Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New directions in clay

This past year hasn't given me a lot of time for veering off in new directions, trying new things and gaining new inspirations. It's been a lot about making my 'trademark' designs of Poppies and Ginko stems and shipping them off to galleries and shops or for shows as soon as they've been made. Which is good, don't get me wrong, but as an artist at heart, I have been craving new experiments, trying things for my own inner satisfaction, not necessarily for the satisfaction of the next sale. Since there is always a reason behind everything I try, I thought I'd give you the background before these pots have even gotten in the kiln for their first firing!

Some background: Technical
A couple of years ago I had the privilege to attend a 2 day workshop with Paul Scott, the author of Ceramics and Print. It was an inspiring workshop with some hands-on approaches to printmaking and clay. I was excited about trying some of his techniques out in the studio, but with my current work evolving nicely, I set his book aside for another time. I was feeling like that time had come again, and I have been wanting to explore the monoprint technique with clay. For the most part this technique seems to work best on flat, rolled out clay where you can press down your print and it nicely adheres itself to the clay in a clean way. My way involved some newly trimmed vessel/vase forms out of this very white, translucent porcelain I decided to try a box of (a new clay body is always a good reason to try something out of the ordinary with). Using only stain and a little water brushed onto a smooth surface, I left it to dry while I drew my inspirational Dutch Motifs onto the smooth side of tissue paper. Gently placing the tissue onto the now dried layer of stain I redrew the pattern with a pencil. When you lift off the tissue, the drawn line appears underneath with the stain and you can transfer it onto a damp piece of clay! I found it helpful to use a scraper over the tissue, and although my lines didn't transfer on perfectly, there is something really fresh about the drawing on the clay.

Some background: Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Art Book
I have a great Aunt who was a potter living and working in Ontario. Years ago when she found out that I was taking a ceramics class at college, she started shipping me supplies, books and even a wheel that she didn't need any more in order to inspire me to keep at it. I still use several tools that she sent me on a daily basis. One book I have from her is called Pennsylvania Dutch American Folk Art and it's filled with images of furniture, quilts, tin crafts, pottery, and etched glass, along with these beautiful and simple motifs of animals, flowers, people and designs. Also in the book are drawings my aunt made of some of these motifs or patterns that she was planning on putting on her own pottery. My great aunt phoned me recently, just to talk pottery with me. She lives in a care home and is no longer mobile, but her passion for pots is still just as strong.

I'm hoping to put these pots in the kiln and will glaze them (pretty minimally- probably just my celadon glaze on the inside and over the edge and either clear on the bottom or unglazed) over the next week. Will post the results later, but as always, appreciate your thoughts and feed-back!


Unknown said...

Oh this is very exciting! Thank you for the image transfer tip. I love the motifs you chose and can't wait to see the finished product! ;)

jules said...

These are really sweet, I love that the hand drawn quality of the lines really comes through.

I've also inherited lots of supplies from my grandparents and great aunts and uncles, and I have to say that I probably won't be doing what I'm doing without their encouragement. It's so nice that your aunt is able to continue to work in ceramics vicariously through you!