Bark vs Snow

It can be so hard to know where an artist gets the inspiration for their work – such is the case with this lovely little bark mug.

I’ve been making fake tree bark, or faux bois if you want to be fancy, in clay for what seems like forever. An artist I met some years back, David Gilbaugh showed me the basics of creating bark and even gifted me a special tool he had made to help create realistic bark.

I’ve never achieved David’s level of expertise – he’s a true master and can accurately re-create the bark of any specific tree with ease. Definitely check out his work if you get a chance as it is stunning.

I can, however, create basic generic tree bark easily. It makes a great parlor trick to show my students and I’ve been pulling it out of my back pocket for years as a fun impromptu demo. In fact this mug was created during one such demo a few weeks back.

I was showing some studio folks not in my class the mug pre-glaze and one of them offered up that I must be getting inspired by all of the tire tracks in the snow now that I live in the mountains.

Sadly, no. Snow has yet to inspire anything, but hard physical labor in me this winter season. Have I mentioned how much I *enjoy* shoveling?

I did, however, love getting the reminder that even in what appears an easily interpreted piece of art can take on so many variations when viewed through another lens.

Check out this mug and more non-snow inspired work in my Etsy shop!

Reflections

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This plate is one of my favorites. I really like how it looks like a puddle with ripples reflecting over and over. Strangely, its one of my more simple glazing jobs – three different glazes only, yet I really feel like it impacts the senses in a big way.

Learn more about this plate here.

Toast

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Some people aren’t sure what to make of my plates when they first see them. Are they food safe? Would you even want to put food on them? Can they be cleaned? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding “yes!” My goal in creating my plates is to design and send out into the world functional art. Who says that plates have to be boring? \

All of that being said, I do tend to see my smaller plates as more dessert or appetizer plates and my larger ones as serving platters. One day I’ll get around to making an honest to goodness dinner plate sized ones … maybe a whole dinnerware set since that’s my long term goal, but I digress.

My view of my smaller plates changed forever this week when a friend of mine who recently acquired one of my smaller plates told me that it had become her “go-to” toast plate. Apparently, not only is it the perfect size for a small meal, the plate is rectangular so both pieces of toast fit fully on the plate without overlapping. As those of you who are toast lovers have probably experienced, once you put the toppings, be it avocado or jelly, on your toast you can’t overlap them without creating a bit of a mess. The rectangular shape solves that problem for you.

So there you have it – the perfect use for my plates: breakfast! It’s only fitting since that is my favorite meal of the day!

Check out the plate pictured and other perfect toast plates on my Etsy shop!

 

Figurative Work

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If you had asked me a year ago if I would be creating figurative sculptures I would have laughed and laughed and laughed. Yet here I am with several garden art sculptures slash planters created in a female form. Even more amazing is that I love creating them. I enjoy the attitude and personality each one takes on as the piece takes shape over the sculpting process. I especially love the chance to be really crazy and free with my glazing. Something about these forms seems to call for a no-holds barred approach to adding color that is far removed from my normally rather detailed and precise method.

This particular figure is my tallest yet – standing fourteen inches high – and has a lovely red midriff that I love. I hope you’ll take a little time to check her out in my online shop along with a couple others I have available.

Well … Sally Jane??

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I get a kick out of naming my pieces. Particularly the plates and tiles I make. Something about them just asks to be named. Maybe it is because they are more like canvases for my texture patterns than the vases and bottles. Or maybe it’s just easier to see and pick up the feeling when the surface is flat.

Most of the time, I look at a piece and immediately know the right name for it. The texture and glaze combination will just reach out and grab me right away – name me this.

Every once in awhile I get a piece back from glaze firing and don’t know what to think. I won’t quite know what the plate is trying to say. Its message is more vague. Or maybe I just don’t like how the piece turned out in the end. Whatever the reason, those are the pieces I struggle to find just the right name.

This plate is one of those I’m struggling with in the naming department. I was sitting in front of my computer, uploading work to my etsy shop and having named all of those other pieces felt the pressure to come up with … something.

And I thought … well … Sally Jane. See this plate and other new work here.

New Planter Options – Introducing the Clover Series

Over the past several weeks I’m been working towards standardizing my planter sizes and textures. While I have more work to do, I’m excited to start sharing some of the fruits of my efforts.

I call this pattern my clover texture. I really enjoy how this pattern takes shape as it is repeated around the planter form as well as how the glaze nestles right into the grooves of the clover. It really is a perfect way to showcase my stain and glaze combinations.

Currently, this series is available in four color combos: blue-black, blue-green, shino and pale green. Be sure to let me know if you’d like to see it in other color options!

