Post Bacc Blog
My Time As A Post Baccalaureate
RECAP OF WEEK 1
[8/26/19 to 8/30/19]
In order to keep myself on track this year and measure my progress, I put together a list of specific goals I would like to meet during my time as a Post Bacc. I also drew out some quick sketches of vessels I have been thinking about for a while. I like to get all of my bouncing thoughts out on paper and put them on the wall in my space so that I can constantly visualize what I should be working on or towards. This is my version of mind mapping.
Here are two vessels that I began working on this week. Building with coils and slabs is a drastic change of pace for me because I typically work on the wheel. I am happy to be stepping out of my comfort zone with my building technique, and I have been enjoying going “back to basics” and using only hand building. I am also interested in pushing the idea that the evidence of an artists hand and touch being left behind can be translated as one out of two marks on a line, connecting the maker and the future user. My fingerprints are left on the surface of this vessel which will (hopefully) be handled by other people and therefor allow the user to physically feel a connection to me and my making process.
It can be really tricky to visualize a handle on a vessel. When I am really struggling I sometimes take a photo of the piece I’m working on and then play around with drawing handle designs in photoshop.
I am also throwing cups with a new clay body so that I can test surface and color. With intricate design work and specific use of color it is difficult to achieve an accurate test from a simple test tile. You will see a better sample of color, texture, design, and composition when looking at the surface of something bigger and more 3 dimensional.
MY GOALS FOR THE YEAR
1.) Test firing techniques including (but not limited to) ^6 Reduction, ^6 Soda, ^3 Soda. I have a growing interest in atmospheric firings because of the fact that the nature of the firing process (and preparation) brings together a community of like minded individuals who end up working together to accomplish a common goal. I am also intrigued by the uncertainty of any specific outcome when it comes to glaze color/ surface.
2.) Because I intentionally leave un-glazed areas quite a bit when making functional work, I want to experiment with Terra Sig in hopes to make surfaces look and feel less dry and also to maintain the functionality of the work.
3.) I want to challenge myself this year by leaping out of my comfort zone in many ways. One thing that I have been wanting to do is start to make smaller objects, as large vessels seem to be a comfortable object for me to make. I think that some smaller components can also aide my compositions when installing work. I am hoping to teach myself through this process that a vessel doesn’t have to be large in order to be important.
4.) My current artist statement speaks about blurring the line between functional and sculptural work and I am interested in exploring that more. In order to really dive into this i need to dabble more with sculptural elements as most of the work I’ve made is functional.
5.) Lastly, I intend to have at least two exhibitions during my time as a post bacc. One will be held in New Albany Indiana, and the other in Louisville Kentucky.
RECAP OF WEEK 2
[9/2/19 - 9/6/19]
I have had this idea in my head for too long, and it has finally come to life. I wanted to make my own version of a “free re-fill” popcorn bag. This vessel was slab constructed with pinched coils on the rim and built up on bottom to make an elevated foot. I am interested in how you can use something as simple as a LINE to guide a viewers eye in any direction you desire. In this case the viewers eye is drawn from top to bottom to rest on the texture of pinched coils, which actually resemble popcorn.
A Matching Set of Tumblers
I finished this set of tumblers, which are intended to be part of a set with the pitcher I made last week. These are another example of objects that I am hand building (rather than using the wheel). So far, I am really excited about the direction my work is going. I think finger marks left on the surface of clay leave behind a path of the making process, that the viewers can travel along as they see and hold a piece. I want to push the idea that certain surface finishes are viewed and understood slower than others. In this case, these pinched tumblers are seen at a slower rate than something with a smooth surface that was thrown on the wheel.
After a lot of thought, I felt that objects with a handle would better relate to their matching pitcher, so I decided to turn those tumblers into steins. I am always trying to find better ways to make and design a handle. Per my suggestion in last weeks blog, playing in photoshop is a great way to design a handle shape but, lets be real. We don’t always have time to pull out a laptop and get on photoshop, although most of us have some kind of app on our phones that allow drawing with your fingers on any photo taken. Sometimes I use snapchat to draw handle designs and play with what looks best when I don’t have time for photoshop.
I also photographed some of my old sculptures for entry to an exhibition and seeing these pieces again got me thinking of nontraditional handle designs that would better relate to the drawings and prints I use in my work. I am going to try “stealing” some of own my sculptures to see what these elements would look like as handles, lids, feet, knobs, and spouts. The collision between sculpture and function seems natural to me because, after all, every pot is a sculpture itself.
Cup Bottoms With Color…
Here are the mugs and cups I began working on last week. These are ready to be bisqued now that they have signature details inside the foot and color on the surface. Most of these cups will be used as test tiles for printing techniques. It has been 3 months since I have printed on clay so I feel a little out of practice. I am hoping that practicing will assist me when it comes to color combinations, scale, composition, and line weight. I also plan to put these cups in a cone 6 soda firing.
RECAP OF WEEK 3
[9/9/19 - 9/13/19]
This week I began working on another set of multiple objects. I have been thinking a lot about the multiple parts that make up one whole. When installed, this set and its stand will become one whole piece who’s function is to be a place of storage for this set of bowls, and who’s purpose is to be visually explored. But when viewers interact with the piece by removing one of the bowls there is then a different function for that part of the whole, to be handled and eaten out of.
