Saturday, December 29, 2012

Platters, Platters, everywhere...

After months of work I am finally beginning to "see the light at the end of the tunnel". December has been a month of glazing for me with Christmas as a little speed bump along the way. I unloaded my first "finished" group of platters from the kiln this week. I had a few disappointments and pieces that needed to be refired but overall not too bad. I have some ideas for what to do differently and what to expand upon for next semester. I  am looking forward to the feedback from the critiques at the upcoming residency. This I am sure will change some of my ideas and give me new ones that I had not thought of yet.

"Road Wheels"

"Building #131"

"Building #131", Detail

Clay Stamps and Stencil

Now for a bit about process. Along with the natural elements I used to impart texture on the slabs I used clay stamps. Some of these I made  from my military map and chart kit. Others are based on military equipment and personnel. I also made a few barrel stamps that are suggestive of vehicle racks.  Some of the symbols I used represent artillery, rations, direction, landing zones and ammunition.


"Tread", Detail

This platter cracked which I expected since I really beat it up when I was pressing it into tress and the stone wall. I am going to put some epoxy on the back of the crack to reinforce it and to try to prevent any further cracking.

Cracked Platter detail


"Threads", Detail


"A817", Detail

Group of six finished platters
I still have five smaller platters to glaze along with one larger platter.  Then I will finish "Frankenpot" and the three other vessels I have been working on.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Oh Canada, Chewbacca, Xu Bing and the Mayan Calendar

Diane Landry, "Knight of Infinite Resignation"

Kim Morgan, "Range Light, Borden-Carleton, PEI 2010"

Chris Millar, "Sculpture 370H55V"

Chris Millar, "Sculpture 370H55V" Detail

Graeme Patterson, "The Mountain"

Graeme Patterson, "The Mountain", interior view

Graeme Patterson, "The Mountain", view into the mountain

Graeme Patterson, "The Mountain",  House on the left
Last week I visited the Oh, Canada exhibit at MASS MoCA.  I was quite impressed by our neighbors to the North. I have to say my favorite piece was by Graeme Patterson. As you may of guessed by the plethora of images! This work is a combination sculpture/video installation. The amount of detail and time to create this work was mind boggling! The tiny paper clip chairs, mini workshop and little drum kit rocked! Also a funny little thing was all the "trees" smelled like baby powder! Weird, but I kinda liked it!

 Other works I was drawn to were Chris Millar's "Sculpture 370H55V".  This work is comprised of quirky little objects all fused together to form a kind of floating city. A visual treat for the eye, the longer you look the more you see!

Throughout the exhibit I spotted no less than three sculptures/images of  Chewbacca from Star Wars incorporated into various works. Hmmm....interesting!

Not to be missed is Diane Landry's installation of windmill like structures made from sand-filled plastic bottles. I could of spent all day in the room watching the light play on the walls and listening to the sand shifting in the bottles. Very soothing. My only suggestion would be to put a bench in the room so visitors can enjoy it longer.
 Kim Morgans inside out light house sculpture is a must see. Texture, light and latex, oh my!

My suggestion is to get thee to MASS MoCA before April 8th when the show closes. As an added bonus if you go after Dec. 22 you'll get to see Xu Bing's "Phoenix".  That is assuming the ancient Mayan calendar is wrong and the world does not end on Friday...............

Thursday, November 29, 2012 lives!! (fyi...this is a metaphor)

