Paul uses traditional yet environment methods to create ceramic vessels and installations. This is reflected in the way he creates and fires his work. Paul uses traditional once firing methods, which use less energy thus reduces the firing to 36 hours as opposed to 6 days.
In addition to this Paul create glazes using more environmentally friendly based material for example sourcing materials such as lead substitute as opposed to using lead.
The tulip heads are made in Terracotta clay. The artist kneeds a large wedge of raw clay weighing approximately 5 kilos. The wedge or ‘hump’, as it is known when placed onto the potter’s wheel, is thrown to form 3 or 4 flower heads in succession. Each head is cut from the hump and put aside to dry to leatherhard or green state, when it is ready to be sculpted into its final shape.
Paul carves each flower head using a potter’s pen, to achieve its individual form, using drawings, photographs and images as his inspiration (some from copies of the famous plates in The Temple of Flora that was originally produced on 1 May 1798, published by Thornton). Every flower head is different.
To achieve the lustrous glazes and rich colours Paul uses two firing methods. The first applies to the tulip head in its leatherhard state which is painted entirely with pale Maiolica tin glaze, after which colour details are applied by brush, and then the colour and pattern is fixed in a single firing. The alternative process involves two firings: Initially the leatherhard tulip heads are placed in the kiln and fired to 950 degrees to become ‘biscuit’. When slightly warm (around 100 degrees) Paul paints the first opaque cream maiolica glaze, and once the heads are cool he adds the colours – oxides and stains – that achieve the vivid colours. The heads are kiln-fired again to a temperature of approximately 1100 degrees for 2 days and when the kiln is opened, it reveals the spectacular tulip heads.
Paul Cummins is a fine ceramic artist with a passion for hand building ceramic pieces. He draws on nature as his primary influence. Stylistically his work has been described as having an authentic Mediterranean feel which incorporates bright colour glazes and drawing directly onto the raw material (known as sgraffito).
He makes unique, one-off pieces as well as large scale ceramic installations and his work is gaining widespread, and international admiration.
Paul originally studied architecture, Then pursue his passion for ceramic craft – creating and making through clay. He graduated with prize winning work at the University of Derby.
Paul Cummins lives and works in Chesterfield Derbyshire. His studio reveals his interest in natural world where he surrounds himself with references to nature, drawing and painting from nature to inform his work.