Glass class

Whanganui is home to over 400 resident artists, and hosts over 15 galleries. Whanganui’s dynamic art scene includes photography, painting, pottery, sculptures, textiles and glass.

One of these outstanding contributors is glass artist David Traub.

I was quick to book in for a glass tutorial at his studio in King Street, called The Glass Factory.

I joined 6 other amateur artists for an instructed class where we used David’s off-cuts to create 2 bowls, magnets or broches and a glass tile.

Using frits we created our design on flat glass disks, which later David slumped over stainless steel bowls, coated in shelf wash.

The kiln is fired over night and your completed masterpieces are packaged and posted home, for you to admire and treasure.

The tile was an interesting activity utilising chunky glass fragments from previous works. We could cut the glass to our desired size and used a metal mallet to crush and sieve pieces to suit. We lined metal moulds with fibre paper and set to work.

My tile was inspired by the Hen Island view we had from our old family beach house. I was really pleased with the result, and look forward to working with glass in the future.

glass art glasswork whanganui wanganui lulu luluslists okoia open studio nz newzealand tile david traub

 

Potential investment of pottery supplies

Finding a good art supplier takes a lot of research. Prices can look quite reasonable online but once you’ve spent a good hour or so navigating a website, creating a cart of potential purchases, the freight charges can change the investment from a creative hobby to a financial risk pretty fast.

It felt like Christmas the day my first order of clay and glazes arrived from Decopots. A momentous day.

I had decided on 20 bags of clay. 10 wood brown stoneware and 10 cream stoneware. Both great for sculptural and wheel work. If you commit to 20 bags the price is reduced. I topped up the pallet with a couple of glazes and a brush, making the most of the freight charges.

Now that we have relocated to Whanganui, I am only an hour away from Palmerston North, the home of Decopots. While my mother (also a potter) was visiting, we thought it would be fun to have a little shop.

What I didn’t realise was that they aren’t open to the public, however they kindly showed us around their factory. This was such a treat. A behind the scenes experience.

We watched as clay was pressed through a rather large industrial pugmill.

We watched as ceramic blanks were reproduced in moulds and set to dry on shelves before heading to the kiln for firing.

Although we left empty handed, we would soon be putting our orders in.

Whanganui Art in the Garden

Pretty excited to be part of this year’s Art in the Garden.

Whanganui artists spent the Friday setting up their displays. Work included ceramic sculptures, glass ornaments, metal work and paintings. I decided on a bushy part of the walkway to display my lady sculptures, tikis and hearts, then disappeared.

The event is held over the weekend, with purchases sold as ‘cash and carry’. So hopefully there isn’t much for me to pick up on the Monday!

I took the family on the Saturday to spy on my work. Even though the weather was a bit dodgy it was good to see plenty of people wandering around the stunning garden venue, at QT Nursery on Papaiti Rd. The Whanganui Pottery Club were giving raku demonstrations throughout the day as displays started to show some gaps as fantastic pieces of art found their new homes.

 

Testing the kiln

Studio, clay and a kiln, it was time to get creating. I set to work making Christmas ornaments in star, fish and heart shapes. After a week of drying, I was ready for my first fire. Unfortunately the kiln’s automatic cone firing schedules did not work, and instead of stopping at 1040oC for a bisque fire, the kiln when all the way to it’s top temperature of 1280oC. This meant my ornaments could not have a second firing with glaze applied.

It took a couple of firings for me to realise that I was going to have to find schedules for bisque and glaze firing of stoneware clay and to enter the program manually.

With the firing under control I could now start testing my glazes. Having my own kiln gave me the freedom to experiment without fear of failure.

#littlekiln

Now that I have my very own space dedicated to my creativities I went on the search for a kiln, refreshing my Trade Me search daily. I eventually posted a wanted ad on the local Facebook page, where I was offered a small 60cm x 60cm F.E Kiln for $350. It was perfect for my experimental ceramic attempts.

luluslist lulu okoia whanganui open studiolittle kiln fe AOS art ceramic clay pottery

I enjoyed meeting people and sharing knowledge while being a member of Raglan’s Pottery Club however depending on the firing of a community kiln was a pain. I’d leave a piece clearly labelled for firing, and yet week after week I’d find it still sitting there patiently waiting to take its turn on one of the kiln shelves, while others seem to take priority.

I was still trying to discover how clay and glazes worked, and was excited at the possibility of being able to dabble without risking other peoples work.

