Friday, September 7, 2018

The Newest of an Ancient Art

Did you know the oldest mask found was dated 7000 BC.?  I didn't . This       " Small Spirit" is dated 2018,  a  recent addition to my portfolio. It measures about eight inches, including all its decorative additions. I am having a show starting this October at the Jerome Artists' Cooperative .
 I enjoy creating  new surprises to display. I am now entranced with adding stones and beads to the copper wire I use to hang this ceramic image.They seem to float. If you look closely, you can see the  two blue beads I created. Easier to match colors, although clay is always risky. 
It also got me wondering about all the masks every where, which are so much a part of our world culture.
In 13th century Venice, Italy, masks were worn at  Carnival, perhaps to get around the rigid society of its time. Dia de las Muertes in Mexico invites the Calveras, or skull, honoring the dead and acknowledging that it will visit us all at one point. Africa has long been a source of these images. In China they show up at the celebration to bring in the new Year.Masks are used for protection;disguise; ritual, and entertainment, and come in all sizes and  materials.
 My passion is clay, and certainly in my travels I have seen others who use this medium. I started making the miniature size because they seemed so detailed and yet so ...small. Something you can even hold in your hand. Surely there is a space in everyone's life for something so petit and yet intriguing?

Friday, August 10, 2018

Studio Art

Here I am in my clay studio, in Sedona, AZ.  Behind me are the shelves with my ceramics at various stages of completion. In my hands is one of my miniature masks in its       " green ware form." What that means is I am dealing with just dried clay in a shape that can break if I hold it wrong, or use a tool incorrectly. It is in its most fragile state now. Here's  where the touch of experience comes in, or tries not to. 
Next job: put it into the kiln and low fire to the bisque stage. This actually comes from the term used hundreds of years ago by the British potteries, back when everything was totally carried out  by hand. Once fired, the clay would have the consistency of a biscuit.
  It is now more difficult to break, hence easier to handle, and able to take glaze.That's an important step toward completion. To my right is the mask that has had its purple glaze and awaits the final firing. As you can see, it is white. After firing, it turns dark, and the color stand out . Native American in the southwest  make their pottery in a similar style.
Then it gets complicated. I need Lots of Time for the assemblage: copper wire wrapped , then gently covered with yarn ; bent finger ; leather backing, ;  burnt fingers on hot glue ; find handmade bead to decorate, Or I have to make it! and finally, Give a hair cut. 
The Art of the studio, and the studio.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Beach Creativity

 Beach Creativity is a good theme for all artists. For me this  is going to the beach for a week in the hot summer days of Sedona, AZ. Here I am in California,   mesmerized by the hypnotic quality of the endless waves. They start way out under the sea, then crash in by the shore, engaging all my senses. 
You see it. You can smell it, and certainly you can watch it endlessly. 
 It is also finding the perfect wave, and riding into shore on my trusty boogie board. Hopefully I don't wipe out too badly, step on a sting ray, or swallow the ocean. Then it is a good run. 
Why do I call it Beach creativity? For one thing, you focus on the "now" right in front of you, as you must when starting into your creative work. Also, I think we all need a break, a vacation  from living  in our minds. These sights and sounds often help forget all the " shoulds " we tell ourselves to be doing. We  are only present in the nature before us.
And finally there seems to be clearing of the mind , a readiness to go on, when this beach is only a memory. Is there inspiration drifting in my mind as I return to my ceramics or calligraphy ? I hope so. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Mug That is Really a Cup

I just completed these porcelain  mugs that have no handles. So would they be called cups?
I think so. Japanese tea cups traditionally have no handles. This is the shape and design of my high fired   mountain mugs that have handles. My turquoise glaze and hand carved design of the  red rocks I see outside of my studio are my trademark.  The stain is the same iron oxide that makes our hills reddish in color. A true Sedona experience. 
The  client  request was to have no handles. This is someone who likes to feel the warmth of  the liquid within; who  wants to be a part of the enjoyment of the drink they are having at that time. 
I like to make a round, organic shape when I am throwing this style vessel . I do want the hands to fit around the cup . Feel, as well as shape has always been a factor in my clay work. I do a lot of hand building but this is really my wheel thrown style for the mug/ cup. So it was a fun adventure to make a mug that is really a cup.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Birds in the Air, and on the Wall

The birds are in the air now, but this one is hanging on a gallery wall here in Sedona, AZ., where I live and have my studio.
It is part of my "Birdman " series of miniature ceramic masks. It measures around 5 inches tall- fits in the palm of your hand, if you so desire. Much less likely to fly away than the real one.
I started  making my smaller masks some time ago. I love working big, yet  everyone seems to have too many larger items on their wall.  I enjoy creating an item that can fit in the palm of your hand, or find a tiny wall where they could "perch". People seem to be drawn to birds, as I am. So this seemed a good art piece  for springtime.
I create these creatures from porcelain clay, my preference for all things ceramics. However, I want the bright colors and contrast with the dark background. Hence, this little guy is fired at a lower temperature, and then goes into the primitive firing with combustibles.
After that, I make the hanger,  and decorate with feathers. Since birds naturally molt, I get the colorful ones from my friend with an aviary.
Now my customer can look at birds in the sky, or maybe on their own walls. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Here is another side of my creative brain, and hands, and thoughts...
It is my latest  ceramic sculpture entitled "What's on Your Mind". It was recently in a show held at the Sedona Arts Center, here in Sedona, Arizona.
Standing  almost a foot tall, you see a pleasant looking, glazed woman's head,  with a wee person sitting there.
This little celadon green figure, a female by anatomy, has her tiny feet dangling into a lovely, purple colored pool. Artistic license on my part. Who knows what colors are inside our head? 
What inspired me was that little voice that talks to me.  It can  give me  good advice, or not.
In Sanskrit it is called the Citta Vritti, which translates to mind chatter. I think this is a universal condition, so I decided to interpret this in my medium of clay. I chose to use low fire glazes for the mood they set.
  As I  create, the more I enjoy art that makes me, and others,  smile. Then perhaps it makes us interpret things in a new way. So I would say to you as you look at my art  "What is on Your mind ? "