I am reminded of the “power of she” every year when I steal away for the weekend with my childhood girlfriends. This year, we included a trip to the Peabody Essex Museum to see the exhibit of Empresses of China’s Forbidden City. I was immediately drawn into the lives of these women and as curator Daisy Yiyou Wang said, “the broader reflection on the position of women in society and a sense of commonality and connection across time and cultures”
When I viewed the exhibit, I was already working on my spring collection. The peony was central to my theme. From the exhibit, I learned that Empress Dowager Cixi favored the peony, known as the “king of all flowers” and the flower of China, because the bloom signifies beauty and prosperity.
I found myself reflecting on women and the power of she. My spring collection widened as I chose an image that would live on and in the surface of my wheel thrown vessels and gave a second dimension to my collection.
The Pottery in Bloom collection and the Power of She collection become my spring collection together. Women have their own stories, shared in the company of other women. The power of she collectively creates strong, beautiful, feminine women who won’t be forgotten as these empresses might have been. The symbol of the peony bloom reminds us of their stories and of our own.
This collection will make its debut this weekend at Potters Place Spring Show and Sale, May 3-5. It is a small and intricate collection that begs to be touched as well as pondered intellectually.
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.
Below are pictures of my pottery next to the source of inspiration.
If you are interested in purchasing pottery from me and are unable to visit me at the Potters Place show and sale over the weekend of May 3rd – 5th, please email me to discuss additional options for purchase.
Making clay baskets can be complex forms to create. They are born on the potter’s wheel, the place where I do my best thinking, as small shapes that begin as bowls and then transform into objects of whimsey. The rim of the pot becomes a place to alter: roll it, split it, cut it, pinch it … each action creates a different result.
Once the wheel thrown pieces are trimmed or finished, hand pulled handles are added to each piece. The shape of the basket determines where the handle is placed in order to create a functional form.
When the clay is still malleable, I take the opportunity to add decoration to the surface. Handmade, found and manufactured stamps are added to make each piece unique.
Once bone dry, underglaze colors are added to “pop” the pieces. These one of a kind baskets are now ready to head into the kiln where they will be fired to cone 06 and then be ready to hold glaze.
I decided on a satiny white liner and an opal glaze to emphasize the underglaze colors. One characteristic of the opal glaze is its movement; it can drag or pull the color down the pot that is vertical. I use this knowledge to create the effect I am looking for. The baskets head back into a kiln and are fired to cone 6.
The baskets are now completed pieces of pottery. They are ready to make their way out into the world as useful and beautiful handmade objects.
The turn out was great! Creative individuals from many different fields were in attendance to hear Tricia. It was the third workshop I had participated in with Tricia and it was still packed with new and innovated ideas. She is a fantastic speaker.
Session takeaways were: understanding your brand, the importance of a website, strategies to drive customers to your product or service, and marketing tips and tricks. I’ve already implemented a couple of her suggestions: updating my professional photo (coming soon), checking settings on linked in and updating information, as well as giving my social media a new look.
If you are in the creative service industry (or thinking about entering the industry) whether photography, art, food, writing, or designing, and you want people to find you and purchase your products or services, email the Westwood Artists at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added their mailing list. We are already working with Tricia to host a fall workshop with a focus on instagram or facebook.
* I’ll be at the Medfield Library selling my pottery collection. There is a lot going on at my site! Look for me in the Great Room on the Main Floor.
Medfield Library 468 Main Street
* 4:00–9:00 pm. Artisans’ work for sale. 4:30 pm. Children’s performer Jeannie Mack: Warm Winter Sing-a-longs. 4:00–9:00 pm. Kids craft station hosted by MAP (Medfield Afterschool Program). 4:00–9:00 pm. Visit the Friends Bookstore for books, CDs, DVDs and audiobooks. 5:15–5:45 pm. Trills ‘n Chills a cappella group, with Eva Kendrick Voice Studio.
The Cultural Alliance of Medfield hosts its fourth annual Holiday Stroll on Dec. 7, 2018 from 4 – 9 pm. This is a festive family event that takes place at sixteen venues along Main Street (Route 109), North Meadows Road (Route 27), North Street and the Dwight Derby House on Frairy Street. Included are 40 artists booths at four locations, an outdoor ice sculpture carving demonstration, food vendors, carolers, photos with Santa and M.E.M.O.’s outdoor tree lighting ceremony. All events are within walking distance, FREE admission and parking nearby.
We have a great line up of Westwood Artists all making, baking and selling their local wares in our hometown. You can’t get any more “LOCAL” than that! Shop Small with us by celebrating small businesses and helping communities thrive and stay vibrant.
Five years ago, I wanted to sell my handmade pottery in my hometown of Westwood, Massachusetts. I created a few dishes and approached Decor & More, a gift shop in the center of town to see about a partnership. Since then, there have been Westwood dishes of all kinds, Westwood grad dishes and most recently: Realtor dishes with town names.
These dishes are created from white stoneware clay, hand cut, smoothed, hand stamped and set to dry before hand painting each individual letter and design with an underglaze paint. Dishes are fired in a kiln, glazed with a clear and fired for a second time to create a piece that is both durable and functional for food. No dish is alike and can vary year to year as changes to color and design are updated. They are fun to collect!