Subject and Field: End of Year Eval and Summary

Building on the work I produced before Christmas, I have reproduced the original white pots. I am presenting these refined versions as part of the subject module, and furthering them into the brand for Field.

I have kept the forms very very similar, except re-lathed all the pots with a foot ring that sits on the outside rather than in the middle. This makes the pots look tidy when they sit, and also is easier for me to mould and cast from. These re-lathed forms were the basis for the Field range, where I took the white earthenware pots and made them into stoneware.

I made several of each moulds, improving on my mould making skills dramatically since before Christmas, and cast from both materials within the same moulds. This resulted in the casts being different sizes, as the clays shrunk at different percentages.

Originally, I wanted the stoneware pots to be white aswell, with a splash of colour on the inside. Through some failed kiln loads and more experiments, this ended up developing into a really special combination of 60s interior style brown with a 50s brightly glazed inside. While I’ve found that vintage palettes are trending right now, it gives me such pleasure that I can combine my love for vintage colours with what is selling well. The exterior also gave the effect of a wood firing, which I’ve been able to recreate easily since within an electric kiln.

While being extremely happy with the aesthetics of the pieces, I was less than happy at the structure. I had made my own slip myself, and it produced the most perfect texture and response to the glaze (speckles on the inside for example) but it could not keep its structure to save its life. Each and nearly every pot would warp, and it could warp quite significantly. I cast the pots thicker – and even at bisque temperature they would still warp. This is something I will be addressing immediately after presentation Monday, by phoning the stockist of the clay and asking their advice. I have also been advised on experimenting with adding a little bit of dispex and seeing how that goes. The earthenware pots though, did keep their shape very well.

Another problem I found with casting was that even though my pots were emptied at the same time, the casting thicknesses were very different and so wasn’t the most ideal thing when it came to a collective set. I’m putting this down to my moulds having different thickness walls, and I will be re-making new moulds that I can take with me into my next escapade in September. Having different thickness walls for each of the pots made it extremely hard to lathe a tonne of lids that were a universal fit… and of course this didn’t happen in the end because all the lids had to be custom fit with different seals to fit the pots they were assigned to. Again, not ideal.

Seals are my next thing to evaluate. I’ve completely missed the mark with seals, even though they are an extremely important part of my project I didn’t put as much research into them as I should have. If I had to use glue, I would have to use a FDA approved glue like Permabond, which is strong enough to attach plastic to wood but also food grade. In an ideal world, I would not like to use glue at all. I would probably go back to my original idea of using rubber band style gaskets, like this one

but getting them for the perfect fit. After trawling the internet it seems virtually impossible to find what I want, so it may even be an option to get them custom made if I have no other options left.

Moving on to pewter –

Looking at the organic pewter and ceramic vessel I made for the formative before Christmas, I realised that although I liked the attractive looking vessel, it didn’t sit within my aims for a project – functional homeware – and was more of an art piece than anything. Rethinking this, I went back to the original idea of having attachments and refined these designs into 3 simple attachments – a vase neck, a lid with spoon and a cup holder. I did quite a few designs for each but settled on a simple geometric style, which sat nicely besides the nostalgic theme of the other pieces. I found making these quite difficult, and they required several mould re-dos. I also found that the pewter either shrank or came out thicker than what the mould intended, as it did not fit on the pot nicely and required me to take a lot of material out via a dremmel. This resulted in a lot of wasted time and does not prove for efficient practise when creating these pieces for retail. I think the problem was that pink silicone was used, and tends to have a softer texture than the high temperature red silicone, which would have kept its shape a lot better when cast in. I would remake these pieces via red/high temperature tough silicone.

