Sketching & Prototypes

As I wrote in the last post, when I am working out a new design I tend to draw, make and then draw again. How many I make, and how many times I draw, depends on how different the new design is from my “regular” repertoire of forms.

Pitcher_Sketchbook Pitchers_InProgress

The pitchers above are an example of a shorter development cycle.  I had been making creamers (as part of a creamer and sugar set) for years, but never really made pitchers, so last year did some drawings for a milk-sized pitcher.  I originally did some drawings of four different pitcher ideas (see Sketchbook & Pitcher post); made one of each of the four; decided I like the one above the best; and have since made several more with minor variations from the original.  Ideally I would make the time to re-draw or document the revised design in my sketchbook.  Realistically, and more often than not, I look at a finished piece on the shelf in my studio as a reminder of proportion and for cues to readjust details on the next series.  (How studio artists work in series could be a whole post in itself, note to me.)

Wire_vase_Sketch Kieffer_wire_vase

This wire vase form is an example of an idea that is going through a longer developmental cycle.  I made the drawings above as well as the finished prototype during a Watershed (a ceramic center in ME) artists-invite-artists residency last year (’08).  My definition of a studio pot prototype is the same as that for industrial design: “an original, full-scale, and usually working model of a new product or new version of an existing product”.   I needed to practice working with the wire, and to see how the wire interacted with the form, so completed this one form to understand the idea better in three-dimensions.  I still have a ways to go for the prototype to better match my ideas and drawings.  The role of “designer” is one of my many jobs to which I’m not able to devote a lot of time.  I will continue to pick away at this idea (using the wire to create an additional form or layer that corresponds with the clay, and allows the flower stems to be visible through the body).  However, it will definitely take time to evolve.  More drawing and play are in order!

Fresh From the Kiln: Blocks and Pots

All three alphabet blocks finished and glazed.  (In progress post here.)  I love ’em.
kristen_kieffer_alpha_blocks_iii
This is the only word these three can spell.  A next series will purposefully blend imagery with the letters to spell…something. True alphabet blocks are a learning tool for children; a minor intent for these was to do the same and familiarize the viewer with little known or at-risk animals. So, I kind of like the blend of “Oh.” or “OH?” or “OH!” in this beautiful format paired with these even more beautiful animals.

kk_alpha_blocks_v
This view shows my versions of all six real animals (all birds except one): left to right, Boreal owl, Red fox, Finch (I unfortunately didn’t write down what kind), Hoopoe, Huet-huet and Bee-eater.  (You can use GoogleImages, to see photographs of the real things.)  It’s subtle, but this view also shows that three sides of each block are satin and two are glossy versions of the same color for each.
kk_alpha_blocks_iv
The bottom two blocks show a top view (left), and bottom view (right, signed and unglazed).
kk_alpha_blocks_vi
One more view.  The letter for each animal is on the opposite side of that image, following real children’s blocks.  As I wrote before, the primary goal for these was to have fun incorporating elements I enjoy (fonts, text, vintage toys, animals and decoration) into a small format of 3 1/2″.

kristen_kieffer_pitchers
I chose one of the four pitcher forms I “tried out” a few months ago (see this post), and made this small series with my favorite. Each between 7-8″h.

kk_script_jar_ii kristen_kieffer_jar

Two new, large pear jars. The left is the glazed script jar in the post below. The right is a big purple mama with the lilac pattern.

Sketchbook & Pitchers

Kieffer sketchbook pitchers  kk-pitchers-l1
Kieffer sketchbook pitchers
I thought these images would eloquently demonstrate the importance of my sketchbook in making. I drew these images –in my handmade sketchbook– on Tuesday evening, and just finished making the four likenesses this Saturday morn. My studio time is more productive when I work from drawings and have an idea, rather than walking in and thinking, “Today I will make a new pitcher form.” The drawings are guidelines; a faster way to work through some form ideas than on the wheel. I admire artists who make spontaneously. I am not one of them. And have become more successful in the work and in my head by recognizing –sounds a bit cliché– how my personality suits the making (and vice versa).

I knew two of the pitchers would be stamped and the others softly squared, but don’t usually feel the need to produce the decoration in the drawings. That is improvised later. The drawings aren’t meant to be replicated anyway. Seeing something in three-dimensions is different than two, and my drawing skills only take me so far.

I have never really made pitchers. Odd for a potter. I make one every once in awhile to play with how I might do it, but it hasn’t held my interest in the past. I demo them frequently for my students, and I think that’s what got me sketching this week. So these are some new ideas worked up from other forms of mine. One (top left) is based on my covered jars; a slightly new form (pear-shaped) idea. The middle two reference my current teapot form. And the fourth (lower right) is a stretched version of my creamer.  *The second image of greenware pitchers was accidentally deleted.

I would like to see all of them bigger. I have one I like more than the others…

I mentioned my sketchbook being handmade (by me) because the type of binding –coptic, I think it’s called– allows it be opened flat for drawing and viewing. And ultimately, it feels more meaningful to draw in a book I made. This sketchbook is nearing the end pages, so I’m making another one. But the “old” one will continue to be flipped through for awhile before it gets shelved, and new ideas evolve completely into the new book.