Oh Boy, Here We Go!!
15 July 2019
Well, I did say I was going to buy a kiln…so…today was the day! This kiln will be large enough for sizable work, but short enough that I can load and unload unassisted. No standing on a stool for this artist!!! A good kiln is the heart of any ceramic artist’s studio, and this one will be able to do all kinds of temperature ranges, from low fired ware all the way up to high fire work. It is being designed to have a computer controlled system which will regulate how quickly it gets up to the desired temperature, control when I hold the kiln at specific temperatures to achieve all kinds of spectacular effects with the glazes I will be using. It all makes me excited, though nervous too. Actually, nervous does not even come CLOSE to how I feel about this purchase. I should have it installed and ready to go by sometime in late August, or early September!
My creative horizons are growing. This addition to my studio practice will enable creation of work at my own pace, on my individual schedule. No more will I have to worry if someone else’s handling of my work will result in damage, or if someone else’s glazes will have a negative impact on my finished products. That means that once I get more used to this new addition, my work will be much more reliable and probably much more ambitious and interesting.
Well, less about me, and more about you. Inspiration for creative work comes from everywhere, so let me know if you have a vision, and want me to help you achieve it through ideas you would like me to realize for you. Really, my work is nothing when done in a vacuum; it is your input, along with my creative interpretation that gives rise to dynamic art. Functional ware does not have to be always the same, in fact, the slight variations in a set of hand made ceramic ware make the set much more satisfying and interesting to use! In effect, that is why you are interested in hand made work, functional or not.
I am constantly experimenting with ways of creating functional work, as well as decorative pieces, and work that lends itself to contemplation and emotional reactions. This is the heart of my creative process: to make work that allows you to think, to have an emotional or intellectual reaction. Of course, I also hope you will want to invite some of my work into your life for daily use.
Well, that’s all I have for today. This hot day, I encourage you to find what you like best about the things high summer offers: a slower pace, perhaps, for reflection and quiet creativity?
Thanks for reading this today.
Why the URL "ClayAndChimeras.com"?
5 July 2019
Well, it is all about the juxtaposition of Presence and Dream. I say that clay is grounding, and it is! It comes from the earth, it is malleable like we are, and it goes through trials by fire to become something enduring, many times useful, and often beautiful. It can be thought of as a metaphor for the kinds of lives we, most of us, live.
Chimeras, on the other hand, are creatures of the imagination, of dreams, both pleasant and nightmarish. They are composed of two or more creatures. They are the monsters of myth from cultures all over the world, and throughout time. They also represent our highest aspirations and our deepest fears. Think of Pegasus, the winged horse, who carried a Greek hero, Perseus. Think of the Minotaur, an unholy mix of man and bull. Think of the Sphinx, the winged bulls of Assyria and Sumeria, the Ancient Egyptian pantheon of gods and demons, many with human bodies and animal heads. Think of the monsters in many Asian pantheons, the gods and demons in Hindu mythology. The Aztecs, Toltec, and Mayans had their chimera alright...think about the depictions of their gods and demons. You can see that this is a universal human theme, through time and space.
All that said, how do I incorporate this into my body of work? Making pottery is all about making useful objects, one might think. That does not limit my interpretation of form, or of vessel decoration. The work of throwing clay on the potter's wheel is soothing, meditative. The art of decoration is often contemplative.
Many of my sculptures, clay or otherwise, are mythological monsters, asking their audiences to think. To my mind, that is the job of art, to ask the observer to feel something, or to think about an idea or an issue. Many of my sculptures are comprised of more than one material, so in some sense that, too, makes them chimeras.
Clay itself is chimerical. It is a mixture of disparate materials: glass makers, metals, including aluminum and aluminum salts, and organic materials that lend color and cohesion to clay. In a sense, clay is a conglomerate of materials with, if you will, different DNA. The scientific definition of a chimera is a being that shares DNA from two or more sources. It all fits. My personal chimeras are clay, glaze, sculptures in mixed media and metal, and of course, my little mascot, pictured below.
Thanks for reading this today.
Clay is Grounding!
June 26, 2019
Hot, humid, hazy summer days near Washington DC! A good day to stay indoors, working in the cool of my studio on hand built items. Today is a day for slab work. Once rolled out, I will take a tool I made for the purpose, and press ordered patterns into the clay. Once that is done, the clay will be draped over a form to allow the clay to change the shape of the impressed patterns. This should result in interesting shadow play and glaze pooling once the work is assembled, fired and glazed.
This is the essence of working with clay. A plastic medium, it offers infinite ways to shape, mold and decorate each object. Clay as a creative canvas offers each person unique expression. The limitations of clay require thoughtful application of each technique, and while we humans think we can impose our wills on this demanding medium, we also have to realize this medium has its' own opinions and memory which must be respected.
Clay is not simply a medium for artistic expression. In fact, ceramics are integral to our way of life, touching on industrial applications, useful household items, and technologies. The act of making something in clay involves creativity, and also industrial processes. The art of fire, turning a plastic, malleable material into a vitrified, solid material capable of holding water, is complex and highly technical. Overfire a clay body, and you get a solid mess on the kiln shelves. Underfire the clay, and you get a porous object that may not hold up over time. Words like "eutectics", "flux", "heat work" and "vitrification" are indicative that more is happening with clay than the simple, or not so simple, creative process. In short, there is more than enough of interest and technical expertise for any artist who has a technical, analytical side.
Thanks for reading this today. I will have more to share as time goes on. Please let me know if you have thoughts to add, or reactions about this blog.