Alison West Ceramics
My pots are Saggar-Fired hand-thrown porcelain. I produce saggar-fired unglazed forms. The saggar is a container in which pots are buried in combustible and volatile materials placed in a gas kiln. After throwing and drying the pots, I apply terrasigillata, (a very fine slip) and polish to a shine. I bisque fire to 900c and collect local ferns and plants from the Dartmoor environment in which I live.
I wrap the pots in the plant material with prepared fabric and place in the saggar which contains wood shavings, oxides and other organic material. Throughout the firing, the combustible material burns off and imprints of the plants transfer to the pots. I fire between 700C and 800C for 5 hours. The pots are sealed and polished and vases can be functional and contain water. They are not dishwasher safe.
The results are unpredictable and exciting, created by detailed preparation of the pot, the combustibles within the saggar and firing process. I work in the knowledge that the results will never be repeated. I enjoy the risk and varying emotional responses derived from the process and find the controlled atmosphere that produces uncontrolled results reflects life itself and allows me to be adventurous. I strive to convey an elemental sense of earth and fire,
contrasting high shine with cracked surfaces. I am inspired by work decorated by flame and fire and influenced by simple, elegant and feminine shapes. My pots also reflect the experience of living in Japan in a ceramics region. I do not consciously create Japanese style pots, but there is an influence.