Alison Thyra Grubb
“I have always been fascinated by light, in particular iridescent light and the way a colour can change in low or bright light. So when I tried lustre glazes in art school I immediately became captivated with the light effects these glazes could create.”
“The vessel forms for my collection are inspired by the stepped layers in bismuth and decorated using lustre glazes that contain powdered bismuth.”
Alison Thyra Grubb
BA (Hons) Ceramics and Glass
Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen
“My name is Alison Thyra Grubb and I am a Scottish ceramic designer based in Aberdeenshire. I graduated from Gray’s School of Art in 2019 where I studied Three Dimensional Design, specialising in ceramics.
I have always been fascinated by light, in particular iridescent light and the way a colour can change in low or bright light. So when I tried lustre glazes in art school I immediately became captivated with the light effects these glazes could create. One of the metal oxides that is often used in lustre glazes is bismuth which forms into an iridescent crystal with stepped layers. The vessel forms for my degree show collection are inspired by the stepped layers in bismuth and decorated using lustre glazes that contain powdered bismuth. The process of firing lustre glazes can give slightly different results each time making each piece totally unique.
I use a combination of hand making techniques and digital technology in my ceramics practice. The models for my vessels are 3D printed and I make plaster moulds of them for slip casting, so I end up with an almost exact replica of the 3D print in clay. The layered textures that are built up during the 3D printing process can be beautiful patterns that the machine creates. I see these marks left by the machine as a kind of digital fingerprint and I only sand certain surfaces on my forms to try to emphasize these textures. I finish and refine each cast by hand, and the wonderful nature of making by hand is that no piece will be exactly alike. I love being able to combine the precision of digital technology with the tactile qualities of clay.”
Materials and Techniques
“My creative process starts with a drawing which I then draw digitally so the design can be 3D printed. I sand certain surfaces on the 3D print so the textures created from the printing process can be highlighted. The 3D print acts as the master model for my forms which I make a plaster mould of for slip casting. I finish my slip casts by hand and glaze using lustre glazes which are reduction fired in a gas kiln, giving the surfaces an iridescent, metallic finish. This firing process is unpredictable and a glaze can give different results each time, making each piece unique.”
Awards, Exhibitions and News
Residency at Gray’s School of Art August 2019-July 2020
Part of Craft Scotland’s Compass Next Generation programme October-December 2019
In November 2019 I registered as self employed and decided to work on my ceramics practice as a creative business
Wrote an article and was featured in Ceramic Review in December 2019
Participated in Bevere Galleries graduate exhibition in January 2020
“Prior to lockdown I was graduate in residence at Gray’s School of Art where I was gaining teaching experience through helping students and working on building my ceramics business. I had hoped to launch two new collections this year and to save up enough to purchase my own kiln, however after the art school was closed in March my plans were put on hold. I wasn’t able to make ceramics during that time and as a result I really struggled to feel creative. I was struggling with anxiety and depression and I found it really difficult to feel inspired or motivated when I felt so anxious and unsure about the world. Doing something creative is usually good for my mental health, though thinking about my ceramics practice was making me more anxious. So I worked on an embroidery project and I took a break from ceramics and tried to take each day at a time.
It’s only in the past couple of months that I’ve felt inspired again and felt motivated to make ceramics again. I now have a studio space at home that I love and I will soon have my own kiln. I’ve gone back to the two projects I had started early this year, a jewellery and a mug collection, and I feel excited to make these again. My time off from my ceramics practice during lockdown was difficult but it has given me the space to think about what I really want to make and made me shift my focus to making the things that I will really enjoy.”
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