Norman Yap is a British, London-based potter who produces wheel-thrown pieces in porcelain or stoneware. His forms are simple but by using different clays with a range of glazes and by altering the scale of the forms, he is able to create very varied visual and tactile results.
Norman has recently exhibited at art festivals in Bloomsbury, Holloway and Islington, Origins and Handmade in Britain; he also demonstrated the technique of reduction firing at Hatfield House during the Art in Clay Festival in August this year. He has exhibted at the Morley and with the London Potters Association where he won 1st price for Best Thrown Piece. Norman is the magazine editor for the London Potters Association , and has become an influential member promoting the group in the UK and overseas.
Norman throws a small number of forms in different sizes, namely bowls, bottles and vases. His bowl forms are usually altered while the clay is soft in order to achieve an undulating rim to give movement to the bowl. Bevelled rims also draw attention subtly to the rise and fall of the form. Bowls may be footed or lie flat on the surface. Bottles are usually rounded in profile (achieved by blowing sharply into the wet form while still on the wheel to puff out the profile) with tapered, elegant mouths.
Stoneware pieces are made from clay stained with iron, copper and manganese oxides. These oxides remain invisible in the clay until the pieces are fired whereupon they bleed through the glaze and can create mottled or streaked effects and in some cases, create bands of colour under the glaze. Although the effect can be expected and controlled, the final piece remains unique in its actual realisation. Porcelain forms are left plain to show off as much of the white surfaces as possible. The sides are sometimes incised to create texture or left silky smooth and only the interiors of the bowls are glazed. The porcelain is often sanded after firing to create a smooth feel that contrasts with the occasionally textured glazes that Norman uses.
Norman has a gas kiln in which he fires his pieces in a reduction atmosphere to 1300C or Cone 10. Reduction firing is a technique in which oxygen is restricted from 720C onwards, thereby preventing the oxides in the clay and glazes from fully oxidising. This makes the colouration of the final pieces more vivid and exciting. With reduction firing, he is able to achieve blue green celadons, copper reds and a speckled look to the stained stoneware where it has been left unglazed.
Norman prefers to use matte glazes in order to let the variations in colour and texture become more visible without the distraction of a reflective surface. These glazes are high in feldspar and low in silica and these feldspathic glazes typically also add to the texture of the final piece owing to their stiffness. For porcelain, Norman is fond of crackle glazes and blue green celadons, occasionally embellished with dots or streaks of copper red sang-de-boeuf glaze.
We are delighted for Norman that he will be showing his work at the 'Handmade at Kew' exhibition. If you are around during 6th - 8th October 2016 it will surely be a great venue to see his beautiful work!