Branding –

I knew from the start that I didn’t want to have my name on the pieces. I wanted to develop a brand name that I was happy to keep for a long time. I went through several ideas and ended up on Olio. I made loads of designs based on this name, but ended up having to scrap them because Olio was already known as a ceramic range. I spent more time looking for a new name and landed on “Olla!”, the latin word for Pot. It was similar to Olio and an easy word to design a brand around. Branding is extremely important to me, and I’m presenting the brand itself as a Field outcome. For this, I have designed a small catalogue of 16 pages, two postcards, a facebook page, a business email and a website. I spent a fair amount of time doing these as it’s important to me to set up a brand reputation from the start, so that future customers can remember it. I’ve also set up a newsletter app that visitors of my website can sign up to. I’m quite happy with what I’ve done, but within the next couple of months I’d like to get help from a designer with graphic experience, as mine is quite lacking. I’d ask them to design me a consistent colour palette that changes every season, and a logo that is more punchy – while keeping the same font. Other things that need work is website layout, and choice of images.

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/ollahomeware

Website – http://www.ollahomeware.co.uk

Email – jade@ollahomeware.co.uk

Summary; what I’ll be submitting for

Subject

  • Old white earthenware pots
  • New white earthenware pots
  • Sketch book designs
  • Pewter and ceramic organic vessel
  • Glaze recipe text book
  • Professional practise – applications (inc space, masters, fireworks), postcard proof, business cards, catalogue proof, creative cv, swot analysis on my application,  website and social media presence

Field

  • V.V.V. stoneware collection
  • Sketch book designs
  • Olla! brand designs and decals
  • Wood turned lids
  • Pewter attachments
  • Exhibition display

 

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Show Plan

I’ve changed my show plan several times, due to having different helpful advise given to me. My first idea was to have two long plinths next to one another and have the objects dotted along each. The next was to have one long shelf and then 3 separate plinths infront with the pewter objects on, covered by an acrylic box. I was advised that this made my pieces look more gallery like, rather than being displayed like the products they are. I was also advised on displaying many of each product, instead of one of each that I planned on.

I went back to the drawing board and looked at how I could display in a more homely style. I started by taking photos on a white painted shelf, and comparing it to a plain wooden one. I did think they looked nicer on a white one, as a wooden shelf distracted the eye away from the wooden lids. Having a white shelf also matches that of everyone else.

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Eventually I settled on a collection of long shelves, stacked on top of one another. These shelves are 175cm long and quite thin, so not take up too much space on the wall. They would also be painted white, as already white shelves tend to look quite plastic. Here is a rhino plan of what it will look like –

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On the top shelf will be my small pot seconds, followed 3 sets of spice pots with lids on the next one down. Next one down will hold the taller objects, so that the most visually appealing is at eye level, and on the bottom shelf will be the pewter objects, fruit bowls and business cards/catalogues.

 

 

Who am I? – Olla!

To get a better idea of who I am and what I’m presenting for my final project, I thought I would just paste sections of my Inc Space App as I think this represents the best selection of information relating to a business plan.

1 Background to your Business/Social Enterprise/Practice

Olla!’s name derives from the Latin word for “pot”. Ceramic olla’s have been making appearances in variant forms through many different cultures since man laid their hands on clay. A common use for an olla pot has been for storage, which is where the inspiration for a canister range came along. This has then expanded and Olla! has grown into an idea of a lifestyle rather than just an object. I have made Olla! in to a quirky, cheerful brand and this is hopefully reflected within its form, glazes and choice of materials. If the purchase of an Olla! product can cause recurring happiness then its purpose is fulfilled.

A fair range of Olla! vessels and storage pieces have already been completed, with the intention of expansion on product ranges before the end the year. Olla! is in its start-up stages, and can be fully operating by September with the aid of studio space and access to equipment.

Within the Summer, Olla! will be exhibiting at New Designers in London, and Art in Clay in Hatfield. This will give the Olla! brand and product a wide range of exposure, with the above shows being heavily tied to retail. The point of these shows is not to move my product into retail stores but to create an online presence. I will also be applying for various high end craft markets throughout the next coming months, including Rhwbina’s handmade market in Penarth which is being funded by the Student Centre for Entrepreneurship. After creating a significant online following and stock range, I plan to move my brand onto the high street market mid 2018.

2 Products and/or services offered

Olla! provides a range of collectable ceramic-ware that can be individually customised for your home through a palette of glazes, illustrative designs and a range of wooden and pewter accompaniments. A purchase of an Olla! product is an investment into a brand that aims to be a reliable household name, with an expansion of products outside of ceramic-ware released at the end of 2017.  I plan to develop the Olla! brand into one that resides within products throughout the home, and not just within the tableware or kitchenware department.

