Mold Making with Claire

Making the Cottle

Using the lathe I worked with Claire to center the clay and create the shape that’ll form the step I need at the top of my finished mold. This step is important when making a slip cast mold – if the mold was just flat at the top there wouldn’t be room for a spare at the top of my form. This is useful as I can overfill the mold and the excess at the top – the spare – can be trimmed away which will help introduce air between the mold and the drying slip.

Once this base was made I formed a cottle around the outside, once this was in place I clamped the edges to make sure it didn’t slip apart. I tied it all together with string, rolling clay around the base to ensure the plaster didn’t leak out of the bottom.


Mold Making

Plaster Mold

I mixed together 3lbs of plaster with water making sure to mix it well – a bad mix means there’s more chance of air bubbles forming in the mold and creating undercuts inside the form. Once the mixture was about to turn I poured it into the cottle and waited for it to set. Once it was done I removed the cottle and filed down any sharp edges.


Slip Casting

Once the molds were dry (I left them in the drying cabinet overnight) I was able to start making my forms.

Things to remember:

  • I should make a couple more molds in a few weeks so as to not overwork the ones I have, the more I use them the more water is introduced into the plaster. Rapid drying of the plaster can eventually damage the mold so it would be good to have back up molds just in case.
  • When using these molds I should never leave them in the drying cabinet for more than ten minutes at a time, as this can cause the plaster to crack.
  • The slip machine needs to be turned on for at least half an hour to an hour before use, I should factor this into my making schedule.

First Forms

I began with a plan to make two successful forms. Mixing the slip was a lot easier than I expected and has definitely opened up the possibility of working with different kinds of slips once I’ve got my head around this step first.

I worked on making one form really thick, and another really thin. The slip I worked with was a lot more watery than usual but this lent itself really well to creating thin walls. In future the slip will have to be thicker for consistency.

A thinner form only took ten minutes in the mold, a thicker took about 13-15minutes. Once I’m working with denser slip I’ll need to experiment more with my timings as casting will be a lot quicker.

I ended up making four forms, all of different thicknesses.


Juree Kim – Artist in Residence // V&A


Hwigyeong – 揮景 series, Juree Kim (2011). soil and water.


Place and Practices, Juree Kim, (2017).

Kim works primarily with clay, performance and film to explore the themes surrounding social and natural environments with a focus upon Korean cultural identity. Kim’s artistic work and research mirrors Brownsword’s concerns due to her observations on the destruction of regions within Eastern Seoul as a result off gentrification and the displacement of local communities and skills.

V&A Artist Residency

When making my pots I’d considered ways in which I could destroy them in order to convey trauma, and had spoken about smashing them, however this felt too directly violent. I’m not looking to undermine or downplay any violence towards women, but smashing the ceramic forms doesn’t highlight subtle & unseen trauma women experienced which lead to the period of silence and shame. Kim Juree’s process of ‘melting’ unfired clay into water to represent the destruction of traditional architecture throughout Eastern Seoul is both effective and interesting to observe. I feel I can understand her frustrations and the urgency of the situation.


While I was at the V&A I took the opportunity to find out as much as I could about Juree Kim’s work and her residency. I found her studio up on the sixth floor and viewed the work she had displayed in the windows. It was interesting seeing the small pieces leftover from past work, of experiments and process.


Moving over to the Korean Ceramics exhibition I finally saw her piece and was surprised at how small it was compared to videos I’d seen online. Despite its size I was still fascinated by the level of detail in the piece, and spent a long while moving around it. It’s a shame it was surrounded by barriers, I felt they were quite ugly and boxed the piece in quite a lot.

If I need to put up barriers for health and safety reasons I’ll definitely be a lot more considered with what kind I choose. I felt the height of the rope being higher than the plinth the work was on was a poor curatorial decision.



Walking around the piece was my favourite aspect of the display, as most of the other items in the exhibition were in glass cases against walls and didn’t offer much of a surrounding view. I enjoyed having different views and more opportunity to really inspect the work as each side offered new crevices to look into.


