I thought of the idea of Transformer Ceramics about 18 months ago when a friend of mine in Glasgow, Susan O’Byrne, said that she had a jigger jolly machine that was not being used in their studio, and that possibly I would be interested in it.
Of course I was interested, and with a lot of determination from a friend Linsey, Alisdair Kettles and son, Susan, and myself, we managed it to get it loaded onto a van and made it to the studio. It was in bad shape, but it was fixable, and in doing so, I could really understand how the machine worked. I replaced the motor, belts, and resurfaced bearings and pulleys. I then had a machine that there was no instruction manual for. Very few people I had come across in my ceramic practice had even had a go at using one, let alone produced ware on it for themselves.
It probably can best be described as a mechanical throwing machine. It used a negative plaster mould that spins, clay is introduced, and part machined, part pushed into place using a template on an arm.
I have learned how to use this process through plain brute force… Messing up at almost every turn. The mould making has to be really spot on, the clay consistency is critical, how fast the machine is turning at certain stages, and how fast the template comes down all are factors.
I have finally made some pretty repeatable results with 2 projects. I made my Wedge cups with the machine, and local Illustrator Susie Wright wanted to make some cups with her illustrations on them.
Now that I’ve done a couple small projects, I thought it would be important to start making a range of work on the machine, and really start using it’s production powerhouse nature. I’ve had to invest in some tooling to scale up the objects I intend to make, and these things aren’t exactly off the shelf things. I have made most of the models and am doing all that I can before the tooling is finished. It should be coming in the next couple of weeks, so I can get on with the production moulds.