In The Studio With…Steve Neville Ceramics

We are thrilled that Steve Neville will be exhibiting with us again at our event on the 4th and 5th August in Stockbridge. Steve has been making ceramics for many years now and his work marries simple forms with beautiful glazes. Here, Steve explains in his own words about his work, the techniques he uses and what inspires him.

“I have a studio in the garden of my Salisbury house not far from the city centre which is wonderful in the summer but freezing in the winter.  This houses my gas kiln, throwing wheel and a selection of homemade glazes plus stoneware and porcelain clays.

I manage to spend a few days a week actually working on my vessels but a lot of other things get in the way including computer aided design work which helps pay for my cava lifestyle.

I think my work has an oriental feel to it and I do enjoy looking at some of the finer Japanese and Chinese bowls with their glaze combinations. Having the gas kiln so I can reproduce the copper red glaze “sang de boeuf”, flambé or oxblood, a glaze of great antiquity and a closely guarded Chinese secret for many years. During the past 10 years I have refined my throwing technique keeping the vessels simple, focusing on shape, relief and simple glaze combinations. I want there to be confusion between the cast shadow and base of the larger vessels to give a lightness and an impression of floating.

The copper red and the copper blue glaze are the same chemical composition and in fact from the same bucket. If fired in an electric kiln or an oxidised firing in a gas kiln – then the flame has sufficient oxygen to burn unhindered and you get the copper blue.

If you have a reduction firing in a gas kiln the atmosphere has insufficient oxygen for complete combustion (more fuel than air to burn it). At high temperatures, this produces carbon monoxide gas, which will steal loosely-bonded oxygen from other materials, in ceramics mainly iron and copper. This chances the molecular form of the material and produces the unpredictable but beautiful copper red. The quality and density of colour is affected by the physical location of the vessel inside the kiln.

The stoneware blue-white glaze is a wood ash based Chun glaze. I use the wood ash from a friend’s fire that I wash, sieve and dry before using in the glaze. The colour in the glaze is due to reflected light caused by the glaze structure being opalescent, the minute bubbles and phase separation of the glaze as it cools gives an opal effect resulting in a vivid blue appearance, rather than added colour.

The finer porcelain vessels in the wooden boxes are all slip cast from my own moulds and vary from paper thin to fine. They have been used as tea bowls, tea light holders and make lovely presents. They have a selection of gazes including; copper red and blue, cobalt blue, metallic, Chun, and white.”



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