I do wish I could see the piece actually in water. I’m not sure if the water had been added that morning and had evaporated or been absorbed by the time I arrived in the afternoon. I went in search of a staff member to ask but they were unsure.


On my way out I had another look into Kim’s studio space and found a sign with information about open studios for visitors to drop in – I think I’ll try and visit again in time for one of the last three dates.



Experimenting With Water

At home I took the thickest form and the thinnest and put them in small containers. The thinner form I filled with water, the thicker one I poured water around the outside.

Filling the pots with water on the inside wasn’t as interesting, due to shadows cast you couldn’t see the parts crumbling as nicely as when the water was poured around the pot. Also, when the walls of the pot eventually fell away the water spilled out into the tray, taking bits of clay with it and the water ended up milky. It felt underwhelming.

When the pots dissolved with the water around them it was much more interesting, big chunks fell away and watching it melt was really pleasing. I wanted to see each bit fall away, whereas when it was just on the inside I couldn’t see as much.

After my first lot of experiments in the kitchen I decided that fully submerging the forms in water meant they dissolved too quickly and didn’t look as exciting, so I started a new experiment with the form partly submerged in water and filmed it at short intervals with a timestamp to help me keep track of how long it took for one form to vanish. This test was done with completely bone dry greenware, the experiments I did at home were with slightly wet forms which I only realised once I felt the bone dry ones the next day.


After the first timed experiment I looked at how long it would take for a form to dissolve on top of a bed of clay from a previous form.




Pots made over the last couple of weeks: 31

During my QRS groups I’ve shown the experiments of the pots dissolving in the water and my main focus is now to continue production of as many pots as possible in order to represent the scale of the themes I’m exploring. My hope is that during the WIP show I’ll dissolve lots of pots into some kind of tank throughout the night.


Making Notes

  • One of the molds isn’t releasing the forms as easily, one portion of the plaster is a slightly different texture, I’ll need to sand that section down with some glass paper if it gets any worse.
  • One form takes about half an hour to make, and so far I’ve made 33 with two molds and several failures. The molds can’t be used too much, as once they’re too wet they don’t release the forms anymore. I’ve found two to three hours is enough time to work with the molds before they become too wet to continue using. At the start of the new semester I’ll book with Claire to make a few more molds in order to speed up the process, reducing the overall amount of water introduced into the original two molds.
  • The slip machine is still producing fairly watery slip, which isn’t necessarily a problem for the size I’m working with, but it is a problem considering how many forms I need to continue making, as this means there’s more water being absorbed into the plaster. Claire was recycling a lot of clay today so hopefully the mixture will be denser soon.

To Do

w/c January 22nd

  1. Fettle all dried forms
  2. Finish four collections of pots (4×6=24) plus at least six more just in case (30)
  3. Transport to SOA
  4. Photograph various display methods
  5. Finish publication
  6. Add all notes/research so far to blog
  7. Sort out the post format for my blog.

Work in Progress Show Display (Formative Assessment)



Initially my idea was to include plinths inside the tank to make it more dynamic but I’ve since realised that brings all kinds of issues into play such as hierarchy associated with raising some pots above others or generally in relation to other things.


I’ve settled on placing the pots in the bottom and letting all the sediment build up to raise the pots gradually naturally, rather than placing them on their own plinths.



Once the tank arrived I placed the original forms inside to work out if there was enough space between them for each one to dissolve. I didn’t want the tank to be too cramped, but having too much room around them wouldn’t have been appropriate either. Thankfully I’d picked the right sized tank and was happy with the amount of room around each form.

I placed the forms inside the tank and wasn’t too happy with how regimented they looked but I didn’t want them to be randomly placed in the bottom as I felt that would speak too much of other themes. I needed to keep the formation simple and considered. I thought back to my time in South Korea at the House of Sharing and of my time in The Place of Requiem and remembered the memorials for the women who first publicly testified of their experiences at the hands of the Japanese Army: