Christine Gittens

My work is wheel thrown and turned with high precision. I love the symmetry of the wheel and the ability it gives me to control shape and form. I use very fine clay with no added grog. After turning I burnish the clay surface until the surface is completely smooth.

The shapes I love to make most are round, like the traditional clay containers made in the rural parts of Africa. The forms are smooth and flowing, because it appeals to me and also because it facilitates the process of burnishing. I use a various low-firing techniques. The random effects of smoke on the burnished clay surface soften the precise shapes of my pots. The excitement and unpredictability of these types of firings satisfies my sense of the unexpected. It also relates to my African roots.

I like to emphasise the qualities of the shapes: small bases, narrow necks, wide, round bellies and flared rims. In juxtaposition to each other this gives my work a contemporary feel.

My pots are bisque-fired in an electric kiln and then saggar-fired using a gas-fired raku kiln. At present I use salt, sawdust and copper in different combinations in the saggar. During the firing it leaves the random marks and colours on the slightly porous clay. A specific outcome cannot be predicted or expected. After the firing the pieces are cleaned and polished to a light sheen. This protects and enhances the work.