The current range contains;

  • A spice canister set in two different sizes
  • A pasta canister
  • A spaghetti canister
  • A shallow canister
  • A small fruit bowl
  • A tall vase
  • A short vase with pewter neck
  • A small sugar canister with pewter lid and spoon
  • A cup with pewter handle

With the same mould, but with the use of different clays and glazes, the range can be expanded without a great deal of time put into designing new products.

An estimated timeline for my plan of action for possible Inc Space residency –

May-July: With the degree show completed, I will be spending the majority of my free time making use of the Uni facilities. This will involve making duplicate moulds which will make batch producing more efficient; making several buckets of liquid clay slip so that when I return to making I can do so straight away as all materials will be ready; and producing as much stock as possible for the Summer shows.

July-Sept: With no access to workshops, the Summer will be spent researching upcoming trending palettes and forms, and translating these into designs that I can use for new releases.

Sept-Nov: Batch producing the already created product line for Christmas sales, markets and shows.

Oct-Dec: The designing and creation of new products. I would like to include the following items within the 2017 release:

  • Pinch pots (salt, pepper etc)
  • Ceramic milk carton for drinks storage
  • Egg storage
  • Dinner set – bowl, dinner plate, salad plate, cutlery.
  • Trinket boxes or small jewellery storage
  • Items for the bathroom including sink sets and toilet brush holder

2017 Jan-April: Release of new line, continue production.

April-June: Research into expansion of products outside of ceramics. This would probably take the form of collaboration between lighting, textile and many other specialised designers within the homeware field.

June-Sept: Production of new line, while continuation of old. Batch production for up-coming Winter holidays.

Profits earned from year in residency will be invested into equipment for other studio space, or a hopeful second year in Inc Space would be achieved.

3 Market Research

The target market is that of hand crafted homeware, professional but personal too. I would group myself with brands like Jessica Thorn, MUD Australia and ‘Host’ by New Norm. These brands have been made with function in mind but still show their handcrafted qualities. My main competition would be one-man brands that are also just starting off, with contrasting brands like Denby who offers beautiful durable ware for considerable prices. A competing point against brands like Denby would be that they also offer vast range of matching products, like I am offering.

The main trends that I have identified for this year is a new take on vintage colours and forms. The main palette that I have spotted is that of pastel colours, so I have taken these characteristics and developed them into bright glazes that line the inside of my vessels. The outsides are left with a contrasting 60s terracotta style surface.  I have placed these in various style kitchens from Country Kitchen, to grey granite, acid colour backwash to beyond and they have complimented each design they’re paired with.

The current value for the craft market is £1billion, and is rising with the desire to own non-mass manufactured objects. By keeping to the homeware side, I am tending to both the need for something unique and the need that object to be reliable and functional.

4 Why will anyone buy from you, use your services or show your work

While Olla! aims to satisfy current trending colour palettes, it likes to take inspiration from vintage styles within ceramics. The combination of the two, with an addition of quirky illustrations or complimentary materials like wood or pewter, makes Olla! a unique brand and hopefully a trend-setter. Through the customisable options, it is possible to find a product that will suit any room with any style. This ease of change of colour and function makes the Olla! product a timeless piece, evolving with trends but keeping the form simple and familiar at the same time.

Olla! realises that there is a desire for beautiful handmade products, but possibly not the capital to purchase them. With this in mind, the processes that go into making my range is kept as efficient as possible, so that the price tag of the products can be kept as affordable as it could be. Even with low-cost processes and materials, I will make Olla! products durable and to stand the test of time.

With these traits, I want to make Olla! a brand that customers keep coming back to and develop a relationship with. I want to make Olla! a brand that people can know on a personal level, with social media updates of how the products are made, insights into studio processes and materials, and then awarding loyal customers with newsletters of up-coming releases, discounts and more. The connection between the consumer and the product does not end with just the product, but with the maker itself. The consumer can learn about the love and care that goes into every Olla! product, and that it has only passed through one pair of hands to get to them (besides the postman of course!).