 They say life is what happens while you are making other plans, well for me life is what interrupts me while I am working in the studio.  This is not a bad thing it is just the way it is. My life is very full and I am often called away from the studio for reasons beyond my control. Sometime these interruptions are good sometimes not.
       On Monday I began working on a slab built vessel.  My plan was to form the slabs into the various parts of the vessel (the foot, body, neck, lid) then assemble them after they dried for a bit. The end result would have few seams or joins, focusing on the textures and patterns on the slabs instead of how the pot was made. I made the slabs and wrapped them around the molds to let them set up a bit. I covered the clay parts expecting to work on them the next day when they would still be flexible so I could unwrap them from the molds and assemble the parts. Wrong, Life had an interruption in store for me.......
          I was awakened that night/early morning by the phone (never a good thing!) it was my Mother (definitely not good thing!) My stepfather had suffered a massive heart attack and was in the ICU at DHMC and she needed me.   My stepfather is my Mother's whole world and for many reasons I won't go into here the only Grandfather my children have ever known. He and my mother were one of the main reasons we moved back to New England six years ago.  Having lost my Father last year to Leukemia I just didn't know how I would cope if I lost my Stepfather also. I never had the opportunity to say goodbye to my Father or "I love you" one last time and will I regret that always.  So I rushed to pack a bag and made record time on the 2+ hour drive to NH to be with my Stepfather and Mother. Leaving all thoughts of studio work far behind.
       I will not go into all the details of what happened after I arrived. Most of you have been through similar situations so you know what those hours/days of waiting and worrying at a hospital are like. Besides, there wouldn't be room here to do so even if I wanted to and you really don't want to read about my personal life since this is in fact a blog about art (surprise!) After spending most of this week at the hospital my Stepfather has been allowed to go home. I am happy to say that his prognosis is good and with the proper lifestyle modification he should make a full recovery (Whew!).
     Now that I am finally back in my own home my thoughts return to art. I went out to the studio to see what was the status with my slab parts. Yep, they were dry, very very dry,  too dry to bend and too dry to get off the molds. In fact most of them had cracked as they dried and the clay shrunk! Zut alors,  what to do. Being one who does not give up on something once started I cut the parts off the molds and got to work. I began to slice the parts up and put the pieces back together the best I could,  joining the pieces on the inside with slip and coils. Starting with the foot, then the body, next was the neck and finally the lid and finial. It was very painstaking but I just kept on going, slipping, scoring, joining building the form up, checking the pot for balance as I went.  I began to think about how humans and clay pots are similar, the shared resilience and strength that is the core of both. Also how we name the parts of a pot after the parts of the body ie; neck, head, belly, shoulder, body, foot, lip, throat and so on.  Along the way this pot became something more than just a pot,  it is a testament to survival, to having something (someone) returned to you when you though it was lost. Although is was rough going I would not give up on Frankenpot,  this pot would live! And it does, as you can see from the images it is a bit wonky and has many seams. It is far from symmetrical but it is balanced and will not fall over. I have covered it with plastic and now it needs to dry slowly and evenly but with some care and patience it will be just fine!

Frankenpot, left side view

Frankenpot, right side view

Frankenpot, detail of neck

Frankenpot, detail of base and body join

Frankenpot, view from top

Frankenpot, detail of body and neck

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cylinder forms part 2

Four cylinder forms, glazed

Black Cylinder, with Blue cylinder in background

                      I have spent most of my studio time over the last few weeks glazing some of the various forms I have been working on this semester. These cylinder forms are the first ones out of the kiln so they are first to be posted about. Overall I am pleased with the way the layers of slips, underglazes and glazes work with the textural elements I have pressed into the forms. These vessels have a depth that a photo can not convey accurately. Although these forms are sort of a dead end for my AIB work I learned much from them and will continue to use what I learned and apply it to my future work. I may at some point revisit these forms since I am not one for saying never but for now my work is moving on and seemingly away from these cylinders.
Black cylinder, detail

Blue cylinder

Blue cylinder, detail

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sevres to Slabs and back again

Cut out parts of slabs

Using the Serves forms I had on hand I attached cut out parts from the slabs I have been using to make platters and vessels. I used cut outs in similar shapes as the on the historical vases. Since the  base forms were completely dried I used paper clay to adhere the wet slabs to the surface. I used a lot of slip and water to moisten the forms in the hopes that nothing will crack. After making the first form I started the second. This one is shown in the bottom two images. I am still working on it and have to add more orage slip to the paper clay.  It will be a while before either one is dry enough to fire and I know if this process works or not.

Slabs attached to Sevres form with paperclay

Yellow slip added to paperclay, front view

Yellow slip added to paperclay, side view

Form 2

Form 2, detail

Friday, October 26, 2012


Earthenware slab with stamped pattern

Red Slip on Slab

Slab after being pressed into fire pit screen

Wood covered with slip

Slab after repeated pressings into slip covered wood

The second piece I worked on I used a stamp I made of an A10 Warthog airplane and pressed the slab  into the trees surrounding my studio as well as the side of my studio.
Stamped slab covered with blue slip

Slab being pressed into slip covered tree outside my studio

Slab after being peeled from tree showing the slip remaining on tree.

Slab on another tree

Slab after second tree pressing

Slab on exterior of studio

Slab after being pressed into side of studio

Slab wrapped around third tree

Peeling away slab from tree, showing texture

Third slab stamped and covered with slip

Slab after being pressed into slip covered vines and stone wall
Extension cord covered in slip

Slab after being pressed into extension cord 
I began by making a slabs that had very defined stamped patterns. I then covered the slabs with slip and pressed them repeatedly into various surfaces surrounding my studio. I began to wonder how many times I could press the slabs into things while still retaining some of the original design as well as the structural integrity of the slab. I found that even after multiple pressing some of the stamping was still visible.  Of course I could of just smashed the clay into these surfaces and obliterated the earlier patterns/ textures but my idea with this work is to show how everything that the slab came in contact with left it's mark, it's trace in the clay.