Monday, August 27, 2012

The Ceramic Cross

I sold a ceramic cross similar to this one today. It also  had a piece of turquoise on it, and measured about eight inches in height. The cross  was a sacred symbol in many ancient religions, consisting basically of two intersecting lines.I think this history inspired me with  the shape of the curves that I like to use at the end of this piece and others. This  well known  Christian representation is a part of our culture and others all around the world.  
I  got into making the cross as an art form after my last trip to Mexico. There it is taken to higher dimensions of making the common uncommon.I saw them made of wood; ceramics; bottle tops hammered onto two crossed sticks. There was a total variety of how to take a known form and give it a whole new incantation.
I work in clay so that is where my imagination went. How to make something that has beauty in its form and color, and yet is a bit different?  I like to use the low fired colors because they seem more modern than some of my high fire glazes. Like my masks, the cross is fired in the kiln, glazed in the brighter low fires colors, and then given a primitive final firing to get that antique crackle look. I  like to add some decoration, or an adornment, to what I create.  This  is my style, according to some who know me. It's true. I do like to add an embellishment to make the clay sing out to the viewer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Creating the Mug

It occurred to me that my readers might be interested in seeing what form  that basic cylinder I threw became. So here is a picture of the mug I created from that straight up and down cylinder. 
Until last year, I hadn't made mugs in a long while. Economic necessity is a great creative force. When you look closely you can see how many  details  are involved in this basic shape. You have to trim it, always clean and re-clean,and  then add the handle.That is a separate pulled piece of clay with a certain curve to it. I like a handle that can fit any hand, with a substantial curve. I enjoy adding  a little decorative coil on the upper rim. It serves a function and  adds my  personal style. Then it gets fired the first time until it vitrifies in the bisque firing. Only then can I put on the glaze. I like a clear color inside so the liquid shows up.The final touch is my temperamental turquoise glaze. Always is a bit of variation in this color. There is also shrinkage, up to fifteen or more percent, to take into the equation.I like to use porcelain as my clay because it takes the color so beautifully. Since it is high fired, it can take the heat or the teapot or the microwave. Function in beauty. 
Writing this really gives me an appreciation for all the work I put into this most basic of forms. I applaud all makers of mugs out there! 
Your thoughts?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Throwing a Pot

I have been  throwing pots on my wheel for the past few days. I guess it is called that because you throw your ball of clay onto  the  center of the wheel and start from there.  A bit of ceramic terminology for you. Here is a picture of my hand in the cylinder I just made.The object is to take the round ball of clay and push it upward with your fingers to achieve the height you want.One finger is on the inside for support, the other fingers are under the clay and pushing upward so that the clay seems to carry itself taller. Usually it is the thumb or forefinger, or a configuration of both, that I use to lift the clay.  The cylinder form is where every pot starts, no matter where it ends up.  I like to make light weight pieces, so I am always playing a game with myself on the wheel. How little clay can I use to make as tall a figure as I want?  This is going to be a mug, so I will usually take a tool called a "Rib" to push out the inside and make a pleasing shape. It also will make the pot lighter, which I like.  
 I thought about how relevant it is to be on center while throwing and also in life. When I am focused on the present, the clay, or what is happening just then in life, it all seems to go smoothly. When I think about the future it creates an unevenness within. The clay can read this, and it resists. I think my mind, and then body, react when I go away from the now and into the future. Because of course, the future isn't even here, it is just a story I am telling myself. Stay centered in all things.  My art and life lesson. Your thoughts?

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Mask

Masks.Here are some  masks from my most recent show at the Andrea Smith gallery here in Sedona.For me there is something  intriguing, mysterious, and  thought provoking in creating these fantasy representations, 
 I am a traveler. In every country  visited, I observe indigenous people creating their interpretive  masks to represent their spirits.Thus  I call one of my mask series " Spirit Seekers".
 I start with the clay, and have a rough idea of what I want to create.But I do let the spirit of the clay direct where I am going.Often it has an element of surprise. Then I must glaze and fire the piece.Finally, I take it out of the kiln and do another primitive firing to get that dark and smokey look that I like.Only then do I decorate with yarn, feathers, and whatever else it dictates. I guess there is a bit of my spirit in each of my creations.     . 
Masks are a way to be secretive about identity. It does not even have to be a real one. Haven't here been times when we all hide behind a smile, a polite phrase even as simple  as "how are you?". What would we do if people actually answered with their truth, especially if it is a painful one?  Gives me something to think about when I go forth into this world.
Any thoughts from my readers?