“Veys,” “Veyz,” “Vahz”

Spring means it is finally warming up here in north, central MA. For me, this primarily means things will start to bud and bloom which gets me all excited to sit on our porch and observe my gardenwhich makes me want to make vases.

Last summer (July ’10) during a two-week residency at the Watershed Center for the Arts in Maine, I made a new prototype vase (finished right). As is not uncommon for me, play and design are waylaid by deadlines, so I’ve just gotten around to making a next and improved version now (in-progress left).

Vase forms are a perennial (the pun that had to happen) favorite for me because they can be any shape, size and color, but are equally challenging in the balance between function and beauty (i.e. the potential to elegantly arrange flowers matched with a form that doesn’t overpower the display, but looks attractive and interesting sans posies). “Vase” is such a vague term though because it can be any size, shape and color. I wish there were more specific names for vases intended for certain flowers (like the “tulipiere”) or names that designate a certain size or shape (like the “flower brick”). This Vase In Floral Design page I found gives something close to what I’m craving, giving nice summations on various vase shapes and how they’re used best with tips and notes.

My new, large (15″ h) wire lattice vase is intended, however, to be more sculptural than functional, and is a slight mash-up of form inspiration between a small, cobalt blue glass vase of my Great Grandma’s (similar to the first image below) and a brass antique find that sits in my studio. The wire creates an airy finish to the top of the vase, appearing a bit like a blue-print drawing, a crinoline framework or the unfinished, underlying architecture of the clay part itself. The wire is a way for me to draw in three-dimensions and is a nice contrast material to the clay. (I enjoy working with the wire, but the humbling nature of clay and its shrinkage does not always cooperate with my master plans for elaborate wirework, so we’ll see how it fairs in the firings). I, of course, finished this muscular form off with suggestions of Victorian wallpaper layered over mod candy stripes.

Below are a selection of vases, from antique to contemporary, in a variety of sizes and materials that caught my eye for this post. (You can see the trend that I tend to like pedestal or footed vases.) There are more of my favorites in this post here too. Enjoy!

   
   
 
   

From top right: Laced-edge glass vase c. 1920; Vintage trumpet milk glass vase; Antique brass vase; and “Eva” solitaire glass vase. Second row: Etched vintage glass vase; Vintage ruby and gold glass vase; Vintage 1950s Hull vase; and antique Louis Majorelle glass and iron vase. Third row: Anika Engelbrecht ceramic, and balloon Swell vases and Petite Friture Ikebana vases. Last row are all KleinReid: Cyril vase, Chateau bud vase, Upright vases by Eva Zeisel for KleinReid, and Peep vase.

Thinking of Japan: Influence, Exhibition & Auction

Here are my five yunomis made specially for AKAR Design’s Annual Yunomi Invitational. These are the first cups to have my new polka dot and striped color accents paired with my stamped and slip-trailed patterns ~ lots’o layers!

The nature of the show (200 potters sending five cups each) means the invite was extended last summer, and the cups were made in December and shipped in January so they could be photographed by AKAR to post online now. The coincidental timing of this exhibition’s opening —almost two weeks to the day since the tsunami disaster in Japan— for a show which celebrates a specific style of Japanese tea bowl used for daily, informal tea drinking is one of poignancy. That the surface decoration of my yunomis was influenced by Japanese Oribe style Mino ware is another layer of reflection for me as well as reminder of our connection to past and present for even those on the other side of the globe.

This online-only exhibition also supports The Studio Potter non-profit journal, and opens this Friday, 3/25 at 10 AM CST right here. This show almost sold out in less than 48 hours last year, so open your account with AKAR now and enjoy the beautiful celebration of yunomis!

  

Also opening this week is the amazing Handmade for Japan’s auction of artists’ donated works (pots, sculpture and more) to raise relief funds for victims of the catastrophes in Japan. Preview the auction items on Handmade for Japan’s facebook page here and calendar to buy outright or bid 3/24 at 8 PM EST through 3/27 8 PM EST on eBay right here. More info is available in my blog post below (previous) and on their FB page. Thank you for sharing the auction info and bidding.

UPDATE! See auction results and link to give directly
in the blog post below or go here.

Even Artists Need A Hobby

I didn’t think it strange that an artist might have a hobby until my students (adults who take my class as a hobby) giggled with wonder and surprise when I voiced needing one. Everyone needs time away from their work, even if their work is someone else’s hobby.

There are definitely days in my studio when I get lost in the enjoyment of giving breath to the clay while I throw, “quilting” the wall of a pot as I stamp, spinning that perfect curl of slip-trail, or creating a lovely negative space for a handle. But, there is also weight—self-imposed pressures—carried into the studio about sales, deadlines, goals, growth and more that is hard to “lose” sometimes. Again, I love what I do, but I don’t want it to be all that I do. I like finding other activities that are mentally or physically rejuvenating (or quieting), so that when I am in my studio, that time is as enjoyable and productive as possible. Pitcher (handle) in progress.