I have had the shame of having a piece drip glaze onto an unfortunate piece below

I have put on the safety glasses and earmuffs to grind a piece off the valuable shelf that had suck fast by a thick runny glaze

I have had to vacuum the empty kiln after a piece had exploded due to trapped air

All my little kiln needed was a new pyrometer and a new controller… plus the electrician to install these pricey parts.

$1300 later I was ready to fire!

luluslist lulu okoia whanganui open studiolittle kiln fe AOS art ceramic clay pottery bartlett little kiln

 

 

A studio is born

So that our house functioned better for our rather large family, we decided to put a kitchen in our lounge (much to the disgust of an electrician who had come to quote the job)

The existing kitchen, complete with groovy Formica bench top and pale blue cupboards was located at the other end of the L shape building. This meant there was quite a hike from the dining table to the dishwasher.

We plumbed in the dishwasher and set up a trestle table as a make shift kitchen, while we went about searching for an affordable yet attractive kitset kitchen.

I stumbled upon Kitset Kitchen, a local kitchen manufacturer, who offer a huge range of cabinets, handles and bench tops. They can also install the kitset if required. The layout was easy to decide on, with plenty of options. The only down fall would be the sample size. When my bench arrived I was shocked to see white ‘quartz’ streaks through the grey laminate. These lines weren’t evident on the small card given to compare styles.

And a follow up call would have been nice.

The old kitchen was carpeted, painted and converted into our daughters bedroom and the old cabinets were moved out to the garage, creating a studio for all my creative efforts.

Lulus Studio
whanganui wanganui open studio okoia artist art AOS lulu

 

Throwing a Clay Bowl

I am inspired by creative people. I love finding one of these gems. The best ones go about their day, working their completely unrelated job, itching to get home so that they can dabble. If you are a creative person, you will know, it’s just so important to find time to unleash this need. Whether it makes you money, or costs you money, it’s benefits are rewarding.

My mother, Julia, is one of those gems.

She has recently reignited her passion for the wheel.

These creative tendencies are often very private and quiet, almost meditative for the artist. However, with their cover blown, they are often very animated and expressive when sharing their passion with a fellow dabbler of art. These people are often extremely humble and modest, and are wonderful people to know and to be around.

My mother shared with me her talent. Making a bowl on a potters wheel from clay.

Throwing a clay bowl
The clay is placed in the centre of the bat
Throwing a clay bowl
The wheel spins slowly while she gets the clay into position, and creates a cone like shape. She presses down in the centre with her thumbs to form a well.
Throwing a clay bowl
She slowly brings the clay out and up to form desired bowl size and thickness
Throwing a clay bowl
Water is keep nearby to keep her hands and the bowl damp.

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Throwing a clay bowl
Using a wire she trims and evens the edge of the bowl, which is removed.

Throwing a clay bowl

Throwing a clay bowl
She gently pinched the bowls edge to form a tidy rounded lip

Throwing a clay bowl

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Throwing a clay bowl
She runs a damp sponge along the inside and the outside of the spinning bowl to get a smooth finish
Throwing a clay bowl
With the wheel stopped, she runs a wire underneath the bowl to remove it from the bat

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She leaves the bowl over night to dry a little.

Then she places it upside down on the wheel to trim the and shape the outside of the  bowl and its base.

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The clay is put into a kiln twice. It is first biscuit fired at 800 C, then a glaze is applied and it is baked again, at over 1000 C.

Julia is a member of the local pottery club where she has access to a kiln, glazing and most importantly, other amazing creative potters!

She works from her studio in Whangapoua. Her bowls can be found at Luke’s Kitchen in Kuaotunu, on the Coromandel Pennisula and via her website juliapots. 

 

 

Preying on Pests

When Maori ancestors arrived in New Zealand, kiore ‘rats’ came with them. Maori valued these rats as a food source. They built ingenious traps which they baited with kumura. When a kiore entered the opening its head slipped into a snare that tightened around its neck.

raglan nz environment conservation karioi maunga ki te moana trap line pest predators eradicate stoat

When Pakeha ‘Europeans’ arrived they brought with them domesticated livestock such as pigs, cattle and sheep. Once a delicacy, kiore fell out of favour.

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Now days rodents and other animals such as possums, hedgehogs and stoats are considered pests as they compete with our native bird life for food and habitat. They also eat the eggs and young and attack the adults.