Clover Series

Blowing in the Wind

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This piece is a great example of why I absolutely love, love, love using other people’s shoe prints to create my work. Who would have thought that a simple shoe print could convey movement? Who would have imagined that the addition of two relatively simple stamps could add the illusion on wind to this piece? Since when do shoe prints blow in the wind anyway?

Just the magic of getting out of my head and out of my own way – and random shoe prints do that so perfectly for me!

Check it out in my online shop here

No Shoes Were Harmed

Last Friday night I set-up a table outside Artisans Etc in Big Bear and started rolling out slabs of clay. I was there to collect shoe prints from folks passing by and to give them a little introduction to the world of ceramics and texture.

There I sat there enjoying the cool mountain breezes, I reveled in the twists and turns that had brought me to that point where this was my job. Talking people into donating their shoe prints to one of my clay slabs is one of my all time favorite clay projects. The exercise is both a reminder of works past as well as a challenge to my normal thought process on my texture patterns.

I love the process of it – creating the work around the donated shoe prints is almost secondary. I had the pleasure of introducing adults to the childish pleasures of shoe print patterns. As I listened as one of them absolutely crowed with satisfaction over compliments to his, to that point ignored, shoe print, it was so wonderful to take in the joy that art and creativity brings to us as human beings.

To use that joy people have for learning that they too can create in my work is the best feeling. I thought I’d share a little peak into the plates I created that night with all of you and I’m pleased to note that no shoes were harmed in the process of making these plates.

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Pinch Pot Mugs

I enjoy teaching for a lot of reasons. Its fun. It reminds me of the best part of my past life in human resources – developing others. Its challenging. I could go on, but I will share the one reason that constantly surprises me – I grow from it too.

It shouldn’t surprise me. After all, I’ve been teaching others in various capacities for years, certainly more than a decade, yet it still does every time a personal “AHA moment” hits me.

The most memorable from my last class session was when I shared the work of Didem Mert. Didem is a emerging artist in the ceramics world and its not surprising once you’ve seen her work. She uses a pinching method for her creations. They retain this really lovely hand built feel and her color block inspired glazing is stunning. You can see for yourself on her website here. I’m constantly on the hunt for new ways to teach the same concepts, in this instance, pinch pots. Didem’s work seemed perfect.

First, I had to figure out a reasonable way she could have created her great pinched mugs. Contrary to what my students probably think, I have no real idea how must of our inspiration artists create their work unless I’ve come across a tutorial they’ve published.

Personally, for me, that’s the best part – trying to figure out how to re-create a piece. Breaking it down into smaller, manageable components that I can translate into the construction method I’m teaching that day is fun and challenging for me. As is often the case, its in this stage that my “aha moments” tend to hit.

This time was no different. As I created several examples and variations for my students, I was reminded of how stuck I can get in the same construction methods, same forms when creating my own work.

Who’s to say that I shouldn’t be texturing pinched walls of clay instead of the rolled out slabs I usually use.

Who’s to say that I shouldn’t be creating a form first, texture second.

All good questions. I guess I’m to say. That’s the trouble with being in charge – you have to answer your own questions. I think, in this case, I’ll have to try it and see!

Check out my collection of limited edition pinch pot mugs inspired by Didem Mert. All of these fun mugs were also used for glazing demos and represent a variety of crazy combos! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Pinch Mugs Collage

 

Unintentional Pants

I typed the title to this blog post and had to stop for a minute before I could start the post itself – I was laughing too much about pants. Yep, that’s right, you heard me – pants!

Never in all of the time I’ve been doing ceramics would I have thought I’d been sitting here typing a blog post about pants. You see, I’ve rarely contemplated pants in the realm of my ceramic work unless you count having more laundry to be done with all of the clay stains I seem to accumulate. Yet here we are chatting about pants and my work.

I first starting seeing resemblances to pants after a customer pointed it out to me at a show. Setting up at a live show and sale is not for the faint of heart. When I create my work, I tend to have a vision of what I’m hoping to achieve in the piece – what I’d like others to see in it. All of my good intentions are typically dashed five minutes into a show when customers start stopping by my booth. Whether a customer engages and discusses my work directly with me or is talking to a friend or themselves (psst – I can hear you), I always gain a lot about how my art is viewed from those experiences.

I’m philosophical about it. What better way to learn what folks really think about your work then to put it out there for the world to see and comment.

Such is the case with my favorite planter design, which I do have to agree with the many (and there are MANY) customers who think some of them look like pants! Luckily, the sentiment is that they are cute pants, always important, so I haven’t felt compelled to make any design changes. I invite you to decide for yourself. Pants or not?

You can check out even more of my planters here!