Repairs and symbolism

Ideas of:

  • Mourning healing over time
  • Feint / changed memory left when someone has died (impression)
  • Items can become more special and precious after someone has gone even when damaged
  • the sense of someone still present (imprint)
  • Deep blackness of despair
  • Bone like remnants (all that is left?)

Visible ‘Kintsugi’ repair of smoke fired clay



Residual impression from acrylic knitted hat in clay

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Kintsugi is the japanese art of repairing china visibly with gold. The japanese believe that showing the repair explains the items history and adds rather than detracts from the piece.

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Grave goods

After my visit to the death exhibition in Prague, I have been considering the relation of grave goods to the work I have been doing with item 5 of my main project.

Clay vessels were often left in graves and thought to contain food for the journey into the afterlife.

Another interesting aspect is that because of the time and age of the graves the vessels are often broken.

In museums to display these they are often pieced together to give an idea of the original form.

I have started to reconsider the vessels that broke during the firing process.


Second firing

With a new bag of clay and a second haul of knitted hats from charity shops I made a second attempt at smoke firing.


I fired these in two batches.

The first batch didn’t work so well the fire roared to start with but in the morning it hadn’t reached the fuel in the base of the incinerator. The bowl in the bottom hadn’t fired correctly and was very brittle.

The second was more successful but I think that the clay was quite thin and meant that the a couple of the bowls broke into pieces.

Possibly not as successful as the first firing!

First attempt at hat impressions


Hats that have been created in the round


Clay covering over bowl for support, burnished at leather hard stage.

Fired within a garden incinerator packed with paper, wood shavings and salt with kindling on the top.

FirstFiringWebSkull like appearance with blown out indentations that look like treppaning. Really interesting colouration and the burnished finish polishes up well with furniture polish.


Synthetic fibres melt during the firing process and some residual fibres are left within the vessel. Also in places the synthetic fibre has produced a sheen where they have melted.


One of the pieces after firing. Very pleased with the initial outcome.

Of the 5 hats fired, 3 survived as good examples, I have ordered another batch of clay and will try another set.

Hats as a starting point

Rope felt appropriate for the bodmin piece of work, but for this the material itself does not add significance to the ideas or story for me. I have considered paper again. Paper has connotations with memory and writing diaries but again something doesn’t quite fit for me, it doesn’t feel complete enough.

I have spent quite a bit of time thinking and rethinking my thoughts. I want to use something that is reminiscent of life, that has some individuality. It suddenly dawned on me that hats fulfill my sense of this project. I started to research my ideas further.

  • Hats are often used to show our individuality.
  • They are used for protection, from sun and from the cold as well as hard hats for physical protection.
  • They look like vessels.
  • knitted and crocheted hats are created in the round – a spiral!
  • The saying ‘keep it under your hat’ refers to keeping secrets, secrets are often revealed at death.
  • ‘put your thinking cap on’ implies life. thoughts and memories in life that disappear at death.
  • to cap something off – to stop something, life?