In Raglan Karioi Maunga te ki Moana are working to restore the biodiversity. One of the ways they do this is by monitoring over 800 traps deployed across Karioi Maunga and the Whangaroa coastline. It it through this organisation that we are fortunate enough to monitor 20 of these traps in a trap line surrounding Raglan Area School.

trap trapping pests eradication karioi raglan trapline

Karioi Maunga use the line to educate the school children, involving the students in trap setting, checking and monitoring. The information is recorded on trap.nz

This trap line gives me the opportunity to involve my children, ensuring they too grow up having respect for our environment and an awareness of conservation efforts necessary to protect vulnerable native species.

 

Mountain to the sea

Raglan is a global icon for environmental conservation and sustainability. Many of the residents volunteer in organisations that support the eco ethos of Whainagaroa.

Seeing a request on Facebook for volunteers to attend a trap building session I quickly jumped at the opportunity to join Karioi Maunga ki te Moana ‘From Mount Karioi to the Sea’. Being a wiz on the staple gun my efforts were put to good use!

Karioi Maunga ki te moana raglan trap building line predator pest eradicate

Karioi Maunga ki te Moana work to restore biodiversity from the mountain to the sea. They have a successful seabird monitoring program which identifies breeding sites of endangered native species such as the Grey Petrel Oi and conduct predator control in those areas.

Their predator control programme is extensive, managing stoat control over 2,000 hectares with more than 45km of trapping lines.

They encourage community involvement and provide advice, training and traps to landowners through their Backyard Programme.

The Karioi project provides educational programmes for adults and children. Activities include trap-checking, monitoring trap lines, workshops, community events and camps. Karioi Kids and Karioi Rangers is offered to local schools.

Their vision is that through the Karioi project people will develop an enhanced curiosity of the natural world and a love for nature.

Karioi Maunga ki te Moana

 

Some of the other Raglan initiatives include:

Whainagaroa Environment Centre are a team of dedicated individuals passionate about environmental education and building a sustainable community. They deliver education programmes, workshops and raise awareness about environmental issues.

Bag It Raglan are working towards Raglan being a plastic bag free town by 2019. They encourage business owners and residents to use reusable shopping bags. A group of volunteers meet each week to make a supply of bag using recycled fabric!

Xtreme Zero Wastes aim is for the community to eliminate waste to the landfill by 2020. With the help of volunteers approximately 75% of waste is being diverted to other uses. The Raglan Resource Recovery Centre is an inspirational and educational place to visit.

Permaculture  courses and workshops can be found at Solscape, where sustainability and holistic living is valued. Visitors stay in eco accommodation, experiencing a plant-based eco-cusine while attending their classes.

KASM  are Kiwis Against Seabed Mining. They are a community based action group who strongly oppose any non-essential seabed mining. Volunteers work to raise awareness of the prospecting permits being issued by our government, allowing resources such as iron to be mined. They aim to protect and preserve marine and coastal environments for future generations.

 

 

 

 

Destined for plant life

By now you should have all googled the meaning of your name, and the names of people in your life. It’s a fun way to see just how prophetic your name is.

‘Laura’, is derived from the Bay Laurel Tree which was commonly used in making wreaths, representing victory and honor.

laurel

I love that my name’s origin is a plant, and a very aromatic one at that. The Bay tree’s  leaves are leathery and stiff with a strong midrib, a lot like me!

And with my second name being ‘Rose’ its a double whammy for a life destined for horticulture! I studied a Bachelor in Applied Animal Technology, where I was drawn to paper selections including Biodiversity Conservation, Ecosystem Management and Biota of Aotearoa. I have more recently completed a Certificate in Horticulture and will be studying Sustainable Management this year.

My favourite place to be is in the bush. My photography hobby has me wandering through the thick native bush, observing the array of fauna. My efforts can be found on my Instagram page lauraflora_nz and in earlier blog posts. We are extremely fortunate to have the Kaitoke bush track at the end of our street, where we will be starting a pest eradicating trap line.

Moving to Raglan I quickly found Karioi Maunga ki te Moana, an organisation whose focus is to restore the biodiversity from the mountain to the sea. I meet with an amazing group of volunteers to build traps and I currently monitor a trap line surrounding the Raglan Area School.

trap trapping pests eradication karioi raglan trapline

Even my art work has been inspired by nature. My beach combing behaviour has me searching for treasures to embed in resin or from textures and colours to replicate in my pieces.

Thankfully my husband is also drawn to earthy elements. ‘Timothy’ also has a meaning of ‘to honor‘. We both strongly value these natural connections which we are passing on to our children.