Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Time to adapt the donuts

What to do with three leftover clay moebius strips, aka donuts:

This piece is still wet (not fully finished construction, and not bisque-fired)

Here's a quick video...

(For those of you viewing on an iPhone/Safari browser, here's a YouTube video of this piece:

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I've gone to this show a couple other times with Robert, and it's sort of interesting to watch it change as the economy changes.  Fewer and fewer booths with really high-end-esoteric stuff, and more and more merchandise of very spotty interest, incongruence and perhaps a more pedestrian, flea-market-randomness is seeping in.   Still some great stuff though, and I'm glad I went.

Here's a handful of highlights.   Devoting a Sunday afternoon to this became worthwhile after I learned about two styles I wasn't familiar with before:  "Dutch Gouda" (1920s, Dutch) and "Boch Frére"(1930s, French).  

Here's the "Boch Frére" style (sorry, this picture isn't the greatest)

And here's the "Dutch Gouda" style.  Actually, I'm not sure about the lower group, but it's definitely in the same time-frame & general region, I'd say...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Making art/junk in "this economy".

I posted today about a show at the Armory where I saw some interesting things (see next post), but once I got going, I felt a need to document what I've been doing lately.   First, I would describe what I've been doing as "not enough" in the ceramics realm.  This is because my day-job life has been unsettled and draining for the last couple months (left a part-time job I've had for the last year for a new full-time job where I was previously part-timing simultaneously) and the new job "atmosphere", shall we say, is taking some getting used to.  Details of my day-job life is off limits for this blog, but the transition has been affecting how much time I can spend on ceramics and also affecting how inspired I am, or not, in composing art and even thinking of whether pursuing this hobby, if that's what it is, is worth the effort and sacrifice of extra time needed to spend at the new job, or much-needed after-work, total-passive decompression.   Hopefully this will pass and I'll get more inspired again.

It should also be noted, in "this economy" (a phrase that has become just a little too pat - you hear laugh-tracks after the phrase on sit-coms) I am very happy to have a full time job again, after 2.5 years without, and people close to me are also having a very dodgy time applying their high-level, commercial-creative skills into a making a living.   The longer "this economy" goes on, however, the more it just feels like the powers that be have deliberately woven a new fabric of our nation's work-culture, in which everyone just feels on the edge all the time about keeping or having a job.  It kind of feels like this was the intentional outcome of the 2008/9 financial crisis - a culture in which those of us fortunate enough to be working are all so grateful that we dare not demand better.  And those who aren't working are just like deer caught in the headlights.  We've been convinced that we cannot afford universal healthcare; we dare not ask for a raise (or even a salary close to what we made pre-crash); we try not to think about how we'll get by when we have to retire; we spend half our weekends doing work that on Friday was described as urgent but, come Monday, our bosses might not even need, much less take note of - all due to how unsettled business is.   Sorry to be gloomy, but this is the real atmosphere in these times for a person like me, and I don't subscribe to the dictum that only smiley-faces should be documented in forums such as these.  This blog is about my discovery of ceramics, how I've discovered a passion for expressing my creativity through this art form at a particular period of my life, and how the world and my circumstances affect this passion.   If you'd rather I never stray into "the world and my circumstances" in this blog, however, I do value your opinion.

OK, enough, so here's the last piece I finished.  I'm pretty happy with it!   So you know the scale: it's just over 12 inches tall.  I can't imagine really how the world will be made better by this new objet's existence, but here's to that leap of faith...

It's sculpture-clay with chun blue glaze over clear glaze.


Here is a poorly-photographed work-in-progress.   This one might, MIGHT, become my first lamp (!).  I'm using "throwing clay" instead of regular sculpture clay, as an experiment.  I'm liking it a lot, so far - much stronger than stoneware clay, for cantilevering and such, but feels less crude than sculpture clay.  There's a pretty long window in the timing of its moisture-level when it feels like putty that will form and then stick any way you please...

"Pavillion of Art & Design" show Nov. 2011

Hello lovelies...   Instead of parking myself in front of my computer on a Sunday afternoon to edit historical photos for my current job, I decided to visit an art show that Robert recommended I check out, at the 67th St. Armory, called "Pavillion of Art and Design".  It's a random assortment of highly commercial, high-end galleries featuring many works which one would have assumed you could only see in a museum.  Picassos, Légers, Kapoors, Basquiats...   A surprisingly robust selection of ceramics were on view.  Here are some highlights:                               (see all the dealers: )


Here was a wall covered with scarabs with some of the most exquisite glazing you'll ever see.  By some German artist called RaR, I think.


Of note was a floor-to-ceiling divider by Peter Lane (the Brooklynite, not the Londoner):  


Here's a contact-sheet of everything else (much of it non-ceramic sculpture) I found of interest:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Two new pieces, in progress

Hi, sorry it's really been inexcusably long since I last wrote. But at least it's not for want of making new pieces! I'll do a full post about these and more in a few weeks.  But here's just a couple videos of two pieces I am working on right now.

This first one has already been high-fired twice, in "red tomato" glaze.  I intended for it to be complete as it is here, but it just didn't look compositionally finished to me, so I'm working on some amendments. I'll call them "blue horns", for now.

This second one has only been bisque-fired.  I spent all day today sanding it, and I've yet to decide what color(s?) to glaze it.  You'd never know this piece is _not_ white stoneware - it's just very dusty because of the sanding.  "There must have been DUST on those mints!!!"

