Oh, That Drip

Glazing … it tends to be the bane of most ceramic artist’s existence.

Why? Well, where to start?

I suppose I could begin with sharing that the glazing process is a chemical reaction activated by the heat of the kiln. Before firing glazes all tend to look kind of pinkish, brownish, white-ish, red-ish or sometimes grey-ish, but certainly never the color they will be after firing. Its enough to drive a person batty imagining the “correct” color.

Catch those quotes in my last statement? Chemical reactions also mean that glazes don’t necessarily combine based on the color wheel or logic. My favorite example of this is a beautiful turquoise matte glaze that turns maroon when a clear is applied over it instead of a shiny turquoise color.

I could go on about glaze application thickness and application methods, but I fear I’m digressing from that drip I mentioned. All of that activating heat also means that glaze doesn’t like to stay where you put it. Instead glaze tends to run and pool. This can be extremely helpful as well as frustrating.

You see, glaze that runs can run right off of the pot onto the kiln shelf fusing your pot to the shelf. So, that intriguing little drip when it happens is something that gets ceramic artists very excited. This is especially true when that lovely drip stops just before disaster and instead leaves behind a focal point on your piece.

You can find this bottle and more of my work at Artisans Etc. in Big Bear. See more of my glaze experiments – and seem to be always experiments! – online in my shop!

Pinstripe Love Affair

It’s not unusual for me to be inspired by a texture tool. I collect new ones all the time either by making new clay stamps or running across a strange object. My newest acquisitions feature big in my texture patterns for the next several pieces I create.

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I don’t know how much this goes noticed or unnoticed by my fans, but when I run across an older piece it always looks a little dated to me. This is especially true if that texture maker has been moved to storage and out of my go-to set of tools.

Yet every once in awhile I hit pay dirt with my finds and stamp making. I have some textures that appear over and over and over again in my work. A great example of this are my handmade texture rollers. I learned how to create them a few years ago and over time I’ve made so many different rollers that my least favorite ones have their very own storage container.

Originally, I made these rollers to create sections of lines close together or, with wider rollers, lines of stamped patterns. More often than not though I find myself using my favorites to create pinstripes.

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It seems so strange to me that so much of my work is pinstriped. Anyone who has ever met me would tell you that I’m not a formal dresser – I’m not a snappy dresser at all. To me pinstripes have always implied formality – a word I wouldn’t use to describe my work.

I love the pinstriped pieces I’ve created though. I use them to provide a contrast to the more flowery patterns and textures I favor. They emphasize the roundness and belly I like to add to my forms as well as provide movement in a particular direction. They also provide a great, built-in, separation for my glaze and stain combination.

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I am constantly coming up with new ideas to pair with pinstripes. I can’t even imagine not having them as a subseries to my texture patterns. Who knew my crazy, whimsical pieces really just needed a touch of formality?

Pulled From A Pocket

When I first started creating my textured bottles, I created the designs free-hand from whatever struck my fancy that day.  Given my tendency to pull from nature inspired themes, its no surprise that they tended to be oriented in that direction featuring lots of floral and leafy images.

As I’ve been creating them, its like my mind has been given permission to run rampant in the texture department.  I’ve always created my own stamps in addition to hoarding interesting found objects for texture designs, but now I’m using my collection more and more than ever before with my bottles.

Enter a friend who is a huge wrist watch and pocket watch collector.

I’ll admit to never giving watches – wrist or otherwise – much thought.  There was certainly a time in my life when I wore one before the popularity of cell phones for the purest of functional reasons.  So, my recent exposure to a myriad of vintage time pieces has been eye opening.  The inner workings are beautifully crafted and could be works of art in their own right standing still … wound, they rival any intricate dance with their movements.

My original thought, before I knew much about watches at all, was to maybe find a broken one to use the parts inside as texture tools.  As I learned more about watches, particularly the ones that look like those pictured above, I changed directions and decided instead to use the watch images as jumping off points to guide some of my texture designs.

I’m actually really enjoying this new direction.  I feel like it gives me the ability to put my own, more organic, spin on what is a rather precise mechanism.  I’ve even started looking for other sources to use as jumping off points to inspire my texture designs.

Entering the Time Warp

I’ve been working the past several weeks on a really exciting direction for my work … well, I think its exciting!  It represents, in many ways, the culmination of all of my work and experiments over the past few years.  You many have already seen some examples of my newest work if you’re following me on my social media feeds, but I wanted to take a little bit of time to share more of the behind the scenes with everyone today.

I love texture.  No, that’s not quite right.  I. LOVE. TEXTURE.  There, that’s better.

I’ve always been a texture lover.  From the squash-like creases and folds on my honey pot and jar series to re-creating the look and feel of stained glass, to me its all about the texture.  So, I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually start creating work like these bottles and, soon to come, framed tiles.

I am particularly enjoying forming my texture explosions into a bottle form.  Do you have any idea how many different types and shapes of bottles are out there?  The mind boggles. My bottles so far have been a pretty standard shape, but I’m hoping to expand that as I’ve started haunting antique stores for vintage bottle shape inspiration.

Each texture pattern is created free hand using my own handmade clay stamps as well as my collection of found objects (the subject of which is probably a whole post in itself!). I get my inspiration from a variety of places with most of my earliest designs coming from floral themes.  I created a time lapse video showing a little peak into my texture building process for you.  So, enter the time warp with me for this short video!