To conclude, I believe the reasons you would want to own an Olla! product are:

  • These handmade items won’t break the bank
  • They are strong, durable and will last a long time
  • There is a colour to match any setting within the glaze range
  • Olla! can be applied to any room
  • Each product is completely handmade, with so much care put into small details.

Photo shooooooot

So I wanted to get an idea of where I could place my products. Due to their vintage colour palette, it was important to know if they were suitable to match contemporary kitchens. For this, I contacted my local Magnet showroom in Cardiff and asked them if I could take some photos in their kitchen displays. They were happy for me to come down and do so.

While a lot of my work was unfinished, I went anyway and thought I could just move some stuff around to make it look as completed as possible. Results~~~~~

Much love for Magnet as they made my ceramics look awesome. Over several colours, styles and base materials, my products suited quite a lot of displays in the showroom.

Gaining identities

I spent a long time coming up with a brand name. I had a long list; Curio, Miscellanea, Cerameg, Olio, and many many more. I settled with Olio as it was my absolute favourite, and also meant “a collection of miscellaneous items”. I continued on to buying a domain, professional business emails and also creating logo designs. Trawling back through my limited blog posts for this year I came across a range produced by Royal Doulton; Olio. I had to scrap everything and go back to the drawing board. I came to a close on the name Olla, as it was latin translation for ‘pot’. An olla is also the name given to a ceramic vessel that has various uses without different cultures. With Olla being a related term, and also being something easy to remember and fun to say, I chose “Olla!” as my brand name. I could finally begin to build an identity!

I bought a domain – ollahomeware.co.uk and made a facebook – Olla Homeware (I couldn’t have an explanation mark obviously and olla.co.uk was sadly taken).

Screenshot 2016-04-20 21.44.00I did originally want to use my own drawings as a logo, but I realised that I just wanted to use a professional yet hand-drawn looking font that I could apply to every part of my marketing. These 4 fonts were the ones I drew it down to, with the top left being my favourite. The font is called Happy Fox Condensed and was created by an illustrator called Lauryn Green. Due to my collaboration with Lou, I’m quite happy to stick to the illustration style fonts and layouts, and keep it a running theme with a hope that eventually I can contribute my own drawings.

So I continued to work with the colour of the clay that I had accidentally fallen upon. While the outside may have represented a popular 60s brown, the inside reflected the poppy bright pastel colours of the 50s. While it wasn’t something that I was aiming for at first, I realised that I had stumbled upon something that was actually trending right now. Vintage colours and forms have been trending for a while now, and I saw this clearly when I went to London to do market research.

I have made this vintage characteristic a selling point of my work, and have mixed it with contemporary styles like the minimalistic design of the accompanying pewter attachments. With these findings, I have labelled this particular range “Very Vintage Valerie”, as I think the name reflects the quirkiness and style, and also sits alongside my plain white range (for subject module) well, which I’ve named “Simple Susan”.

Here’s an example of what my makers mark will look like on the bottom of my work –

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I love it 🙂 I think it’s going to look proper cute when fired on.

Decal firings

After Louise completed the majority of her designs for the surface of the canisters, I got down to editing and sending them off to the printers.

 

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^ Final A3 sheet I sent. Within the sheet I also sent some examples of possible stamps that I could have on the bottom of my products. I still hadn’t come up with a name for my brand at this point so I just used my own.

We’ve stuck to plain black line drawings so that it doesn’t take away from the colour that the pot displays, but compliments it. By keeping it simple it doesn’t made the surface look too busy, and looks good either on the surface or on the lid. I came to the decision after doing the firing that I wasn’t going to have the designs on both, but either. So you could either have a plain set, a set with decals or a set with lasered lids, to avoid overkill.

Although I bought through digitalceramics.com, due to the nature of the designs it should be easy enough to reproduce via the print studio in ceramics. When I have the time to get inducted in there it will be a vital part for the saving of capital for future production (that’s baring in mind that I successfully get the inc space).

