Sgraffito

One of the truly amazing things about going to class is that you get to learn and experiment with new pottery techniques. This one is called sgraffito, which has got to be up there on the list of things with truly awesome names. Take the piece below, which is a combination of two bowls (one larger, one smaller and upside down) and joined by a curvy cylinder:

trimmed

While the piece is still moist after tooling/trimming and joining it, a layer of slip is applied to the surfaces I want to be decorated. Slip is basically runny clay which has colour stain in it. When fired, the colour comes out. When the slip is leather hard dry, the drawing is carved out. The parts that are carved out will then come out white. This is the piece once the slip was applied and the drawing carved out:

IMG_0597

Once bisqued, that is, fired to 1000 degrees Celsius, the colour started to come out..

IMG_0670Et voila! Herewith the final product. PERFECT for little sweet things, like truffles and Easter eggs😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANOTE: All photographs by Araceli Robledo

Guggenheim vase

First of all, very sorry for my radio silence of late. I’ve been struggling to find time to post on here since I began my ceramics degree at TAFE, but I am hopeful things won’t be as crazy going forward. It is all a question of managing my time, and I am slowly learning to do it better. ANYWAY… I’m back! And what better than with a really interesting piece in progress I’m very excited about. I present you my Guggenheim vase, unglazed (can’t wait for the vibrant colours to show up and the pencil lines to disappear).

Guggenheim vase a

Guggenheim vase b

The vase is very tall, almost 40cm (biggest vase I have ever made). Being so big I just HAD to do something really special to it. Enter Pinterest! And this 1975 cover of the New Yorker by Laura Jean Allen. It was pinned to one of my boards over a year ago, probably waiting for the right moment to say “this could be a GOOOD idea”. I spent all of today researching the collection at the Guggenheim, designing the vase and having an absolute ball. Below is but one of the pages of my sketchbook filled with inspiration for today’s piece.

Guggenheim sketches

This isn’t my first museum-inspired piece (MoMA, Met, Prado), but I think the reason why the Guggenheim has been in the back of my mind these past days is because of the current exhibition in NYC: Gutai: Splendid Playground. You must agree with me it looks absolutely brilliant. I love how certain ideas resonate and linger in my mind for a while until I do something about them. Sadly, I always have more ideas than time to carry them out… Ah well😉

First day at school

On Wednesday I went back to school. But not to any ordinary school no, it was my first day at my Ceramics Diploma at TAFE. Look at this incredibly welcoming door…

Entrance to TAFE

Our teachers are a dream, not to mention the amazing facilities and ease of schedule. But the part that really got me was our program for Term 1. By way of a snapshot:

[…] Term 1

* Thrown forms with applied glazes

* Investigation into curatorial history written research project

Option 1: To produce a series of three cylindrical forms which explore the possibilities of joining thrown forms.

Option 2: Small one piece lidded vessels with organic forms or larger ovenware chicken pots. […]

Even if I were starting at Hogwarts I don’t think I’d be as excited as I am about this certificate. There was even time to get messy on the wheel:

throwing

and start making the vessels I’ll join together next week.

first pots of the year

Classes are on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and every other Saturday. Heaven.

Note: All photos are by Araceli Robledo

Tap dancing!

When I was a little girl growing up in Canberra, I really really REALLY wanted to learn how to tap dance. I’d grown up watching Fred and Ginger,

ginger-rogers-fred-astaire-swing-time

Gene and Debbie (and Donald),

Debbie Reynolds Gene Kelly Singing in the Rain

Anne

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and the great Eleanor.

Rosalie0095

However, being a little Spanish girl growing up far away from home, the only dance lessons my mother let me attend were flamenco, which I enjoyed thoroughly, don’t get me wrong. But tap… Ahh tap had always been this dream, for decades… until now. I am proud to say that I am a student at the Sydney Dance Company! Located by the Harbour Bridge, the moment you walk in you feel you are stepping into the set for Fame (minus the leg warmers, apparently they’re not that cool). There’s a great vibe and all sorts of people, joined by their love of dance. Just so you can get a sneak peak into what a class looks like, they have their own vimeo page, which includes a video of a tap lesson similar to the one I’m attending. If you are in Sydney and want to have the best workout whilst listening to swing (heaven?), then look no further.

