Australia. We did not see it again but talk of frogs burbled from the children throughout the afternoon, accompanied by the trickle of water from our new solar powered water fountain…








Meanwhile, the tomatoes keep coming. When the self-sown plants popped up in paths and concrete cracks and the odd pot in Spring, I hoped that re-planting them under the fruit trees would bring us a tasty crop. I had no idea that I would be filling a 10L bucket every 3 days well into Autumn! The chokos too are now forming another refrigerator glut- hard up against the zucchini glut that we have just got under control. Who said gardening is a peaceful activity (a non-gardener!)?