Material Behaviour

Material Behaviour

MA Art and Material Histories
City and Guilds of London Art School

Wednesday 2nd June, 2021

Workshop at Rochester Square Ceramic studio in Camden. A day working with CLAY. Starting from a position of  ‘not knowing’ we will explore without boundaries the potential of this material. Tearing, Pushing, PinchingPulling, Dropping and Pressing to generate shape, form and ideas.

We will use different processes - hand building, extruding, casting etc to challenge the material and its behaviour, and also our own behaviour! Then how to construct into one collaborative piece.

We will make things in different ways - quick direct actions, using our hands, bodies and tools  - no planning - let the clay direct you - spend time experiencing the material - feel - manipulate - leave to chance - such as to drop, crack, throw.... Slowing down and working in silence.

Experiencing the material qualities of clay.

  • Using clay from a position of  ‘not knowing’.
  • to challenge the material and its behaviour, and our own behaviour.
  • Spend time exploring the clay – touch, smell, sight.
  • Explore its breaking points – to crack, to split, to collapse. Push to limits.
  • What is the tipping point when clay collapses/breaks. E.g. How tall, narrow, long can it go before collapsing.
  • How do our actions change the material – to do something fast or slowly.
  • What can different processes achieve in their unique way. E.g. strength of a slab, coil, extruded coil.
  • To make without a final goal, to allow the material to generate ideas. Respond to material – rather than imposing ideas on it.


  1. Take a handful/ball of clay and squeeze into a long shape – see how long you can make it without allowing the clay to touch/be supported by anything. Work SLOWLY.
  1. Make a column – to see how high you can go. Fix base to floor or table and build up.
  1. Roll out a slab of clay, then only working from underneath/behind create a form. Stroking/pushing up from underneath (can’t see your hands).
  1. Take a lump of clay and using smaller bits to build up - cover a part of your body with clay and then remove/pull body out/away from clay - see what occurs.
  1. Take a small ball of clay then just by pinching make a shape
  1. Take a plaster mould to push clay into by rolling out coils to feed into the mould. Remove from mould then tear apart.
    1. Make a work/form/shape that includes all of the following:
    • Dropping
    • Tearing
    • Pushing
    • Pulling
    • Pinching
    • Pressing

    At the end - Join all parts of everyone’s work together - cut into, squash, reform etc – EXPLORE intuitively…