Clay Adventures, Part Three

Welcome back, fellow art explorers! Last week I shared with you about the serving dish I made in my beginning clay class. Today, I'll tell you about the house I built.

Okay, an image of a house.

Anyway, for the final project, we were to make a hard-slab container resembling an architectural form. The main facade was to be rectangular in form, while a curving, cylindrical form would constitute the back, leaving in a hole in the center.

My interpretation of this final project was partly inspired by literary sources. At the suggestion of a friend, I had recently read Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, which is a fictionalized series of conversations between Marco Polo and Kublai Kahn. It's a book that addresses the subjectivity of memory, the limitations of language, and the persistence with which our own preconceived notions, expectations, and desires influence our interpretation of the world.

As I worked on the hard-slab construction, I found reflecting on both the book and my own memories of Venice when I was studying abroad in college, memories which at this point are probably as contrived and fanciful as Marco Polo's meandering descriptions in the book. Not surprisingly, perhaps, my facade took on a pseudo-Venetian appearance.

Yes, that's a giant crab and a small dinosaur. I wanted my house to have a dilapidated look, as though eons had passed since it was last inhabited. The idea of time passing in such great quantities made me think of one of my favorite novellas, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Everyone knows about the Eloi and the Morlocks, but in the book the Time Traveler goes even further into the future, and is at one point chased by giant crabs. 

You think I'm joking? Go read it for yourself.

As for the dinosaur, I put it there because I initially needed something else back there besides a tree, and didn't want to do a crab again. By this time I was playing with the idea of anachronism, and decided that my house no longer existed within the constraints of a conventional linear timeline. 

I also just really like dinosaurs, as is evident in a recent post about cookies.

For this project we used underglaze, which meant that I painted the piece in all these different colors before it was fired. Unlike the glazes I used for the bowl, which looked nothing like the final color, these hues were essentially the same after the were fired, only slightly more saturated. Here's what it looked like after it emerged from the kiln:

I was at a loss about how to use this piece initially, but then I remembered that my kitchen drawer was overflowing with wooden spoons and other utensils:

Overall it was a fun class. I have a lot to learn about clay obviously, but it's an outlet that I'd like to continue exploring, both for the tactile experience of making three-dimensional forms and for the ideas the process seems to stir up within me.