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Robert Franklin Fusion Ceramics

Robert Franklin produces a select range of ceramic art pieces at his studio in Bannockburn near Cromwell.  His works feature Raku ware, Stoneware and Porcelain. He uses the Saggar technique to produce beautiful glazes and interesting surfaces and there are several of these Saggar fired pieces in the gallery.


Robert Franklin Fusion Ceramics
Robert Franklin Fusion Ceramics - Artist

Robert Franklin Fusion Ceramics

The true work of art is but a shadow of divine perfection”. MICHELANGELO
 
About the Artist
 
"I was a part time studio potter for a decade in the 1970s, supplying a number of retail outlets. I now live and work in Bannockburn, near Cromwell, Central Otago, NZ where I have my working studio.

"After a long career in banking and finance my return to ceramics has been a very rewarding experience. Deciding to once again sit at a pottery wheel to see what happened released dramatic results. My knowledge and experience in studio pottery some thirty years ago remained within me in the head and hands but the pieces produced were like nothing that had gone before.

"I now utilise that knowledge to create works in many of the genres of ceramics including, Raku, Saggar Firing, Stoneware and Porcelain and I exhibit locally and nationally. My work is strongly influenced by both Japanese and Chinese early ceramics. A visit to Japan to the village of Mashiko, the home of now deceased Japanese National Pottery Treasure Shoji Hamada,  was a highlight. My work has found its way to Norway, London, Hong Kong, USA and various places in-between.

"My work is an expression of form, finish and texture, more of the fire, and less of the glaze. I am not constrained by the demands of production but more by what flows from the hands on the day.

The Origin of Saggar Firing

The Saggar fired process involves placing the piece in a container called a Saggar, as invented by the ancient Chinese. The Saggar is filled with various combustibles and placed in the kiln. There is no glaze on the piece. The piece is then highly burnished by a polished river stone. 

Note that the pieces are referred to as a “form” rather than a bottle, as they are not completely waterproof due to the low firing temperature.

Prior to the 9th century, Chinese pottery was made with coarse brown clay, dug from the land. The pieces were then fired in large wood-burning kilns. This process generated much fly ash that blew through the kiln and settled on the shoulders of the pots, then melted to form a natural glaze.

One day, the rural pottery town of Jingzheden discovered if a soft white rock was broken down into a slurry, then dried into a clay, it made an absolutely white, translucent pottery. This became known as the Kaolin method, named after the mountain where the rocks were found. Beautiful porcelain whiteware with blue cobalt designs became highly prized by Emperors.

However, if this new ware was placed in the usual kiln, it would become covered by fly ash. The solution was to place the ware into lidded clay containers, thereby sealing off the pieces from the ash.

Today, Robert uses Saggars in a similar way, but the Saggar is filled with various combustibles, oxides and natural ingredients. These could be banana skins, seaweed or even coffee grounds! All vaporise to give different fuming effects.

There is no glaze used and the effects are completely the result of the fire. When the kiln has cooled, the highly burnished piece is removed, cleaned and polished.

Robert says his Saggar fired pieces should be enjoyed without the flowers. The low firing temperature and unglazed surface should not be considered waterproof.

 

 

 

 

 

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