Wednesday, 13 February 2019

2019 ceramics workshop - one month in!

Last December I did some sketches of tree and stone imagery that I thought would be nice glaze-painted on tiles. When the ceramics workshop resumed in the new year, I was ready to do four small glaze paintings on ceramic tiles.

 When I was doing the "liminal" sketches of stones on the shore, I made the forms and colouring more complex than the more basic stick images.

With this in mind, I decided to paint the tree tiles first. Even here, I overlapped a few glazes anyway (reds & oranges, blues & greens) to see what would happen.

I was pleased enough with the results. I always lean towards Fauvism when I think of trees and colour at least one of them red.

Glaze painting is always a pleasant surprise as it is impossible to know how the pre-fired glazes will react with each other when fired. There is a certain amount of looseness when painting with glaze on a tile, but its exact colouring can never really be pinpointed.

The trees tiles were put away when I was painting the stones and I decided, in keeping with the sketches, to make the forms more complex. I did take pictures of the tiles before they were fired, but deleted them by mistake. I took especial care over the sand areas, as I did not want them to appear too solid. I glazed first with a bright orange and then, after the orange glaze had dried, took a smaller brush and dotted a bright yellow glaze overtop.

I am very pleased with the colouring and randomness of the glazes.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Phoenix tail salad & sesame soy dressing

To celebrate Chinese New Year, we prepare a feast that always begins with a lovely "phoenix tail salad". The phoenix is a mythological creature and you can find more details of it here. In China, the closest thing to the phoenix is the equally mythological and fearsome peacock-tailed bird Fenghuang.
I think this salad really refers to Fenghuang, as the point of it is to display the ingredients like a peacock's tail. The salad provides a lovely centre piec.

These are pictures from a few different years, so the ingredients and placement of veggies may differ slightly, but the overall effect is the same. Start with a bed of greens (spinach, rocket, coriander, parsley or a mixture) and layer slices of hardboiled egg above the centre of your plate. Shredded green onion, strips of red pepper and/or thin sticks of celery can be tucked behind egg, peeking out of the "tail". Slices of tomato circle the bottom area of the plate, and add sticks of carrot as a final touch. One year I used cherry tomatoes and also added thinly sliced radishes. Another year I included snow peas/mangetout in the mix. The exact placement of ingredients and the ingredients themselves can be left to your own imagination and preference.

The sesame soy salad dressing should be kept separate with a small serving spoon, to individually ladle onto the salad once you have chosen your ingredients for your own plate. The tasty dressing is simple to make: combine 3 tblsp soy sauce, 2 tblsp rice or white wine vinegar, and 2 tsp sesame oil.
This is a delicious and healthy start to any meal, but won't be a centrepiece for long!