Sunday, September 15, 2013

Unearthing an artist's statement - didn't know I had one!

I'm getting my résumé together, and discovered that my "commercial" web site ( ) has an empty link to a "bio".   I sorta remember a bio I wrote for my last job, so I searched my computer.  Instead, I found the below, which I think I wrote in 2008 or 2009, but I happen to still like fairly well.  Reading it and looking at the ceramic pieces I've made since then, it strikes me as, shall we say, "illuminatingly dissonant".  If I draw inspiration from the natural world, a notion originated by the Romantics, it strikes me as odd, but no less authentic, that my sculpture is totally abstract and often geometrically obsessed:

"Born in Oregon, much of the creative inspiration I drew from early in life was rooted in the awe I have for the natural world.  The forest, the mountains, the ocean - overwhelming visual stuff that makes everything that man does seem small and insignificant - it’s the stuff the Romantics of the late 18th/early 19th Century called “the sublime”.   I remember this feeling long before I had ever heard about the sublime - driving along the Columbia River Gorge, age 10, viewing a distant mountain formation that clearly began far beneath the Earth’s surface and extended up from the river, diagonally, a few miles, a few thousand feet up in the air.  I thought, that mountain has been there for millions of years and will be here for millions more, yet I, a tiny mammal at its base for a few minutes, am contemplating its massivity, dynamic shape and endurance and I am impressed by it - how absurdly pitiful and yet extraordinary this act of perceiving and appreciating the mountain is.  Later I read how that was an experience of “the sublime” - something beyond mere beauty - elemental, iconic and primordial.   Bizarrely, it seemed to me later in life when I began to appreciate modernist art, this experience of the sublime can occur even with something man-made if it is a similarly distilled essence of a form (however it may be perceived - e.g., music, or a taste of exquisite food, or even a smell)."

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Conceited - helix vase in progress

Just an update on this helix piece.  I did end up making 2 of them, and decided to fire them at Cone 2 instead of the usual bisque+high fire (Cone 10).  Everyone in the ceramics studio who gives me the time of day also advised me that the cantilevering structure would result in severe slumping at Cone 10, but that nothing like that would happen at Cone 2.  So, they're now waiting for Cone 2 firing, with a big sign on them that says "fire slowly - greenware!"  The clay is so thick at the base that I'm afraid they will blow apart if the firing isn't super-slow.  After the Cone 2, I will glaze them at low fire.  The logic is, first, they have to be fired hot enough to be reasonably hard, and hot enough for the two different clay bodies' post-fired color-contrast to come out.  Second, I want them glazed to be consistent with the other members of this two-clay-bodies series and for them to perhaps hold water (we'll see about that...).  As with almost all my pieces, this is apparently an experiment.  Anyhoo, here they are in their swirling glory, pre-firing:

here's the link if you can't see the video on this page:

Here's a piece I'm working on, which is sort of a marriage of two threads I've been doing over the years - the segmented-spiral theme, and the alternating-clay-types/colors vessels theme.  Robert said, "it's very Rolf."

It's a bit of a conceit, or a folly, or something, to think this could legitimately claim to be a functional piece (a vase), but maybe that's the point.  At this stage in my making ceramic pieces, I'm definitely looking for a point to it all, besides just being fun to do - if my work is to have any interest as fine art beyond the (arguably) decorative.

It's going to be one of a pair, or even more, and the companions might eschew the functional conceit, just to mess with the viewer's brain (another conceit).

Here's a link to this video on YouTube, if you can't see it here. >>


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Zebra-striping, branding!

Early last Fall I started experimenting with using alternating layers of sculpture clay and throwing clay, for creating a very rough-hewn color and texture contrast, and the few pieces I had done were semi functional. For Christmas gifts, for some unlucky family members, this year I decided to incorporate this technique into an experiment in creating a "line" of nominally functional everyday ceramics - coffee cups, tumblers.  Apologies to those who already saw this on Facebook...

Here are the results:

Saturday, April 27, 2013

You Win Some, You Lose Some, Then You Win One

First, the good news: this is the first time I've gone ahead and re-built from scratch a piece that had failed to survive firing (the bad news was that this piece did not survive firing the first time around - when I had used Throwing Clay, and apparently hadn't paid close enough attention to the strength of its connection-points, in its construction). Here's the version which didn't survive, just before firing:

And here's the re-created piece, after successful glazing & firing: