Is your work needing a little energy boost? Is it feeling a little sleepy these days? Maybe it needs a little shot of caffeine? Dutch artist Wim Borst adds coffee beans to his clay body to create organic textures in his ceramic sculptures. Try it for yourself and give you work a little buzz! – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.
With the curved slab works, Wim Borst started to color his slabs with oxides and stains, creating a palette of grays. To this, he added organic materials. He experimented with broken beans, rice and other matter, and settled with coffee beans. Nowadays, he adds crushed coffee beans into his prepared, colored slabs. He lets the coffee bean slabs sit a while before using them, so that the beans are soft enough to be cut with the slab. After the bisque firing, the burned-out bits of beans create an interesting texture. Color and surface interact and enhance the form. These massive pieces have a strong, rocky presence created by the voids left by the coffee beans. The slabs with the oxides, stains and the crushed coffee beans are kept under plastic for four to five weeks; any longer and the coffee beans begin to rot, and the slab becomes unusable.
The matured slabs are then cut to desired form and size, and left to harden on his molds. He makes his own molds from wood or paper, and uses all sizes of plastic PVC pipes. The cylinder forms are made by using plastic pipes as molds. In between the PVC pipe and the clay slab, he lays a thin sheet of aircraft plywood, so the clay slab does not rest on the plastic. In this way, two different slabs are cut and shaped over two different molds. When hard enough Borst joins them very carefully with slip. A cylinder is formed; then the cylinder is cut at the bottom at a slanted angle, so the shape tips over. A bottom slab is added, and the piece is left to dry very slowly. The finished work is bisqued slowly, to 1760°F (960°C) in an electric kiln.
After bisque firing, the pieces are sanded. For his colored clays with organic matter, he sands wet with diamond pads coarse to fine; a long process. When the desired clay surface and texture are achieved, he washes the pieces with water. Several of these pieces do get some glaze, especially inside, to create a contrast. The glazes are either sprayed or brushed on, and the pieces are fired to 2300°F (1260°C) in an electric kiln.