Willing summer into being with clay. Dreaming of new growth, layers of vegetation & vibrant plant life. I have been continuing with my sculptural floral series (these individual elements will all be combined in a final piece for exhibition in the late summer). And more recently, I've also been making some vessels decorated with 3D slip forms, trying to build lots of texture/layering with dripping slip. I love the fractures that the layered slip creates as it dries (pictured at top, left). Hope it survives glaze firing.
Slowly but surely, I'm getting to an interesting place with the sculptural work for the mentorship program. Here is a quick "bouquet" I arranged from greenware & bisqued elements (some slip trailed, some hand built). This week I mixed a quick batch of paper clay, using old Laguna Frost casting slip and some paper slurry (water, toilet paper, immersion blender). I've never used paper clay before, but have watched other artists sculpt with it, and I knew it would enable me to build & join the porcelain with more ease. I was definitely able to work the paper clay more aggressively. I treated thin slabs of it like fabric and cut it with scissors to create petals. These are just the first efforts -- blossoms and greenery roughly based off the memory of the plants in the floral nursery where my mom worked when I was young and where I was lucky to spend time every day (our house was right beside the nursery, so essentially I grew up in a flower bed...think 80s bedding plants -- lots of geraniums & petunias).
My second experiment was to create a hybrid of the Laguna Frost casting slip & the paper clay mixture, so I could still draw quickly & gesturally with the bottle of slip, while taking advantage of the strength of the paper clay. This allowed me to make flat components that I could sketch out and then slip together later on & build into three dimensional forms (pods, layers of flower heads). The possibilities of this method are really exciting. I keep veering between wanting to work in a very free and intuitive way, yet all my drawings/concepts are more uptight. When I went back to my sketchbook I saw the words WILDNESS vs. RESTRAINT and yelled, "AHA!" That's my theme, 100%
Pictured above is a quick study of what the original elements (just Frost slip, no paper clay added) look like when presented on a bold, painted wall surface (gauche). I'd love to create a whole wall like this, with many porcelain elements integrated onto a wallpapered pattern. Again, wildness vs. restraint.
Since I have resolved that 2015 is my year of creative & professional development (shouldn't they all be?), alongside the mentorship program, I'm starting an exciting new e-course tomorrow with Molly Hatch & Ben Carter: Think Big! A Branding Series for Ceramic Artists
Happy New Year, everyone! What creative goals are you pushing for this year?
For the past few months, I have been participating in a ceramics mentorship program lead by Linda Sormin
, and organized by Fusion
. If you ever need a serious kick in the ass when it comes to your studio practice, I highly suggest joining a similar program or group, as it will get you talking about your work, get you out of your head and challenge you to question everything that you make and do. Sounds terrifying, right? In all
the right ways. Above, you can see some of the questions we're trying to answer as we approach our work -- which will eventually be exhibited in a group show in September 2015 at Craft Ontario.
I've been craving a return to a sculptural/assemblage approach for a long time. When your main focus is functional pots (especially after the holiday show season), you can struggle to itch that part of your brain that wants to make things that are weird, grotesque or just not quite fully resolved. There is incredible freedom in working sculpturally. The thing is, once I realized this I ended up having so many ideas/directions to pursue that I was completely overwhelmed. I struggled to focus.
To free myself up, I started "drawing" with porcelain slip (above) by using a large squeeze bottle -- making floral patterns and quickly sketching out loose motifs. I have a tendency to remain in my sketchbook for too long, so this was the most direct way I could transition out of it and actually get my hands dirty. I loved how the elements looked all together on the kiln shelf. My first idea was to create a large wall installation of these individual parts (which would cast shadows) and perhaps keep the stark white colour of the slip, while painting the wall behind with bold, colourful patters. As my friend Michelle says, "More is more?" I think the next step for this idea will be to make a miniature version (with all the colour and shadow) so that I can see how it will read on a larger scale.
Then, the One of a Kind Show happened and my Creative Brain morphed into my Biz Lady Brain. I reluctantly hit the pause button when I realized I was feeling super restricted and burnt out... the exact opposite of how you want to feel when you're trying to develop new ideas.
Cue holiday break!
When I picked the work back up again, I wanted to model some more three dimensional forms (see above, third pic from the top): buds, blossoms, soon hopefully some twig-like forms. The bud forms are directly translated from surface designs I use on my functional pots. These bits made the most sense to me once I started arranging them as a group (carefully, as these are still just greenware). I can imagine a larger version based off of this maquette being really interesting -- what I don't yet know is what narratives I can create within these plant forms. One of my goals for this mentorship program was to integrate more of a narrative in my work -- perhaps by using flower symbolism
or eastern-European folk symbols (see Phytomorphic Symbols
from Pysanky). These are patterns I'm always drawn back to, and have layers and layers of meaning -- how to decode them visually, though? More to think about...