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Ask The Expert – Foxing

Ask The Expert – Foxing

Q. I’ve got an old print that has been in my family for years but it’s got brownish spots all over it – I don’t know how they got there but someone told me they can be removed. Is this right? It’s really sentimental to me but not valuable.

A. The most likely cause of these marks is what is known as “foxing”. The causes of foxing are constantly under debate amongst experts. One theory is that foxing is caused by a fungal growth on the paper. Another theory is that it is caused by the effect of oxidation of iron, copper, or other substances in the pulp or rag from which the paper was made. It is possible that multiple factors are involved. High humidity or exposure to damp is also a key factor.

The good news is foxing can be treated with good results. The treatment Is very specialist, carried out by a paper conservator or restorer, and typically uses proprietary bleaching agents and diluted hydrogen peroxide. If I were to explain the entire process you would probably be asleep fairly soon – so I’ll spare you the detailed chemistry lesson. Let’s just say it certainly is not something to try at home!

If you are going to have it treated make sure you take it somewhere reputable. Check out the experience and credibility of the person who is going to carry out the treatment. If you want to understand the process, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

As part of our conservation and restoration service we have treated many old prints, photograph, maps and other documents over the years – removing foxing and other forms of damage. Our conservator has nearly 50 years of experience in this profession and was trained by his father so it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about paper and restoration.

Need advice on artwork repair or restoration – contact Andy or Sandy who will be more than happy to help info@fizzgallery.co.uk  /  01275 341141

How do they do that? Raku fired ceramics

How do they do that? Raku fired ceramics

Christine’s work –1st firing

The Great British Throwdown has ignited a huge increase in the number of people having a go at pottery, both the thrown kind (made on a wheel) and hand built ceramics (made from a slab of clay). In this issue’s Spotlight, we take a look at the firing process known as Raku, one of the most unpredictable and exciting techniques in pottery.

Like every profession, those at the top of their game make it look easy and here at Fizz we are very lucky to work with some of the most respected ceramic sculptors in the UK including Paul Jenkins and Christine Cummings.

Christine and Paul both use Raku firing in the making of their beautiful animal sculptures. Raku firing is a real hands-on technique with glowing hot ceramics, smoke, flames, and a big helping of unpredictability.

Raku firing has its origins in 16th Century Japan, but a Western version has evolved over the centuries and it is this that most of us in the UK are familiar with. In Paul’s and Christine’s work it is this Raku firing processes that produces the lovely crackle lines on their work.

Christine Cummings – finished Raku pigs

When using the Raku firing technique, the piece is removed from the kiln when it reaches a bright red heat and is immediately placed in a post-firing “reduction”. This means it is placed in a container of combustible material (often sawdust, leaves or hay) where the oxygen is reduced.

This carbon rich atmosphere produces smoke which then blackens the raw clay and causes “crazing” in the glazed surface.

When cooled the piece is cleaned with abrasive cleaners to remove the carbon before being dried. At this point the crackle lines are revealed and the piece really starts to come alive.

We asked Paul how long it takes to make one of his hares and what the biggest challenge is for him.

Paul Jenkins – finished Raku hare

“Due to the nature of Raku firing every sculpture is unique and each one, large or small, takes approximately 2 weeks to make. The first firing is a bisque firing (low temperature) and then I apply the glaze and fire for the second time. The final firing is the Raku firing at very high temperatures.

The worst problem is pieces breaking in the Raku firing due to thermal shock. This can be both frustrating and expensive when it has taken two weeks work to arrive at that point but that’s the nature of working with Raku.”

Pottery is a wonderful creative technique that anyone can have a go at, young or old. So, if this has fired your creativity why not try one of the many taster sessions run by potters all over the country. For one in the North Somerset area try http://www.clayability.co.uk/.


Exhibition Focus : JEAN PICTON – meet the artist

Exhibition Focus : JEAN PICTON – meet the artist

From circus girl to showgirl to artist, Jean Picton is certainly no ordinary 83 year old and this September we are honoured to be hosting one of her largest exhibitions of the year. Jean will be making a personal appearance at the gallery on 1st and 2nd September to unveil over 30 of her newest paintings and chat about her colourful life as celebrity and artist. This is a fantastic, not-to-be-missed opportunity to meet Jean and find out more about her.

“After gaining my art degree in 1994 I didn’t know what to do next, so I applied to the Digswell Art Trust for a fellowship. To my surprise I was accepted and it was here I experimented and developed my own style of painting. Up to this point, selling my paintings had not occurred to me. A chance meeting on a train, with an editor of an art magazine who was interested in my life story led to an article in that magazine which was seen by a major fine- art publisher. The rest, as they say,

is history!” 

Born in 1934, Jean joined a circus at the age of 14, and began a theatrical career. From this modest beginning, by the 1950’s having toured most variety theatres in the U.K. she became one of the famous Windmill Girls at the Windmill Theatre in the West End of London, working with such greats as Harry Secombe and Bruce Forsyth.

From 1970 Jean spent time in the U.S.A. and was a regular on the Joey Adams TV show Coast to Coast and from 1980 could be seen regularly on UK TV shows including Hi de Hi and East Enders.

Her artist studies began at the prestigious Central St Martin’s in London at the tender age of 60 where she gained a Design Degree in 1994.

Sandy (FIZZ’s owner) comments about the upcoming event:

We are so excited to have Jean coming to the gallery. She’s such a dynamic and vibrant personality – just like her paintings! Her work has already proved hugely popular and I think there are a number of reasons for this.

Although she paints a lot of flowers her paintings are not girly or pretty – they are bold and confident which makes for a fantastic statement piece. They are energetic and uplifting and beautifully finished with a hi-gloss glaze which really brings out the vibrant colours.

Depending on how they are framed they can fit into nearly any interior from contemporary to more traditional. And for original paintings, beautifully framed, they are very affordable with prices starting at £265.

If you would like to meet Jean at the Preview on 1st September please ask the gallery for an invitation and we will be very happy to send you one. Otherwise come and meet her at the opening of her show on 2nd September from 2-5 pm.

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