As shown above, each piece is first thrown as a symmetrical vessel on the wheel. (In this case I have thrown a double walled vessel- this is done by centring one large piece of clay on the wheel, then dividing the clay so I can pull up a small vessel on the inside and then a larger one outside, but they are both attached and one piece).
Once thinned out and smoothed, I then alter the form using my fingers, sponges or a tool, to transform the shape, adding movement to give it a more sculptural look.
Once leather hard, the base is trimmed and the rest of the shaping takes place. Generally I first draw where I will cut out and carve, working with the new shape as a guideline. I work with the clay in a similar way than I do with wood; carving and sculpting with the grain to enhance its natural beauty. With clay, there is no obvious grain to follow, so I work with the flow of the form I have created, drawing form my inspirations in nature to complete it.
Each piece then goes on its own journey of refinement; smoothing, sanding, and spraying on different shades of underglazes, before being bisque fired. The works are then cleaned and sanded if needed, glazed on either the internal or external surface, and then the opposite surface is resprayed with multiple coats and shades of either underglaze colours or mat glazes. They are then high fired to 1280° c, 1300 for Southern Ice Porcelain.
Each piece comes out of the second firing looking quite different to what it did originally. The works shrink in size, up to 15% and can also warp- the more I carve away from the piece, the more movement is likely to occur during firing. The glaze colours also come out a lot brighter.
As seen in the first series of images, the image on the right is before firing, and the image bellow is once it is finished.
This particular piece was done in collaboration with my father, Nis Wichtermann, who created the carved olive stump. My piece is the Olive Blossom on top.
It was purchased by Mayor Logan Howlett at the Show Off 7 Exhibition, May 2011