For this I have taken some time to appreciate a different material to craft with. I chose porcelain clay as I wanted to try and design with my hands again. There was a small challenge for this and it was that it would be a present for someone I am quite close to. Creating something for my mum seemed like the obvious choice to me, she has given me so much whilst I was growing up in the form of supporting my ideas, plans, and goals, for these reasons I am always looking to give something back. Porcelain has also historically represented value due to the time and effort that goes into it and I want to capture that within my piece too.
I started off with idea generation to find a trait/characteristic of hers to focus on, from this I just jotted down ideas of what could represent that. In the end I chose to go with her dependability, I understand it seems quite obvious that a mum would come across as that however it is definitely the one thing that I appreciate from her more than anything. So to move on from this buzzword I generated ideas based around it and the idea of a knot.
To me a knot is something reliable that you depend on, there are multiple shapes and forms for different situations with some being better for one thing and some for another. Knots are a sign of safety, we rely on them to hold our shoelaces together when we are walking as to not trip over them. The knot I chose to recreate with porcelain is the ‘square knot’, also known as a reef knot.
The reef knot is used to tie the two ends of a single line together such that they will secure something, for example a bundle of objects, that is unlikely to move much. In addition to being used by sailors for reefing and furling sails, it is also one of the key knots of macrame textiles.
So to start with I was just trying to roll out long cylindrical pieces, this took some time as I hadn’t worked with the material before and it took some work to get a smooth round shape. After this I began to try and piece together the knot, this wasn’t easy because as I handled the clay it became harder to manipulate. Eventually after getting the technique down I began to produce better shapes, putting more time into each attempt and finely shaping it with a small clay tool.
My first attempt is at the top left corner of the board, with my last being at the bottom right corner. You can see my progress looking at each piece from left to right of the board. My design changed at the bottom row because this is where I was starting to get accurate with what I wanted to produce, I added a loop at the top of the knot so that it could be turned into a pendant. I was really pleased with my second attempt at that however it was too big to wear as a pendant which drove me to create a final, smaller version.
I decided to turn the piece into a pendant after I made the decision to make a porcelain knot because I wanted to focus on the symbolism rather than what it could be as a gift. So the next step was to create the bit that is worn around the neck, for this I had multiple materials but I put more thought into its functionality. I wanted her to be able to shorten it or lengthen it if need be so I made a sliding adjustable knot. I tested first with standard string however it didn’t feel very nice to wear on the skin so I then took a few strips of leather from some leftovers. The leather was a nice touch because the colour and feel of it was good to wear.