“One has to be able to see that it comes from earth and fire – otherwise there’s no point”

Lilly Larsen

Stoneware enables me to achieve my goals as a potter

With its strength, particular texture and colour tone, stoneware enables me to achieve my goals as a potter.
Artisanship, with its starting point in pottery, is fundamental in my work with clay. I readily acknowledge the tradition to which the craft belongs, and am preoccupied with simplification, form and function in relation to the characteristics of stoneware.
In order to achieve the desired iridescence in the clay and glaze, the work is reduction fired with gas at 1300°C, allowing the flames to bring out the nuances in each piece. Thus, along with the various decoration techniques and three glazes I use, countless possibilities are created.
Ceramics is a broad and exciting field with a long history and an endless variety of production methods and means of expression. Within my special field as a stoneware potter, I am still confronted by challenges and continue to enjoy my work.


Masking method

The masking method has come after the time at the art academy in Warsaw.
When the object has been trimmed to its final form, it is bisc-fired once at 1000°C, making it easier to handle, but still porous enough to absorb glaze and colour. Then the pattern is sketched onto the surface. Here, too, Sigrid Hovmand is very careful to make sure that the pattern suits the object’s form.
Next the object is covered with masking tape and latex that can be removed along the way, and finally colour oxides and ochre are applied with a spray gun. After the desired result has been obtained, the object, like the rest of her work, is reduction-fired in the gas kiln at 1300°C - that is to say, fired with an oxygen deficiency. The resulting decoration can either be very simple or highly complex, depending om the amount of masking and tones of colour used.


Inlayed clay - intarsia

Intarsia means the inlaying of another material or colour to compose the motif. Sigrid Hovmand lays coloured clay into grooves that have been cut into the object’s leather-hard body. The moment at which this is done is very important because the clay must contain the correct amount of moisture in order to avoid shrinkage between the colours during the following firing process.
The result is a precise, taut expression that has roots deep in the history of pottery and reflects a timeless quality rather than some superficial trend.


My work process

The stoneware clay (from Germany) comes ready to use, but still must be pounded and kneaded by hand before being thrown.
In some cases, I make my own blends of clay.

Everything I produce is thrown by hand on a potter’s wheel – using the same basic method each time, although adjustments are made depending on the kind of piece being made.
Besides my hands, other tools and implements are also used.
Close attention must be paid to the job at hand during the entire process.

When the piece has the proper consistency – that is, leather-hard (firm, but still moist) – it is trimmed, placed upside-down on the wheel and “planed” with a wire tool. At this point a handle may be attached or a design carved into the clay. It is here the inlaid-clay technique can be applied.

The pottery must be completely dry before the first firing.

The electric kiln is stacked. The pieces may touch each other, but not be wedged in tight.
Firing begins slowly to approx. 600°C, then increased to 1000°C.

The pottery is now strong enough for further treatment, yet porous enough to absorb the glaze.

The pieces are either dipped in the glaze, or the glaze is poured over them. In some cases, the glaze is sprayed on. Some models are sprayed with an ochre- and-water solution (not a glaze).
The glazes are comprised of different raw materials, such as felspar, china clay, quartz, chalk and oxide colours in powdered form that are dissolved in water.
The firing melts the glaze, giving the pieces a thin glass-like surface.
At this point the masking method - the spraying-on of colour oxidants – can be used. Brushed-on decorations can also be made.

The gas kiln is stacked with pottery and fired. The layers of pottery are built up in the kiln like a 3-D puzzle, depending on which pieces are ready.
The pieces must not touch each other.
This firing with flames is in an oxygen-reduction atmosphere, reaching a temperature of 1300°C, thus giving the desired colour-play in the clay and glaze.
The glaze-firing takes 14-16 hours, followed by an approximately 24-hour cooling process.

The firing of the pottery is now finished and sintered (waterproof – also without a glaze) with a 13% shrinkage from the wet clay.
No two firings are exactly the same and there are always surprises.
Finally, a critical analysis is made of the finished work and some pieces are eliminated. The analysis is then applied to the next firing and is also used as inspiration for future creations.

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