Since we bought our home here in the boonies of MA, when the weather allows, I am outside in my perennial gardens. A hobby for me is doing something I enjoy that allows escape and thoughts of nothing else, and gardening is the first thing I’ve found since my pottery beginnings that does that. I had been planning to do this post when Roger Ebert (yep, the movie critic) posted an article* last week in which he mentions that the most valuable asset of his hobby (drawing) is to allow him to both “experience a place or moment more deeply” and to lose track of time. Exactly! (Even a guy who watches movies for a living needs a hobby!) Painting by Andrew Woodward.

Since I work at home, I find it hard to shut the imaginary door (or even find the door) separating my work time (which isn’t without play) from my not-work time.  Basically, I think too much, and since there is no “off” switch, I need a hobby.  Gardening isn’t something I can do year-round, so I decided just recently to start painting. I loved, I mean loved, to draw as a kid. Remember when “color” was a verb and we wanted to do it as much as go outside and play? Maybe that’s just me, but it’s a feeling I want to resurrect. I remember coloring with the big box of Crayola crayons and then fat Crayola markers as a kid, and then in my teens, painting with acrylics. For my degrees, I’ve taken classes in painting, drawing, printmaking and design, but the last time I drew or painted for fun had to have been in high school. Painting by Mathias Heiderich.

Coincidentally (or not?), my Grandpa painted for a hobby. My grandparents home was a revolving gallery of his paintings. He showed in some local juried exhibitions, won numerous awards, but never sold any (perhaps to maintain hobby status), which is happily why I own a wonderful selection of them. One of the best conversations we had in his later years was about art (his paintings and my pottery)—comparing goals, aesthetics, and foibles of material and maker. As an oil painter who strove for realism, I don’t know what he’d think about my interest in impressionism, abstract expressionism or exaggerated color, but it would be neat to talk to him now about what he felt as he painted. Painting by Ward Kieffer.

I’m curious to see how my pottery informs my painting and vice versa. I’m already painting fields of stripes, and my envy over the ease of mixing paint colors has revved my desire to revamp my glaze palette. I’m also finding it hard and humorous to be new at something. Mostly though, I’m enjoying getting lost in color, line and process, like when I garden (except painting is easier on the knees). Stay tuned for the impact of hobby (my painting) on art (my pots)! I think it will be pretty interesting myself. If nothing else, it should remind me to play more during my “work time”. When I look back on my life, I want to make sure that Iplayed. Painting by Ian Davenport.

Above and below are some painters and paintings in particular I love, and consider influence on my painting-as-hobby pursuits, with more favorites here.

  
  
  
   

From top left: Giorgio Morandi, Jennifer Sanchez and Charles Demuth.  Second row: Michael Cutlip, Clare Rojas and Beatriz Milhazes.  Third row: Gene Davis, Kate O’Connor and Chuck Close.  Fourth row: Glennray Tutor, René Magritte and Richard Diebenkorn.  Last row:  Peter Freitag and Matte Stephens.

*I highly recommend reading Roger Ebert’s journal post “You can draw, and probably better than I can” if you are a maker, teacher or art-appreciator, which is really all of us.

Color Me ColorFULL

  
  

This is a pictorial of my recent color ruminations as I seek (out of both need and desire) to re-vamp my glaze palette. Pictured: chartreuse, lime and celery to cerulean, robin’s egg and turquoise to red maple, raspberry and garnet to plum, aubergine and grape to persimmon, tangerine and mango to white. Big color fun! Finding, testing and perfecting glaze colors is not nearly so simple, but having the beginnings of ideas for color is sure a good start. More to unfold in the next year…

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
See a more extensive past blog post about my current glaze color palette here.
  
  
  

Travel Influences & Favorites, Pt. I

March – August 2010: PA, MA, NC, TN, & NYC

 
  

The images above are the very few I took during my minimal outings at NCECA in Philadelphia, and include some favorite pieces from a quick jaunt through the PMA (Philadelphia Museum of Art) and one great building somewhere in the city with curved leaded windows. (You can see more of my favs from the PMA here.)

         

The next group of pictures is from jaunts near my home. The first two are from a building in Amherst, MA. I love the tall, slender windows and contrast of brick and stone. The second is a detail of the stone and how they used brick dust in the mortar leaving the stones looking like they are outlined in hot pink.  The rest of the images are from two visits to Historic Deerfield in central Massachusetts not far from our home.  Since I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the historic homes, most of the pics (except the barn detail and canopy bed detail) are from pieces in the visible storage cases of their museum.  I see different things in each image, from ideas for form and detail to appreciation for handmade and craft like the last two images of the mended bowl and plate.

 
 

These last images are a favorite each of something I saw while teaching at the Penland School of Arts & Crafts (the garden bottle tree in Bakersville) and the Appalachian Center for Crafts (one of the many hand-painted signs on campus) this summer. And last but not at all least are two images of the Statue of Liberty I took when I did a lecture for the Brooklyn Potters Guild.

I’m getting better not only at remembering to take my camera with me, but actually remembering to take pictures as well, and hope to share more of what I see and figuratively bring home to my studio with you here.

Candy, Striped & Quilted

A pictorial montage of some current influences…

  
    
   

…fondant deco, quilted materials (leather, glass and couches), Japanese prints, stripes, candy colors, couture details, tatted shapes, plastic sandwich container form, climbing roses and arched fencing, dots… and stripes.

  
    

Hope to be posting images of some new work that relate to these images (if only in my mind) soon!