As an artist, I work in small batches to create collections in clay like a painter creates a painting. The difference being that one can lift a piece out of my “painting” and interact with it. During the pandemic, I’ve spent my time working in my home studio, teaching art virtually and caring for my family. In the winter months, I worked on a collection entitled “Dreaming of a tropical vacation” because I was. This spring, I have returned to the decorator series to craft new work that reflects the home. Perhaps it was watching the birds out my kitchen window and tending to the plants growing in my house that my collections reflect these moments in time. I considered the simple pleasures of filling vases with flowers, setting the table for the family meal and enjoying the way light interacts with glazed pottery in use. After all, the art an artist creates reflects the life they live.
I’m selling my small batch pottery collections this weekend outdoors in Westwood, MA with four artist friends. We had a wonderful time safely interacting with customers last fall and have decided that a Pop Up Mother’s Day Sale on Saturday, May 8th from 11am – 3pm would be the perfect environment to sell our artwork. We will be following all the safety protocols for a safe selling experience. My table will be set up outside of Decor and More flanked by the other artists. It is a rain or shine event. Please stop in on Saturday to shop at 695 High Street (Post Office Plaza) in Westwood, MA.
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.
I started the New Year with a meal of roasted beets with mustard dressing from Powisset Farm’s winter share in a bowl given to me by a potter friend. I didn’t see the connection between the food and pottery until I had eaten the last bite… Happy New Year!