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┬ásuch 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!

Tire Tracks

I got interested in tire tracks a little over a year ago when I was creating patterns for a series of work inspired by the gears of pocket watches. While much of the work I created was an abstract view of gears, I had felt it important to incorporate some textures recognizable as mechanical components.

I found and bought this fabulous wagon wheel-sized tire that I use in a couple of ways: 1) to create tracks and 2) face down for a perfect gear reference. You can actually see both uses in the plate pictured. The tracks race across the plate through the middle creating an oval shape. The “gear” is glazed in a pale green in the upper right hand corner.SAM_1032

My favorite, by far, tire is actually a small swivel wheel that must have been used as a castor for a small metal cart or something. It is a great texture tool. First, the wheel itself has variation in its tread from larger to smaller circling it. Second, it is a castor of some type, so it was this great handle/swivel attached to it making for easy rolling across the clay. I don’t even know where I got it from and I’ve been using it for awhile as a background texture in my work.

This little tire is getting front and center coverage these days thanks in large part to all the planters I’m making. Turns out its a great planter texture. (Psst – click the planter picture for available planters!)

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Its so popular as a planter texture that I decided to try it the other day on mugs. You know what? It makes great mug texture too! I love how the swoops and tracks of this little tire turn out different each time. The variation between the positive and negative space when the tire is all by itself just really works with my forms.

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As I shared in my last blog post, I’ve even starting using my favorite tire tracks tool on my plates as well. Check out some examples and more here. Let me know what you think of all these tire tracks – just click the thought bubble to the right of this (or any) blog post’s title to comment!