Friday, February 12, 2010

VESSELS: Ammonoidea I - SOLD!

Title: Ammonoidea I
hand built pitcher
14"L x 8 1/2"H x 5" W
embossed designs from handmade stamps & texture plates
stoneware clay, cone 6 glazes
SOLD 02/2010

I went down to the Mystic Art Center today to take pictures of the piece I have in my first members show and discovered IT SOLD!
I thought I had set the price high enough that I'd be bringing it home with me at the end of the show. A price high enough that, in the unlikely event it sold, I'd feel sufficiently compensated so as to not regret letting go of it. And IT SOLD! Whoever you are, thank you!
This was the first time I'd entered the member's show, having felt intimidated in the past by the quality of the work displayed there.
This year I said to myself, "What the heck! Might as well try." Glad I did. It's been a positive experience all the way around.
Story of "Ammonoidea I":

"Ammonoidea I" was formed during a summer thunder storm that gathered as I worked out in my art barn. It's slabs and textures were rolled and shaped entirely by hand. It holds for me the magic of that day. My workbench was a garden cart topped with a piece of plywood, lightning flashing, thunder rolling and rain falling all around as I worked.

The design on the "Ammonoidea I" was made with an original texture plate adapted from a photo of a fossil ammonite, an extinct marine animal, in the Smithsonian collection. I found the reference photo in a desk calendar sent to me by my mom.

The slab of clay used to make the texture plate had dried to the point that it was too firm for shaping into anything else. Rather than break it up for the scrap bucket, it became a useful tool for creating decoration on other pieces. Using a ball stylus and a sgraffito tool I drew the ammonite design into the slab, going over the lines until they were of sufficient depth. This incised slab was then bisque and high fired for durability.

The other texture plates used to emboss the designs on the pieces near the handle and spout were similarly inscribed on scraps left over from other projects, bisque and high fired.

All of these texture plates were made with no particular purpose or finished result in mind. I was simply playing with design, line and materials. The process developed over many months, long before the Ammonoidea vessel was begun.

Texture plates were selected, then slabs of wet clay were then pressed into the texture plates using a rolling pin. The components were cut to shape and joined. I continued to shape the assembled vessel as it dried. It was bisque fired, hand glazed (the glazes where meticulously painted into the ammonoid design by hand, painted, dipped and poured on other surfaces), then fired to cone 6.

All this was before I had my own kiln. Firing and glazing took place at the Stonington Community Center pottery studio, also know as the COMO, where I'm an independent potter.

Patterns for this piece were drawn with sharpie marker on durable plastic quilt pattern grids and cut out, used and reshaped to reflect the eventual outlines of the components as they developed. This will enable me to create other pieces based on this design.

When I glaze, I like to let some of the bare clay show through. I'm drawn to the raw, earthy quality of the unglazed surfaces as they contrast with the high sheen of the glazed surfaces. The unglazed surfaces are intended to extend the connection between the ammonite fossil that inspired this design and earth that sheltered it for millennia. It represents our own origins within the earth, "ashes to ashes, dust to dust," our dependance on earth as our home. The blues and greens of the glazes are ocean, symbolic of the collective unconscious in which we all unknowingly swim. The spiral shell design reflects my understanding of the spiral journey of life.

My work is all about connecting past with present: unearthing artifacts within ourselves, finding beauty and meaning in unexpected places, then shaping a vessel within to hold these. For me, this piece captures all these elements in one unified whole.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations! Kay, that was worth it in all ways :-)
    I am so glad you had the courage to show up and made someone happy! I love the story that go with it, that makes it even more precious! All the best!