Isaac Smart's

Come and enjoy our gallery which supports over forty talented designer makers. Open Tuesday – Saturday 11.00 am – 4.00 pm.

Ruth Gibson

ImageHandlerCAUIHWWURuth Gibson says, ‘Fired porcelain has a warm soft quality, reflecting light, and when polished, the surface is very tactile, which lends itself to jewellery making and small delicate bowls. I seek to enhance these qualities of porcelain and to reflect nature in my work. The whiteness of a perfectly round pebble found on a beach, the seemingly scratched patterns found in stones and the smoothness of sea-worn shells inspire the design and surface quality of my work.’

She uses ceramic screen printing techniques to apply photographic images onto rolled out porcelain. Her photographs include architectural imagery, pebbles, cobwebs, water droplets, shadows, the murmurings of starlings. ‘I look to capture strong black and white images with plenty of contrast and texture that lend themselves to this ceramic printing process. Often an image is taken as part of a site specific project, a response to an old building, or shadows of a dinner service cast onto the museum floor, which were taken for a project linked to the Wedgwood Museum.’

‘As a ceramic artist I have always been fascinated by the way in which ceramics has been used as a way of recording and learning about the past. In my current studio practice I endeavour to capture slices of the past on clay, combining photography and ceramic printing techniques.’

The selected images are printed on acetate before being fixed onto a silk screen using photosensitive emulsion and a light box. Porcelain is carefully rolled out into thin sheets, handling it very carefully at this stage, as clay has a ‘memory’ and will try to return to any crease or bend put into it during its handling. Allowing the surface to dry a little before screen printing the image and yet keeping the main body of the clay wet enough to still form into bowl shapes, is another careful process that develops with experience.

‘I find the printing process an exciting way of working; once printed, the clay can be stretched and formed over moulds, often not disturbing the quality and structure of the image. Alternatively the print can be manipulated and distorted, cropped or enhanced; small sections can be removed or added to create interesting abstract patterns on a ceramic surface. The possibilities from one or two strong images in terms of form and the printed surface are endless.

‘As the area of porcelain is relatively small in jewellery making, the cropped images become abstract but with an aim to retain the quality of print. Tiny images are then re-composed onto the printed surface by ‘sgrafitto’ technique or washing back or by adding more printing medium. Edges are carefully wiped down with delicate sponges to create that sea-worn look, and once fired to 1260 degrees, all the jewellery is hand polished with diamond pads. The porcelain jewellery is completed using sterling silver findings, chunky rubber cord or thin leather and cotton cords.

Ruth Gibson has been self-employed as an artist for over twenty-five years. Having run a successful designer/maker greeting card and handmade gift business for fifteen years, she went back to study at the age of thirty-five. She graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Ceramics and Sculpture in 2003. Over the last nine years she has been involved in Public Art, Sculpture, Project Management, working with bricks and ceramics, and has been an Arts Council funded artist.

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