Here are some of my faves from our wicked awesome autumn jaunt to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The MFA recently opened a new wing for arts from the Americas, so many of my pix are from there, but as usual, what I’m drawn to are diverse materials, time periods, shapes, and styles, which will filter into my work in various ways over time. Enjoy!, and see more influence, pictorial posts here. (Hover your cursor over any pic, or click each, for more info.)
Fellow potter and blogger Ben Carter asked me to write a guest blog post for a new series he’s calling Turning Points, “where artists discuss the effect historical ceramics has had on their studio life.” I don’t post as often as I’d like on my own blog because my thoughts don’t flow as easily as a line of slip-trail, so it was fun to have a writing assignment about specific pots I enjoy, and how objects of influence inform my work. Check out my blog post here, and the latest from Ben and his studio in China by following his blog here! ~Thanks, Ben!
Tea set by Ben Carter
Coming up this weekend is my Holiday Studio Sale (November 5th & 6th), and while I would love for every single one of you to visit me here in north central Massachusetts, I realize that’s just not possible. Part of visiting an artist in their studio is to buy unique items and support handmade, but the other part is to see where the artist works every day. Those of you living beyond New England’s driving distance can always shop directly from my studio online in my Gallery Store and Pottery Shop. While it’s not exactly dropping by and sifting through pots on my shelves in person, it is the next best thing. For everyone (those who live within shipping range and those who live way beyond), I decided to circle my studio and shoot some of the tools and objects that surround me everyday to help fulfill in some small way the “glimpse behind the scenes” reason to visit.
Pictured above: The doormat that welcomes visitors to my space features big flowers, which remind me that spring will eventually come when there’s two feet of snow on the ground. An old tumbler of mine and three-tiered candy dish (from Ikea) hold my most-used tools and reside on a lazy susan in the right corner of my seven-foot work table. And, the large buckets of glaze, which live under my work table and are rolled out when I’m ready to pour and dip the glazes I mix.
My test tile board (test tiles are the ceramic artist’s paint chip) displays my current palette of satin and glossy glazes both alone and over stripes of underglaze colors, and new test colors. The chest-high foundation wall of my studio is a great shelf and keeper of many tools, including this decorative tea tin for my pens and markers, and collaborative ceramic basket by my grad professor Brad Schwieger and me for my brushes. A pound scale is a pretty typical tool in a potter’s studio (even of this era) for weighing amounts of clay, like the cups in the background that started as a pound and an eighth ball. I bought my scale at a re-sale shop when I lived in Detroit two years before having a studio in which to use it!
On my potter’s wheel sit my throwing tools in a bowl I made while working with studio potter John Glick (1997-98), and have used in multiple studios since. Also visible is the backrest I lean against while I stand to throw to keep my back healthy. Behind my wheel, à la laundry-hung-to-dry style, are lots of influence images. I couldn’t bring myself to tape or push-pin into my new walls yet, so this works and is fun for easy adding and subtracting. Other than me, the workhorse(s) of my studio are my ware boards. These 1″ x 12″ x 36″ boards are my shelves and allow me to tote pots (12 cups fit on one board, for example) from my wheel, to my studio shelving unit, to my kiln shelving unit and back again with relative ease, as well as make the shelving units themselves flexible for holding short items to tall.
Lastly, pictured left is a partial collection of influence objects I’ve picked up at antique stores, resale shops, and apparently anywhere else (like the plastic sandwich “triangle container” I think would make a great flower brick form).
That’s my studio at a glance! I hope some of you can swing by to see it in person and shop elegant for the holidays on Nov. 5th & 6th!
It’s the title I chose for my solo show at Plinth Gallery in Denver. I had jotted down the phrase months ago, but didn’t note the context. I believe I heard it on NPR in reference to something else, but it originated from the delightful 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street:
Look Doris, someday you’re going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile.
~ John Payne as Fred Gailey
The “lovely intangibles” are something I think about when I’m working in my studio and reference about my pots when I teach: the importance of detail (different from decoration), which I define as anything from a slip-trail accent to the ribbed line that delineates a curve. Each of the aesthetic, technical and functional components that make up the whole of a pot —those big and little things that need to be there for me as the maker— may not be definable or even identifiable to the viewer, but if one or more is missing, the whole is no longer the same or as strong. I like the idea that it’s those lovely, imperceptible or even elusive intangibles that are crucial in the completion of a beautiful and useful object. We may not be aware of them when they are there, but somehow we are when they’re not.
The “important” details pictured, first row: 1. The negative space of a pitcher handle and crisp line that defines the handle itself. 2. The stripes that pop the stamped bunny silhouette, and slip-trailed tail. 3. The top flowing line of a cup handle that leads directly into the lip, and the lines the define the glossy interior and satin exterior. Second row: 4. The red stripes that wrap around and define planes and curves. 5. The cut-aways from a jar foot that create shadows and punctuate the softly squared corners of the body. 6. The thrown, altered and ribbed curves of a large pear jar.
Design ideas from [our trip to] Montreal:
We had a lovely, short vacation to Montréal this past week. A city that feels European and is less than six hours from our front door ~Oui! I’m pretty sure we walked every main thoroughfare and rue in Old Port, Le Village, Plateau Mont-Royal, St-Denis, Mile End, Chinatown and more. There is indeed a great and easy metro system, but you can’t see things if you can’t see things, so leisurely walking allowed us to take in the most of this stylish city. I should have many more pictures, but am pleased to share with you these few that give me wonderful ideas for color, line and detail. I see suggestions for cut-outs, color use, lip lines (tops of pots) and there is surely a flower vessel in those amazing tea cakes pour sûr!
A pictorial blog post with some of my favorite items and details from our trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC this past Friday. About 4 1/2 hours of driving each way from north, central boonies MA left about 7 hours for some focused wandering. Fast, yes, but still fabulous with new influence ideas to boot!
The majority of our time was spent in various galleries of the permanent collection (hover your cursor over my pictures above for details and click to enlarge). The remainder of our time was spent in several of their special exhibitions where pictures are not permitted, so the images below are from the Met’s site where you can see a wonderful selection from each show.
The title for the late Alexander McQueen’s exhibition “Savage Beauty” probably best sums up this extraordinary, haunting and gorgeous installation by my favorite fashion couturier. I am glad to own the book for the exhibition, but the in-person experience was unparalleled. Read and see more about this exhibition here.
The Poetry in Clay: Korean Buncheong Ceramics from Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art exhibition was also a great treat. Read and see more about this exhibition here.