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Truism #1

"You see, a document has a use, whereas art is really useless. Therefore art is never a document though it certaily can adopt that style."  - Walker Evans

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Spiral Crankshaft"

At last, this buddy is finished.
 I'll go ahead and say it: it's probably my best.   You'll recall from last Fall that this piece was damaged during high-firing - the drippy glaze stuck it to the kiln shelf,

and the kiln-loader-gnomes at the pottery were unable to dislodge it without destroying the base.

Since I worked on it for a pretty long time and, if it weren't for the damage, I would have thought of it as one of my best pieces, I started to imagine ways of fixing it.  Including a "shoe" suggested by the pedagogical sages at the pottery,
 which, due to painstaking measures to compensate for shrinking, took 2 weeks to build but ended up shrinking too much to fit onto the broken base.  Oh, well.  It did turn out a brilliant gold-copper color (not pictured), so I'm keeping it at a cultural curiosity.

Enter, an angel, named Robert Fontanelli, who swooped it up and took it to Woodhaven, Queens, where lives a ceramics restorer who reportedly works for The Metropolitan Museum.   Robert took the J train all the way out to Woodhaven, proving, as if there was the slightest doubt, his sainthood and, returning 6 months later (wha?) to retrieve the item, ultimately earned his platinum-gilded angel's wings.   (Why it takes over an hour to travel 10 miles in the American city with the best public transportation is a scandal and a microcosm of what is wrong with how this country is run, but that's a subject of a different blog...)

Anyhoo, the glaze looks like melted metal, which is what I wanted (iron wash only).  This puppy stands nearly 2 feet tall, and it intrigues people (or so I like to think).  It's biomorphic and mechanical and sort of architectural, all at once, which basically describes what my brain gravitates toward when I'm bopping up & down on the elliptical machine at the gym, daydreaming about what useless tchotchke to conjure into concrete manifestation at the pottery studio.   The restorer reportedly even said, "it grew on me".  Yay, curmudgeonly art-restorer in Woodhaven whose apartment is crammed floor-to-ceiling with broken ceramics likes my work!

Here are some more views.  You can see this piece in person at the upcoming Greenwich House Pottery Members' Exhibition, opening June 2, on view for about a month.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

New piece spins before bisquing

I love this guy.  What is it?  Acid-trip ash tray?  Star-shaped cookie-cutter for cooks on Planet Claire?  Homage to Daniel Liebskind?   Crustacean diorama?

I just like that building it makes me feel a little like I've turned a corner in the direction of "I can make any weird object I can imagine".  Which is sorta my only goal, I guess. 

What color should I glaze it?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

(*** note: see "UPDATE" at end of this post...)  On the heels of the "Gris" piece I just finished, I was going to make a lamp.  I got a little carried away with the form, and it kept toppling over.  Then I started building it on its side.  Then I thought, jeesh, just leave that form on its side and make a horizontal piece, and the lamp be damned.  The form is the bottom-most piece - a sort of figure-8 lying on its side, with an extra loop.

Here's the result, just before bisquing (it's about 30" tall, per usual):

It's a little "busy", I know.  Maybe I didn't know where to stop.  As with the "Gris" piece, I didn't have a plan for what it would look like before I began, or anywhere along the way.  I finished a section, then just imagined the next section and possibly the one after and built it.  Then there had to be a sort of "flourish" at the end - a gesture that makes the entire piece come to its service.  That's how I think of the ribbon-like top piece, which flows down to the base in a graceful, if tortured, way.  At the top, from certain angles, it looks more like a dragon's head than a ribbon (although maybe that's just because I watched "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" again last night) and if you go with the dragon idea, it might look like the dragon is emerging from a chaotic cloud of, well, ashes, and voila, you've got your basic phoenix sculpture.  I suppose every artist at some point channels a phoenix, dontcha think?

(March 6, 2011)    A funny thing happened as I was on the verge of taking the piece to be bisqued... karma from just a smidge too much hubris?   And I had though hubris was just part of the "making art" deal.

 I keep thinking about this one Roz Chast cartoon where the character had purchased a lovely ceramic vase and on the way home the bag "just tapped" against something and when she got home discovered it had shattered into 1 million pieces.  I "just tapped" the work-table with my knee, and, ka-boom, it was all over in a split second.  

I have to say, I'm deeply appreciative of the words of encouragement, post-disaster, I've gotten from like a dozen of my compatriots at the ceramics studio - urging me to continue working in this vein, despite the, um, "structural failure" of this piece.   Thanks to all for boosting my morale!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Enough with the old series, onward spontaneously! GRIS sculpture finished!

I've named this piece "Gris" because of its color and because another artist in the studio said it reminded her of Juan Gris' work.  He happens to be my favorite Cubist painter.

After glazing: a very pale lavender-blue (china white over "don reitz green" glazes; high fire; "T1" sculpture clay)

 detail shots:
This is my first sculpture not in the "step-spiral" series, since I started that one (which I think is now finished...).  It's going so much faster because it's just attaching slabs together, whereas each layer of the spiral steps was like its own sculpture, which although they were simple, they had to be sorta perfect, and then I had to assemble all of those together, again with the idea of achieving a form as close to the perfect geometric form in my head.   This new one I had only a really vague notion of what it would look like finished, even after I had done the base.  Just sort of letting each step dictate itself as I work my way up.  I'm having more fun with it because it is more spontaneous and I can incorporate what might be mistakes and make them "happy accidents" - one of my favorite things about making art: you can transform accidents into assets in about two seconds.  

Before high-firing (after glazing: china white over "don reitz green")
Before bisquing: