'Having spent 25 years making pots by hand from clay, I have been exploring how the skills amassed throughout this time can be transferred to the new tools and technologies that I now employ in my practice. Working with virtual objects in the world of computer-aided design [CAD] is very different to handling actual materials, but a lot of the same thought processes take place; the aesthetics of a curve, a sense of the volume contained within a vessel can be assessed in the same way. However, I was keen to see if physical making techniques could be reproduced in a similar way in the creation of a piece using CAD.
Rolling out coils of clay and adding them on top of each other to form a vessel is an ancient technique, and one that the majority of people learning pottery have engaged with. The practitioner is made aware of the properties of clay, how much it stretches, how much weight can the coils support before they collapse etc. None of these material concerns affect the making of a similar piece in the virtual world of CAD, but there are ‘physical’ limitations. In order to put this to the test, I created a series of cylinders [perhaps I could call them iCoils!] using generative scripting code. I then took a section of these cylinders and started to manipulate them in the same way as I would with clay, stretching and bending them into the derider shape. After much experimentation and numerous iterations, I arrived at a pleasing vessel form, reminiscent on classically inspired ceramics.
Once I was satisfied with the design on screen, the data was sent to a bureau specialising in Additive Manufacturing and the piece was manufactured using the latest Selective Laser Sintering technology. It was then hand finished. The use of these new tools allows me create objects that were previously impossible to manufacture and enables me to inhabit an exciting grey area somewhere between craft, design and art.'