Archive for the ‘Ceramics’ Category

Lichens and Glazes

Monday, July 4th, 2016

When my chosen medium was clay, I used a lot of layered, often gritty glazes. In the back of my mind always thinking lichens.

Today when I was sweeping the deck, to my delight I found this piece has actual lichens growing on the surface.

Sculpture on Deck

Sculpture on Deck with Lichens

The piece was made in a class at Ohio State in the early 80s. The clay is a buff colored sculpture body with some nice aggregate. The piece was bisque fired to cone 5. A cone 05 lithium blue glaze was applied for the base color. Then low-fire lead glazes were applied. The last fired to cone 015.

The piece has been on the deck since 1994. It looks so much better with the addition of lichens.

Sculpture on Deck with Lichens

If interested in viewing lichen glaze surfaces, check out Lana Wilson’s work. Lana’s text, Ceramics: Shape and Surface has some great information for the beginner; and it also has loads of information on how to achieve gorgeous glaze surfaces. The text is available on Lana’s website.


A note about my use of lead glazes. Yes, they are gorgeous low-fire glazes. But lead is potentially dangerous. I haven’t been used lead glazes for several years. Since I have been attempting to use safer materials and processes, I reluctantly decided to remove all potentially toxic ceramic materials from my studio. I had quite the stash. I was fortunate that during the yearly clean-up, the materials were accepted for disposable without cost.

Did I really remove all of the lead from my studio? Well, I did keep a small bag of a leaded frit, just in case. I also found a small sheet of lead that I kept. It is a lovely soft material. I used it to line and wrap portions of boxes.

Lead Detail

Detail of a piece in my Make Your Own Luck series.
The vertical section is wrapped in sheet lead.
The nest-like material is lead wool.
The three objects are whole nutmeg.
Nutmeg was used for luck.
If consumed it could be deadly.


Books and the Book Series

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Books have always been a part of my life. When we were children, my mother would take us to the library. When I was in college I would spend part of a day each week wandering through the stacks. After grad school, I started my library. I have nearly 1,500 books. There are books on art, artists, film, graphic design, gardening, horticulture, novels, children’s books, textbooks, and miscellaneous books on random topics.

I love reading, the way books feel in my hands, turning the pages, the fragrance of paper and ink. I was taught to respect books, but then something happened. I found that I really liked underlining. That grew to writing in the margins and using any white space to record ideas for possible work. Then I started folding corners and pages.

Books

When I open one of my books to locate a quote or some notes that I have made, it is quite enjoyable to revisit the story, to read a few pages or several chapters. To remember the first time that I read the book.


I resisted reading e-books. My iPad is thin, slippery, and has a bit of glare. How would I dog-ear pages, write in the margins, underline…

I tried reading a few books on my iPad and in doing so found that I could customize the text. I could make the text large enough that I no longer needed to wear glasses. I also found that I quite like reading light text on a black background. And I could read in the dark.

Then I found how easy it was to highlight, bookmark, and make notes. I could download the lot from amazon. A few adjustments to the downloaded file and I could import the text into my database of quotes and phrases. Yep, I have a database of words, phrases, quotes.


I have thought about making books, but one thing always stopped me. What will be on the pages? The thought of an empty book, seemed incomplete. I actually attempted constructing a few books over the years.

Twig Books

A couple of books constructed of materials collected from nature, fabric, paper, copper wire, and waxed linen cord. I saved a couple to remind myself why they did not work.

I also made a series of small books constructed of hardware cloth covers coated with Egyptian Paste. The covers were fired to cone 016. Hot enough for the clay to mature, but not hot enough to melt the hardware cloth. I cut copper and aluminum flashing for the pages. I bound the pages and covers together and fired the lot.

Egyptian Paste Book

Egyptian Paste Book Open

The pages have a lovely surface, but they are still empty.


The past several years I have used coded messages in my work. It is quite enjoyable to figure out ways to put text in my work that cannot actually be read as text but is seen as pattern. Well, the text could be read if the code is deciphered. And since I am not a cryptographer, it isn’t too difficult to figure out.

Dont Detail

This is a detail of code in a work that I have since completed. I used Morse code with rust yarn for the dots, gray yarn for the dashes, and cream yarn for the spacers. The bottom left corner has gray, rust, gray which is dash-dot-dash or a k.


I have decided to revisit books again with the idea of including coded text. Each book will have a theme: connection, grief/loss, invisible/visible, kindness, memory, nature, perception/seeing, power, reflection, self, truth…

My plan was to make wool knitted and fulled pages, with stitched coded messages, and dried and stitched plant bits. I knitted all sorts of stitch patterns to see which stitches would work best.

Then something unexpected happened. I had a dream, an epiphany. In the dream rather than making books I was making pages and framing them as artifact. Framed fragments of pages would be more compatible with my body of work. Was my creative self giving me a message or was the dream a mash up of a bunch of things that I had been thinking about throughout the day? No matter, I like the idea.

I began to approach knitting differently. Rather than knitting rectangles for book pages, I wanted the pieces to be odd shaped.

E wrap Purl Cable

The top portion was knitted. The piece was removed from the loom, rotated 45º, returned to the loom, and then the cable pattern was knitted.

Top Portion
Row 1 E-wrap (each peg twice)
Row 2 Purl (wrap)

Bottom Portion (Cable)
Row 1 Knit
Row 2 Purl
Row 3 Knit
Row 4 P,P, Twist Knit, P,P, Twist Knit…

This is the back of the above piece. It is important that the back is interesting because both sides of a page can be visible.

E wrap Purl Cable


This combination of stitches is quite nice. There does seem to be some consistency in my choices. It appears that I like knot-like stitches.

Figure 8 with E-wrap

Row 1 Figure 8
Row 2 E-wrap

If after fulling, the fabric still has holes, I plan to either weave in yarn or an i-cord.


Linen Stitch

The idea was to knit a long piece, full it, and fold it in half to create a signature. Then bind several signatures together.
Row 1 K all
Row 2 K, S… K
Row 3 K all
Row 4 S, K… S

It will be fun to see how the series evolves.