I applied the decals via the temporary tattoo method and then sponged them gently to release the air from underneath. They were fired at 804, alongside another red-based decal from another student. The red based decal lost its colour quite a bit and came out a faded pink, while my decals came out pretty crisp and didn’t lose any colour. I can deduct from this that if I wanted to fire bright colours like reds then I’d have to lower the temperature to 780.

Results;

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Studio Photos

Following my most recent major cock up, it turns out that nearly everyone who saw my teracotta coloured pots preferred them to the original plan. After sleeping on it, I realised I actually really like the way they are too, as they look like clinical and manufactured. I took them over to the photography studio to get some quick snaps.

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Winners and Major Cock-ups

After the first pastel firings I tried again almost immediately. This time, I tested on the actual clay body that I had made into slip. These were the results –

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For these tests, I had used less tin and around 1-2% more stain. This had obviously not worked out again as the colour was practically non existent, but the body showed some lovely iron specks coming through, which I thought added to the character. After speaking to several people including the internal examiner, I decided to keep the specks as part of the piece and not try and cover them up with thicker glaze.

So back to the drawing board. This time I reduced the tin content all the way to 4% (I think I started with 7… it says in my glaze book) and increased the stain contents greatly – I think I even nearly doubled the yellow. These were the third results –

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The photo doesn’t do them justice, but I was in love with the colour. It was a mix of pastel country cottage and vintage, in duck egg blue, mint green, soft yellow and white. The body I used for these glaze tests was just a white st. thomas, and I knew that with the presence of those red flecks from the stoneware slip it would make the object complete.

I made larger batches of these, and then ran glaze tests again – just to make sure my large batches were safe. And they were! So I proceeded to glaze my ENTIRE range of bisqueware that I had collected over the past few weeks (and the entire amount of work that I actually had). I glazed the insides with colours via pouring, and sprayed the outside white.

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This is what I got when I opened the kiln today –

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Opaque, beautifully glazed insides with A CLEAR OUTSIDE? WHAT? The kiln overfired a little, which only effected the yellow slightly, but the white must have been sprayed so thinly that it came out CLEAR rather than white.

I am slightly (very) mortified that my entire body of work has been lost to this stupid mistake.

Forms: Thorn and Patterson

To get back into the artist research blog posts I thought the first point of interest I could tackle would be forms, and who makes similar forms to what I’m currently making.

My current module is surrounded by the cylindrical form – even though each item may have a different function, they are governed by the cylindrical form. This is so I can keep the range tidy, and I think the form is very commercial like in relation to the types of canisters and housewares you would find in a department store.

The first maker I’ve looked at is Jessica Thorn.

Jessica’s inspiration comes from old fashioned kitchenware that has kept its charm through its form and material. These have involved things like metal and enamelware tins -which have kept a similar form for over 200 years – apothecary bottles and old fashioned bottles. They are reinvented with porcelain, coloured slips and added materials like leathers and corks to give the piece extra character.

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Although the above shows not a cylindrical form, I have shown it because of the beautiful use of material combination. Ceramic and wood is also something that I’ve been working towards, with the added pewter on some pieces. I love this range because I think it is also quite illustrative – a characteristic that will make its way into my work – and the qualities of the porcelain make it look fragile yet highly usable.

Pictures : http://www.jessicathorn.co.uk/

Next up, is Sian Patterson. Although another non-commercial maker, I’ve picked to reference her as her forms are so cylindrical it is hard to believe they are all handthrown.

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LOOK AT THEM! Look how perfectly straight and smooth they are! Their smooth surface has complemented the soft quality of the glaze, where the two tones of hush colours comfortably fade into one another. Usually I’m a lover of brighter colour glazes, but the choice of colours match the forms perfectly for this range. Each piece is hand thrown, hand glazed and are all different. Through my excitement for this range, I came across a development of her cylindrical form.

Lidded forms! Although I’ll be making wooden lids, fully ceramic pieces was something that I am seriously considering after graduation. I would also like to make coloured glaze canisters too, rather than just white, once my glazing kills has been improved.

Pictures: http://www.sianpatterson.co.uk/