Pottery in Bloom

inspiration, New work, Open Studios Show and Sale, sale, shop local, shop small, techniques

Each year, my pottery studio, Potters Place announces a theme for its spring show and sale. It’s a creative prompt that sparks ideas for me and my studio mates. This year, the theme is “Pottery in Bloom”, a play on “Art in Bloom” that takes place at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts at the same time.

Potters Place group shot featuring pottery by members. My “Pottery in Bloom” is the featured plate.
Photo by Dave Bradley Photography

During the time the theme was announced, I was beginning my second of two drawing classes in Newton; a class is a perk of being an instructor for Newton Community Education where I currently teach clay to all ages. I was humbled and frustrated by the place I found myself when I arrived at my drawing class this fall, but by spring these two teachers had lead me past mental roadblocks and set me on the path of rediscovering my voice with skills that I could take to the clay surface.

I began working with a drawing of my hand holding the stem of a peony as a self portrait. The peony is the flower that blooms every year around the time of my wedding anniversary; it signifies the memory of the transition into a new role of wife and subsequently motherhood in a year that my children have left home. The negative space around the image in white is the silhouette of a woman’s shape. The pink of the peony, the gentle grasp of the stem, the soft form all suggest femininity to me. I worked on these two pieces at the same time, starting first with the bowl and moving to the plate.

When I look at the two pieces side by side, I see a bowl with an image on the left and a ceramic statement on the right. The bowl is a piece you might hang on a wall and contemplate in an intellectual manner. The plate is a form and image interacting as one. An only a utilitarian form can do, it invites you to interact by touch when the surface image draws you in. The two pieces together are a metaphor and entrance to my storytelling in this self portrait. Other pieces will follow to create a larger collection.

My process for creating these two pieces began with wheel thrown well made forms with a handmade swirl in the center to emphasis the human component of pottery. Once trimmed and in a “suede” state, I use a pencil to transfer my drawing. The lines are carved and then inlaid with green underglaze. Masters of this technique are Kristen Keiffer, Michael Klein and Julia Galloway, contemporary ceramicists who use Mishima in their work. Space is defined by layers of white and blue underglaze before the forms are dried and fired to bisque. Glazing has three layers and uses the characteristics of a clear glaze in conjunction with other glazes to enhance the surface decoration.

These two pieces are one of a kind and will be for sale at Potters Place Spring Show and Sale over the weekend of May 3-5. I think either piece will make the perfect wedding gift for a woman transitioning into the partnership of marriage, the celebration of a relationship.

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Makers Day

food and pottery, inspiration, sale, shop local, techniques

Westwoimg_1664od Artists, (photographer Karen Cagan, fiber artist Kathy Zola and ceramic artist Lisa W B Walker) arrived at Powisset Farm early on August 27th to set up their stations and begin creating art inspired by the farm.

This was the first Makers Day held at Powisset Farm.  It included visual artists as well as music (by My Mothers Moustache), performances (scenes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet by Medfield Gazebo Players), food (baking bread in the kitchen) and interactive kids activities. All artists were inspired by Powisset Farm.

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As a ceramic artist, I am inspired by the vegetation that grows at the farm. I gathered herbs and other leaves from the fields, placed them on low fire clay and added colored slips. I love the way the clay captures the texture of a leaf!

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I found compositions to create into functional objects in my demonstration … some small dishes and ornaments.  My favorite leaves turned out to be a sunflower leaf and a tomato plant’s leafy vine. Other interesting leaves were sage, green bean leaves and parsley.

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This collection is still in process, but I will be at the farm with my permanent collection of functional pottery this coming Saturday. My work references nature and leaves; flowers and growth are important elements in my permanent collections. Stop in to say hello and enjoy this beautiful Trustees of the Reservation property.

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Pottery Sale ~ Saturday, September 10th ~ 10AM-2PM ~ Powisset Farm ~ Dover, MA

 

Community Outreach

kids, teaching, techniques

Potters Place is a not for profit pottery school and a cooperative studio for clay artisans. Located in Walpole, Massachusetts, it is interwoven into the community it has called home for over 30 years. Their mission is to spread their love of pottery.  This takes many forms from raising funds through the sale of specific pottery (most recently to benefit the League School art program) to going into schools with clay to enrich the students.

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The students who transition from elementary to middle school annually work on a tile project that celebrates their interests and leaves a lasting artifact. Completed tiles are hung on the wall and students are able to stop in and see them years later.

Working with the art teachers, Potters Place instructors provide real clay to students. Showing them ways to make their two dimensional drawings into three dimensional tiles with coils, incising, scratch and attach with slip method, and more.

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Adding color with glaze is the second phase where the students add details to their tiles.

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Parents are always interested in getting involved in this project.  We welcome them to the Potters Place studio where they put on the final glaze before the tiles go into the kiln.

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When the tiles are finished, Potters Place delivers them to the school and they are framed and hung on the wall.  The students are thrilled to see their very own tiles for years to come!

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Find out more about Potters Place in Walpole, MA by clicking over to the webpage at www.pottersplace.info

 

The Art of Wedging

techniques

Wedging is a necessary part of wheel throwing.  Thank goodness I love it!

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spiral wedge

A potter wedges clay by hand to force out trapped air, align clay particles and prepare for wheel throwing. Wedging is similar to kneading bread.

The techniques for wedging clay are called spiral (pictured above), Rams head (pictured below), and wire slab wedging.

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Rams head wedge

Rams head wedging is ideal for smaller amounts of clay and easy for small hands.  Larger amounts of clay are easier wedged using the spiral technique.

For those with wrist issues, like carpal tunnel. the wire slab technique is ideal.  Ceramics Daily has a great article with more information.  Click here.

Watching a demonstration is far more valuable then reading it, so I recommend watching these utube videos by master potters about wedging and preparing your clay: Bill van Gilder  and Simon Leach

 ******* Count to 100 with each ball of clay that you wedge 🙂 *******