Repeating Stamps

As some of you may know, I hand make a lot of my texture tools from clay. Among my absolute favorites are the stamps that can be used both as a single impression and as a repeating one that creates an entirely new pattern.

I love when I learn that one of my stamps is capable of creating a pattern or two. For those who don’t work in clay, it’s not possible to fully test a new stamp until after it has been fired. It can be like Christmas getting new stamps back for their first impression testing and not all of them make the cut let alone the creating a new pattern cut.

I thought I’d share one of my favorite pattern creating stamps with you today! I created this one using a plaster carving technique to achieve fine lines in the stamp.

First, a single impression of this stamp.

Now, here is the start of building the pattern. First, I did a row of the stamp all oriented in the same direction across the length of the slab. Then, I flipped the orientation 180 degrees to create some great rounded rectangles in the negative space.

I really like when I figure out great patterns like this one to create with my stamps. I love using the positive and negative space to leave some parts of the pattern bare clay and some parts glazed. Sometimes I alternative which parts are glazed and which parts are bare clay. It really gives me so many opportunities from a single stamp!

Check out my Squares series in the planters section of my online shop to see this stamp in action and glazed!

Here are a few behind the scenes shots from my photo shoot of my stamped pattern! This is my baby boy Bennie! He is 15 years old and loves being a studio cat!

Sunflowers

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This is one of my favorite patterns! I think part of the reason I like it so much is that it is created entirely with my own handmade stamps. It’s actually made up of three separate stamps: 1) the center, 2) the petal and 3) the pinstripes. I like how big and full the flowers turned out – they really remind me of large oversized sunflowers. I love how they are so big that they dwarf the smaller sized planters I’ve created with this pattern.

This particular version of my sunflower planters is actually a glaze mistake. Shhh! Don’t tell anybody! I used an amber celadon on each of the sunflowers, but applied the glaze too thin. The end result is more of a leathery brown color than a high gloss amber. I think it works though. It color give the pot a nice, rustic feel and doesn’t compete with any plants that might get potted in it.

Sometimes a mistake is really a happy accident!

Check out all of the specifics of this planter and more in my Etsy shop!

Brick Work

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You may have read my previous post about the time I spent this summer collecting shoe prints in the wild up in Big Bear to kick start some new texture patterns. This is one of the plates I created except there is not a shoe print in sight! During a slow period in folks walking passed the gallery, I decided to press this clay into the sidewalk bricks.

Sidewalk bricks? Yep! See that thick blue line dividing up the sections of the plate? That is the essentially the grout line between the bricks. Pretty cool, huh? I think so.

I liked this version of plate textures so much that each of the other two times I’ve set up to collect shoe prints I’ve gotten at lease one new brick pattern plate each time. The rest of my brick pattern plates are in various stages of the firing process, but I hope to be able to share them with you soon!

Until then, be sure to check out this plate and those with actual shoe prints incorporated in my online shop!

Reaching Up

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It still amazes me.

I can spend all sorts of time on a texture pattern getting it just right as is with no color introduced. Then days pass as the piece dries and goes through its first firing.

That second time a piece is in front of me I’m removed from the pattern creation process and have to confront the work from almost a coloring book perspective. Similar to a coloring book there are an infinite number of ways I can go. Some are good choices, some are bad choices and all are removed in some way (big or small) from the pattern creation.

Completely transforming the work. Every. Single. Time.

It will always amaze me.

Learn more here

Form vs Surface

A few years back, when I was first starting out creating work full time, a really insightful individual at the studio asked me why I felt the need to create functional work. We had been discussing a series of mugs, these great wonky and tipsy mugs, I was creating at the time. Why did they need to be functional? Why couldn’t they be sculptural? Why was I limiting my art by boxing myself into the “functional” category?

That talk ranks up there as one of the more interesting conversations I’ve ever had about my work. That gentleman was more on point about the direction my work was going than I could have ever understood back then.

I’ve always considered myself a functional potter. I make things that people can use whether its for food, keys or plants, each piece can be utilized in some way. My work has not been, and probably will never be, traditional functional work. I’m not trying to compete with the perfection of a well thrown cereal bowl, but instead strive to create something as decorative as it is utilitarian.

There, right there was the crux of that conversation all those years ago. Form versus surface – which is more important to the piece of work being created? Some ceramic artists are masters at form, some at surface decoration and some, a rare few in my opinion, capture the holy grail of both in their work.

Its taken me all this time – four years to be exact – to come to the realization that I AM boxing myself in with my insistence on functionality.

Now before those of you who enjoy my work panic, I’m not planning to completely abandon functional work. I’m just starting to view my work from a different perspective. Its actually the right perspective – one that I’ve heard over and over these past years. Given the number of customer conversations I’ve had about how to hang my plates on walls you’d think I would have realized all of this sooner. Doh!

The most important aspect of my work in the texture design, the form that creates mystery in that design and the glazing that highlights it. Form, for me, is pretty much secondary. There is a lot of freedom in this realization as well as a focus on what really matters in the forms I do create to showcase my surfaces. I can’t wait to see where I go next with this in mind.