Sunday, July 20, 2014

Still chasing after texture

Earlier this year I mentioned that I was looking for more texture in my work (see 2/1/14 entry), and working more in dark, iron-rich clay. Following the platters that I made then, I have done other experiments that take their cue from a demonstration by Bryan Hopkins that I saw a couple of years ago at Arrowmont, and which has been percolating in the back of my head ever since. The idea is to cut a section off a piece, texture it, and put it back. Simple enough! 

The first thing I did, to test the process was this little green tumbler.
I liked it so much that I made a set of four, this time using dark clay. And instead of glazing the whole piece, I used different oxides on the textured area and left it unglazed. I like the idea of having different textures in one piece, especially something, like a tumbler, that is going to be handled by the user. The unglazed, textured area provides a resting place for the hand as well as the eye. 

I used a roller to texture the clay that I removed and reinserted. The roller stretched the clay and made it taller than the rest of the piece. I left this additional height to bring even more attention to the piece. I also put an extra ribbon of clay around it to frame the textured area and draw even more attention to it. The extra height, the texture, the unglazed surface, and the frame around it mean that the pieces are all about that very small portion of the whole.

The set of four tumblers in various colors sold right away on Etsy! I also made a vase using the same process. 

Once I figured out how to do it on cylinder shapes I tried this process on bowls. So I made what I call "contemplation bowls" to be used during meditation or as a decorative item, maybe to float a bloom in it or sit a pillar candle in a bed of coffee beans.

In this case, I took out a circle from the side of the bowl, textured it and returned it to its place but, again, making sure to draw attention to it. Instead of using the piece that I had cut out of the bowl, I used a darker clay and then used oxides rather than glazes on the outside, which gives a tactile experience that is quite different from the smoothness of a glazed bowl. The inside of the bowl is where all the action is! I melted marbles on the inside and sprinkled copper oxide to make for a lot of interest as you're looking into the bowl.

I'm also using this technique on my ubiquitous yarn bowls. Here are three yarn bowls I made yesterday. It's a real move away from the flower and curlicue motifs I've been using so far. Although, the idea is not completely new since I have made yarn bowls where I would, say, cut out a butterfly or heart and then place the cutout on the other side of the bowl. This, however, is not only more abstract, but I'm trying to reimagine the portion taken out by texturing it and putting it back in its place in a different form. I plan to also use oxides in addition to glazes on these. The end result will be a lot more earthy and rustic than my usual yarn bowls. I don't know how that will over.

I also made a couple of "wrapped" vases, something that I used to do a very long time ago. In this case, I took some bandages and soaked them in slip and then wrapped them around the shoulder of the vase. My thought was to give the vase a scarf around it's neck to keep it warm. The "scarf" was washed in red iron oxide and waxed so that it would not take the rich iron glaze. It stands out because of its rough texture and darker color.

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