Tea Bowls 3

I had intended to publish this post last week, but I was in Chicago at the time and having too much fun at the Art Institute and CSO to write about it. Much as I like being consistent with the blog, when I have the opportunity to play in a city like that, my priorities are definitely not in front of my computer.

Anyway, here are the rest of the teabowls from this particular series. Whereas the first group had been fired in the typical gas kiln setup, these went through a reduction fire. During the firing process, oxygen is removed from the kiln, a process that alters the chemistry of the glazes. The result is a palette that tends to have an earthier inclination, and works especially well with pieces that have plenty of texture.

The black fluff in the right corner is Gustave; he always wants to get in the picture.

Let's take a closer look at these pieces:

With reduction firing, the depth of your earthy tone depends in great part on where the piece is sitting in the actual kiln. This one was closer to the edge of the kiln, for instance, so the overall color is more subtle. Personally it reminds me of a marshmallow just as it is starting to get toasted over a fire.

This piece, by contrast, was closer to the center of the kiln, and therefore the fire, so the color is deeper and richer. I ran a needle tool around this piece several times while it was still on the wheel to get this texture.

I used a sponge tied to a stick to create the curves in this piece. The squiggly lines were creates with a pipette. I particularly like the contrast between the warm brown and the almost greenish glaze body. The magic of glaze firing is that you never know what exactly you'll end up getting. With such a mercurial process at hand, I've realized it's often best to not imagine these pieces in their finished form as I'm working on them, that way I'm always pleasantly surprised. It's also a good way to stay focused on the present. 

This piece makes me think of hot chocolate, and reminds me of a rather charming incident that happened to me a few years ago. As an undergraduate studying in Europe, I took a day trip to a quaint little alpine town called Annecy, a place particularly known for skiing. Though it was late March, it started snowing while my friends and I were strolling along the storefronts, and it didn't take long before I was shivering. We ducked into a fancy chocolatier shop for a hot drink, the interior of which was replete with architectural decoration reminiscent of the 19th century. To this day it remains a very pleasant memory for me. 

It took a very long time to complete all the dots on this piece, as I had to go over each one 3 times to make sure they'd have enough dimension to stand out from the main clay body.

Another piece that was close to the center of the kiln, given how deep the brown is in certain areas.

I like the sense of movement in this piece. I created the indentations by grabbing the clay and pressing in the walls while it was still wet. The yellowish color reminds me of spicy dijon mustard.

Making these tea bowls was a nice change of pace from my other work. By deemphasizing figural decoration, I forced myself to concentrate more on the form of the vessels themselves, creating works that can compel the eye and entice the hand without the aid of detailed drawings. I like being able to work in a variety of stylistic modes, and with clay I find I'm much more comfortable working with abstraction than I am with drawing or painting. Like my multilayered monotypes, the opportunity to convey different textures and surfaces on the clay body is what enables me to break out of representation and into the nonobjective realm.

That said, I still like showcasing my drawing abilities, and am working on a new batch of fossil mugs as we speak, so keep an eye out for those in the future.