During two long days at Loughborough last week i made some good progress with the paperclay wheel tests. The idea is to make a series of wheel casts which can be altered by participants to prevent the wheel from rolling. Paperclay is a material that i'm very familiar with, having taught many masterclasses over the last 10 years, however i've not cast paperclay in such a complex vinyl mould before. Unlike normal clay, paperclay doesn't stick to non-porous surfaces, enabling it to come away from a rubber or vinyl mould easily. More easily than i expected: i found i could simply press in plastic paperclay and 'pop' it straight out of the mould onto a wooden board.
I left one in the mould in the drying cupboard overnight, and when i came back to it it had dried far more than expected, which had led to some serious shrinkage and cracking. As this is paperclay i simply rewet it and left it to absorb and equalise the moisture before using it as the others.
I also made a complete wheel using both sides of the mould joined together as i felt that using only half the mould, although quick, looked a little too narrow and fragile. I then had some fun rolling these casts towards a nearby wall in the pottery!
The third wheel, made up of two cheese-hard halves, was so strong i was able to stand it upright and pick it up with one hand. It took three attempts to roll it so it deformed, which may mean it is a little too tough for the sort of performative piece i want to make!
The making as usual created plently of time immersed in a process and so able to think freely. I pondered how it could work if i invited participants to make their own wheel, how the making process could inform the 'destruction' process (deforming, crushing, throwing or rolling the wheels into the wall) and how this could work practically, given time and space restrictions.