Sunday, December 5, 2010

These two unusual double-handled pieces were said to be found together. A nice set.


This cup is identified as a tankard, although it is too curvy and diminutive to approach what I consider a tankard, but the thin strap handle is kind of mod-feeling.


a bronze foot and a marble hand that have become separated from their owners.

The Daily Grind

I love finding clay figurines, from any time and culture, that depict people at work. Here we see grinding and baking in what appears to be a clay oven.

Wild Kingdom


When I saw these at the Met, I thought of the similar type things I've seen lately made by Julie Knight or Deb Reed. I have always loved these cutaway-style feet.

There's No Stoppin' the Cretans from Hoppin'

A very early cup from Minoan Crete is unglazed except for the iron-rich slip decoration over a calcium-rich lowfire clay body.


Some evidence of the longstanding preoccupation we here at the Dojo have had with pinecones. It was nice to stumble upon this second century A.D. roman terracotta jar, said to have been found in Gaul, and described as having "barbotine decoration". A little digging leads me to state that barbotine is the same technique I would call slip trailing, namely, piping a semi-liquid slurry onto a leatherhard pot to produce a raised texture ( not the way my vase shape was decorated ).

Alongside the decorative, the breathtaking, and the puzzling ancient artifacts it is also fun to see this comparison of unglazed, strictly functional jars which present minor variations on the same container. The ability to easily seal up the top for efficient transport, the double handles to enable two people to off-load and carry, and the tapering base that may have helped them nest together better when laid on their sides were the considerations that dictated these shapes. Clays from different locales show a range of color and texture.
Excavations which describe finding literal hill-sized castoffs of similar jars give a perspective onto their discardability, however surprising that may seem to us now.

This lineup of utilitarian large vessels made me think of of a project arraying oversize narrow-necked bottles made by GHP resident artist Will Coggin last year.

More Met Museum

Here is a roundup of some pottery shapes that caught my eye on my last visit to the Greek & Roman study collection at the Met. I found that lots of things reminded me of work being done by some of the potters I know from GHP.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ai Weiwei @ TateModern

I was intrigued by the sudden decision to change the terms of exhibition of this large installation piece, which involved 100 million sunflower seed replicas hand-crafted from clay and slips over the course of several years by the inhabitants of the "porcelain city" of Jingdezhen, China. Being unable to see the actual clay units, I relied on Roberta Smith's New York Times article, as well as the Tate Modern's video presentation of the work's making to help me envision the sight and sound of what it must have been like to traipse through the space and pick up handfuls of the realistic-seeming seeds which, nonetheless, did fall short of being truly lifelike, for my money, from what the video shows. Still, it must have been lovely... . In the documentary video, the artist is shown walking through a large room filled with the seeds. He speculates that viewers will initially take them for the real thing, since the scale of such an undertaking is too mind-boggling. He imagines they might pick up a seed to test it in their mouth ( which I wouldn't urge doing if the slips get some of their color from manganese ). My hunch is that they didn't have a glaze coating over the slips, and perhaps if the units were done all in a once-firing, that the surface was being abraded a great deal thus kicking up what was reported to be visible clouds of dust when viewers came into contact with the piece. With raw clay, or even underfired clay, dust will be an issue. And of course, where there's visible dust, that means that there must also be a quite high amount of the never-visible sub-micron particles that pose the threat of lung damage. The articles I saw about the curtailment of the audience-participation aspect of Weiwei's piece spoke of concern for viewer's health, but failed to mention the more sustained danger that museum staff would be subject to. Walking through a dustcloud, especially if you are asthmatic, is a bad idea, but to be subject to days, even months-long exposure through no choice of your own, well that's another matter. In a post re: Zhang Huan's piece at PaceWildenstein in June of 2008, you can see a Clay Dojo entry addressing similar concerns. That said, thanks for all the writing on clay-related artwork and pots that you have contributed of late, Roberta. We here at the Dojo appreciate .. . .. . . .. .

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

This mug shape is hard to translate into a successful photo. It is one where I went perhaps slightly overboard in the number of ring protrusions I attached, and they even impinge into the interior of the cup, which makes it funky but trickier to drink out of. Not good for a left-handed sipper. I kind of wanted to push the idea though, to see what would happen. This glaze is called Val's Green at my studio, named after its formulator, the potter Val Cushing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Work In Progress

This tall vase-type shape is made using a very coarse, forgiving sculpture clay that allows for a prolonged period of work on the piece without its drying out. I was relieved when it successfully came through the bisque firing without any of the rings cracking or falling off. Right now I am debating a couple of ideas of how to glaze it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Life On Mars

This grouping of four very small cups were made from a white stoneware clay body then fired to cone 10 reduction in a gas kiln after being glazed with a White Shino glaze. The mottled, grey-to-black coloration is due to carbon trapping, which occurs during the firing.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

County Fair

Getting out of the city was great. Seeing lots of amazingly patterned poultry was inspiring.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Anna Sew Hoy, "Holes", @ Sikkema Jenkins Gallery

This New Zealand native works now in Los Angeles, and her show was an installation of nine or so pieces.

My favorite was this floor piece that really seemed to set up some sort of dialogue between the massive, lumpy clay part and the stripped-away jeans, reminding me of what perhaps could remain after a gazillion trips up and down the mountain by Sisyphus and the rock, finally turning them into one thing.

From some angles this piece looked like it was wearing a thong, or maybe that the clay boulder had given the jeans a good thrashing, perhaps eroding the greater part of the threads in endlessly tumbling around.

This clay multi-hedron was wearing black jeans, and seemed comfortable on cinderblocks. Closer inspection revealed a cache of trashy plastic shades.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010