Pitter Patterns

Around this time last year, I was throwing pottery for the first time. It was a baffling experience, and I spent most of the year throwing botched cylinders, but the effort proved worth it. I've still got a lot to learn, such things unfold over a lifetime, I think, but at least I can now throw basic pieces that are reasonably balanced.

While throwing good forms remains my primary focus, I've begun to think more seriously about glazing and surface decoration as well. As with printmaking, I've got a multitude of ideas that will probably never reach fruition, but one thing I have started to do is make pattern sheets for myself, as lately I've taken to carving patterns into bowls.

The first patterns were improvised, but I like to make the most of my time when I'm in the studio, so rather than sit around and mull over what to do first, I've started creating patterns during my evenings at home. I've been abstracting my more detailed sketches and drawings into basic shapes and forms, allowing me to explore a different style in my work. Here are a few of them:

These rabbits are based on some sketches I did at Bottomless Lakes last summer, when one rabbit crouched long enough for me to get a decent drawing of it.

This pattern was inspired by an experience I had at NMMI a few weeks ago. A great horned owl lives on the campus, and I've seen it a few times perching on the buildings or in the trees. One evening, however, as I was walking to a flute rehearsal, the owl swooped down and flew directly in front of me. It couldn't have been more than 20 feet away from me, and only a few feet above the ground. It was an eerie, beautiful experience, and the image remained impressed in my mind as I created this pattern. I was also thinking of the winged death's-heads you'll find on old gravestones in New England, an image I've known since I was a kid growing up in Maine.

I've talked about the Hondo Iris Farm that I enjoy visiting on here before. Naturally I thought the beautiful flowers they cultivate there would make for some nice patterns.

Even seemingly mundane grasses and weeds can become the catalyst for patterns, as is the case for these designs. 

Not all my patterns are inspired by my Roswell surroundings, though. Others channel my experiences back East.

These three horseshoe crab designs recall one of the last experiences I had in Maine before moving to Roswell in 2013. It was horseshoe crab breeding season, and my mother and I went down to the beach to look for them. They're furtive, but if you move quietly and peer through the sea grasses, you'll find these incredible prehistoric creatures, and feel as though you've been transported millions of years back in time.

At the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, there are these fantastic lamps in the foyer that are suspended from bronze octopus fixtures. I've been the aquarium a couple of times, and there is plenty to enjoy there, but these lamps have always stuck in my mind. The critters in this pattern are squids, and they are more abstracted that the octopus lamps at the Shedd, but the idea of using cephalopods in a decorative fashion remained with me.

And of course, there always has to be at least one lobster pattern:

I was trying out different claw sizes in proportion to the lobster's body with these patterns. The ones at top have the smallest claws, whereas the ones at the bottom have the largest.

Some of these I've used already, others will be tried in the future, but I'm always making new ones, and I'll never have any shortage of patterns for future ceramics.