NOTE: None of the photos are mine. The Swingtime photograph is from here, Singin’ in the rain from here, Kiss me Kate from here, and Rosalie from here.

Rose Bay at dusk

If you follow me on Pinterest, you will have seen a flurry of activity earlier today on my “Paintings that inspire me” board. Particularly with quite a few Raoul Dufy paintings added to it. And just like that, immediately after adding the images, Pinterest worked its magic. I suddenly had an urge to paint something à la manière de Dufy, and very quickly decided on doing a view of Rose Bay at dusk. During my first two months in Sydney, I lived in Rose Bay and took the ferry to work from there. To walk to the harbour every morning and back in the evening was a true blessing. And therefore, a perfect subject matter.

Rose Bay at dusk

I used watercolour and casein on Arches 300gsm paper. But if you want to know a bit more about the process, well, have I got a treat for you! Below is a little film that documents it all. To make it I used an app called “Miniatures Pro” and set it to take one frame per second. And as for music, it’s Dustin O’Halloran’s Prelude 2. Trusty iMovie glued it all together in style. I hope you enjoy the film as much as I did painting and putting it together!

 

Churros

I come from a family who loves to sleep and loves to eat. We all loved a good lie-in on weekends, except my dad. You see, his love of food was bigger than his love of sleep. So one of his genius ideas was to lure us into getting up early and helping him cook breakfast. And we’d cook churros, for the 6 of us, and any friends staying over. There was always someone staying over. But how do you manage to wake up teenagers early and make them cook breakfast? Bribery. Of the worst kind. What he’d do is he’d make the dough for the churros and fry one. Just one. Cover it in sugar and come to our rooms and make us try it, while still half-asleep. This is what the dough looks like:

churro dough

It was a masterful stroke, because he’d say something like “Ohhh I’ve made churros for breakfast. Come and join me”. So we’d get up, follow him as if we were under some sort of spell and then, then surprise SURPRISE. The churros had not been fried yet in olive oil! So we’d obviously help, by that point we were starving and our body wanted more churros. Image of churro being cooked below:

churros being fried

By the time they were ready, we’d all managed to get up and sat around the table, eagerly awaiting this feast. We only had breakfast together when there was churros.  This is what the finished product looks like:

Cooked churros

This past weekend I made churros for the first time since my dad passed away. A group of us got together at a friend’s house in Sydney. I provided the recipe, but he had a churrera, the machine where you put the dough in so it comes out in that great churro shape. And how did he source a churrera in Sydney? Well, he’d had it for over 15 years. It was a present from my dad as our friend would join in the churros fun like another member of the Robledo clan when he stayed with us all those years ago..

In case you were wondering, the churros were delicious, and we ate them the only way one possibly can… with thick hot chocolate!

NOTE: All photos by Araceli Robledo

Initials

For those of you who read designer blogs and frequent their enticing Pinterest board equivalents, I’m pretty sure the headboard below is somewhat familiar:

Otomi headboard

It was posted on Design*Sponge over two years ago, and like everything that they feature on their website, the Otomi-inspired pattern on the headboard became famous overnight. Handmade by Otomi Indians in Hidalgo (Mexico), Otomi textiles are crafted from cotton muslin and decorated in colourful embroidery. I think anyone who sees an Otomi bedspread lusts over it, with its luxurious embroidery and fantastic imagery. And it’s the latter that inspired me to paint in gouache some very special Christmas presents for some very special kids. The oldest brother’s name starts with an L:

L initial 1

His gorgeous sister’s name with an E:

E initial

And their newborn brother’s name also starts with an L:

L initial 2

I spent a wonderful Sunday with them yesterday and was happy to see an initial displayed proudly in each of their rooms🙂