Slip Printing (By Hand)
I decided to try drawing my map designs with clay this week. There have been some technical problems, but a little trial and error research should solve those issues eventually. I am hoping to use these components as part of a wall hanging installation.
The relationship between humankind and the machine has been on my mind recently. If we consider the machine to be more efficient and therefor better for the job, what is lost when efficiency is gained? Consider the many cultures throughout history, like Korean Onggi Potters, who made utilitarian works by hand for commercial benefit. These craftsman considered their studio practice equivalent to carpentry, placing a great deal of value on perfecting their trade. If you consider their mass production and efficient techniques, these men and women could be considered machine-like, although they are not machines by any Webster definition.
Here is another component to the set I mentioned above. I am playing with hand printed slip designs as spriggs. With proper execution, I am hoping that this will cause a wall installation to relate better to any pots that are also within the installation.
I imagined this as a chili serving set, so this vessel is made to store and serve the chili into one of the 7 bowls that match. When making sets of objects, I have been thinking a lot about vessels that would give and take from each other. I think the relationship between these objects can become a metaphor to human beings and how we interact with others. Most people are either givers or takers, and some are a little bit of both. It seems like most social groups have one main giver (the chili crock, sangria pitcher, tea pot, etc.) and lots of takers (the chili bowls, tumblers, tea cups, etc). Which one are you?
RECAP OF WEEK 4
[9/16/19 - 9/20/19]
I have been terribly sick for more than half of this week, so it was not as productive as I would have liked. That being said I still managed to work in the studio a couple hours per day.
I fired a bisque this week so I got a chance to test my hand printed slip drawings firing to ^06. So far I am having a lot of failure and some small success with these, so I will continue testing. The most successful bits were those that had two layers of slip drawing on top of each other. They are less fragile when thicker, so this will probably be the route I will explore further.
Empty Bowls, Bowls
I completed making 20 bowls for a possible empty bowls event at IUS (or any other sale). They are all slightly different sizes and forms, which I enjoy. When I am working in production mode, I like to maintain some evidence of the non-perfect human condition, therefor every object is made uniquely but with some constants.
EX: clay color, repeated textures, and related color application
I finally finished this chili crock so it is now drying out in preparation for bisque. After bisque I plan to do a lot more surface design work with color application and printing. The handle I designed for this vessel is meant to relate to and become a more 3-dimensional version of the hand printed slip drawings. It is also a loose reference to mechanical levers from machine shops. Growing up in an industrialized area of Indiana (near Gary and Michigan City) I find many industrial references sneak their way into my work. Even the form of this vessel references a water tank, grain silo, or other storage tank used on chemical plants.
RECAP OF WEEK 5
[9/23/19 - 9/27/19]
This week I tried another method of hand slip printing where I printed directly on sand that was already on a kiln shelf. I encountered many problems printing on paper previously because the paper became too rigid for the delicate greenware stage of these slip drawings. Absolutely no cracking from shrinkage occurred when printing on sand, which was a great success. That being said, I am not sure that I love the texture left behind by the sand on the backside of these drawings. Also, the entire “map” warped in many places, so it does not lay flat anymore. I haven’t decided how I feel about this, but never the less I am going to continue testing this slip printing method because of the fact that I had no cracking. I am hoping to try printing two or three layers of slip to see if the thicker piece of clay will warp less in the end.
I also began to add underglaze prints and clear glaze to my “test tile” cups from a few weeks ago. I am always trying to find more ways to add another layer of visual information to the surface of my work, as I find myself drawn to and more engaged with work that is multilayered and dimensional because the longer you look, the more you discover. I’m hoping that soda firing will become a cohesive layer added to the surface of my work in the future, so I am excited to soda fire the rest of this set next week to see how I like that finish.
RECAP OF WEEK 6
[9/30/19 - 10/4/19]
Travel and Networking
This week I witnessed history in the making by attending the first ever Indiana Potters (Clay) conference. This was an eye opening experience for me as I did not realize beforehand the influence that the state of Indiana truly had on the ceramics community both in the past and present. The older I get the more appreciation I find for my home state of Indiana, and this conference certainly added to those feelings.
While at this conference, not only did I get the chance to network and meet tons of new people, I also was able to see lots of ceramic work. Pictured below are some memorable pieces. From top left to bottom right the artists are Zach Tate, Greg Stahly, Mathew Metz, Michael Poorman, Sigrid Zahner, and Sarah Pike.
Wise Words By Malcom
“When you fail, you have either done too much or too little.”
“Without any problems, you never get the chance to come up with solutions.”
“My work is fed by an improvisational lifestyle. It dances between glossy surfaces and bare clay.”
“Digital tools need us makers using those tools because we bring a unique and specific sense of reality.”
“Throwing something is doing it ‘by hand’ because we use our hands to throw.” (speaking about throwing verses hand building)
“Don’t approach ceramics with a narrow and outdated view on the field.”