Wall Candy


Every other year or so, I make a small series of wall forms, each more elaborate than the last. At almost 3″ deep, they’re too dimensional to be called a tile, and too soft-looking to be called a box; so “pillow” seems the most suitable term for this round, as they are plumper and poofier than ever before. I really like making these forms. I mean, I really like making these…A LOT. They are my opportunity to explore layered pattern over volume without having to balance function. (Though I make sure they hang easily, and their purpose is adding beauty, so they ‘function’ perfectly!)

I think of these pieces as being collage because I’m assembling disparate pattern as well as layering four different ceramic decoration techniques (slip-sponge, underglaze, slip-trail, and mishima). But I also think of them as little paintings because I’m applying color and texture to a surface; the deco and the canvas are just both ceramic. So, ‘ceramic collage pillow paintings’ ~ perfect for adding a lovely focal point to your home décor, solo or grouped. Or just call them ‘wall candy,’ that suits me and my influences just fine.

This is just the beginning of what’s new for 2013 from my studio, some of which are already available in my online shop. These rich layers have also made their way onto some of my yunomis and large plates, all also debuting exclusively in my Etsy shop in the New Year. More posts on form and deco newness coming up with a few teasing glimpses on my Facebook page in the album New Work 2013.

The Year of the Stripe

I titled this post before remembering that 2010 is actually the year of the tiger in the Chinese zodiac.  A fitting animal for my very striped year!  The stripes and polka dots of layered color are another way for me to visually pop the pattern and draw the viewer’s eye around a form.  Plus, I’m having fun deriving influence from here.  In the last 10 years, my work has evolved from just ornate to (I hope) elegant, and now I’m entering my…joyful?…playful?…perky?…stage!

Most of these are —or soon will be!— listed in my Online Store for the holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cake as Influence

Thiebaud cakeA. Steeter cakeOldenburg floor cakeCake Girls Couture cakeThiebaud wedding cakeM. Braun cakeTrend de la Creme blog imageCupcake colorArchitecture as cakeJulia Jacquette cake painting

From top left: Wayne Thiebaud’s painting Let Them Eat Cake; Painted Bird Cake, (a real cake) by Amanda Streeter; Floor Cake by Claes Oldenburg; and couture wedding cakes. Second row: another couture wedding cake; Wedding Cake by Wayne Thiebaud; a real wedding cake by Margaret Braun; a great blog entry from Trend de la Cremé pairing runway fashion with couture cakes; Third row: cupcakes by Dozen Cupcakes; architecture as cake; and Julia Jacquette’s painting White on White (Thirty-six sections of wedding cake, swans).

I started looking at wedding cakes eight years ago for decoration ideas. It seemed an obvious reference for me as slip-trailing (squeezing liquid clay through a bulb syringe) is the clay equivalent to cake-decorating.

I’m not sure when I first came across Wayne Thiebaud’s pastry paintings from the ’60s, but I love them. If I could paint, that is the style and possibly content I would choose. I enjoy his fantastical and exaggerated use of color (hard shadows of electric pink) and style that reminds me of the vintage ads I like. The paint is thick, and somehow simultaneously gestural and precise. Some of my influences are abstract ideas, and that last sentence would be a good example of something I see [in a Thiebaud painting, for example] that I would like to emulate in my work —a feeling, a presence.

Kieffer tile trioI also just like the word, cake (the title of and text on the left tile, actually). I am drawn to the sound of certain words (Who doesn’t like to say rutabaga?), especially if they can have different meanings and contexts. I don’t know where I picked this up, but I sometimes use it as an expression to mean, “exceedingly lucky”. As in, “He is in a pretty cake situation since he married a millionaire,” for example.

I chose Claus Oldenburg’s Floor Cake to show because it fits today’s theme, and because I am drawn to his sculpture and drawing for making real, hard forms soft and humorous. Both elements I look to capture in my own work. Kieffer Soft Treasure box

It may or may not be obvious from the images I chose above (and from my last post below): many of my influences overlap. In these things, I see hard and soft lines, humor, form, context and content. A couture dress looks like a tiered cake which looks like a Victorian home, which could be a covered jar—or maybe that’s just me. As I’ve said before, we artists are the blenders of the disparate creating the unified.

In Progress—New Tile forms

Kieffer greenware tilesKieffer greenware tiles detailThough only two shown are complete, today I finished five new sized and shaped tile forms: three are larger rectangles, and two are a new arched form. (They currently measure 11″h x 7 1/2″w x 2″d in this leatherhard stage, but have some shrinking to do.) I continue to be very excited about these wall/mantel pieces. They are one of the most enjoyable forms I make.

The tiles are more than just canvases for pattern. The forms themselves are intriguing to me; soft with edges, like a torte. I enjoy how they poof out from the wall, or belly out on a tabletop. I particularly like them in groupings. Most are made in a series intended to work together, though they rarely stay together. The ones I finished today are intended to alternate between the two shapes. The palette has already been determined (even before the surfaces were complete), so that all five will be a different color.

I treat the surfaces more like collage than clay decoration. Each one has four to five layers that overlap and intermingle, including content. Three of the new tiles have animals (rabbits and bunnies, chubby birds, and owls), and text (“THICKLY SETTLED”*, “SQUEEZE RIGHT”* and “CRYSTALLIZE”). There is really too much going on with these for one post, so I will have to discuss my interest in words and text, and animals in another at some point.

By the way, three of the rectangle tile forms on the Wall/Mantel Pieces page are available and in need of a loving home: (Untitled) (ivory), SHY/Owl (lime) and CAKE (frost). Clerestory on the New Work page is also available. Drop me an email if you have questions and would like to purchase one. The vault form, HEAVY-DUTY and small square tiles are currently on exhibition and for sale at the “Made In Clay” show at Greenwich House Pottery in NYC through 4/30.

*These amusing phrases are from street signs that seem to be particular to Massachusetts (or New England) where I have lived since 2001. When I first saw a sign reading, “THICKLY SETTLED”, I thought it meant something about the pavement. It refers to areas that are densely populated, so you need to watch your speed. “SQUEEZE RIGHT” (or left) means “merge”. (I’ve used them here in my work to signify other meanings, however.)