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How Do You Develop Your Work?

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#1 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 08:27 AM

Thinking about your work when you are not in the studio, do you keep a sketch book? Do you go for walks in the woods to observe natural forms and textures to apply later?

How do you develop your work?

 


#2 Tyler Miller

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 09:56 AM

“I am quite content to go down to posterity as a scissors and paste man for that seems to me a harsh but not unjust description”

― James Joyce, Selected letters

 

That said, I like to copy techniques I see in modern and historical examples.  I never succeed in making an exact duplication, but I like to think I get a good echo of an original going.

 

Nature's too good an artist for me to dare to copy.



#3 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 12:51 PM

Thanks Tyler.

I like the Joyce quote. 

What I intended was not copying nature, but how you look at forms and textures that make you respond through your work. Your reply regarding historical and modern pieces is a good example, but could you reply more specifically. What is it about these pieces that you find challenging?

Marcia



#4 JLowes

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 01:24 PM

One of the more popular items I make is raku animal figures, particularly dogs.  I started with very non-detailed figures, such as the one in my avatar.  After making these for a good while I have started refining.  At first the nose was added as a solid piece, now it is hollow, I used to color the nose, now I add some black on the lips and edges of the lips, more like what my Labrador Retriever actually looks like. Likewise, the legs, feet and hips were added on modeled pieces, but now I use a rib and manipulate the cylinder to created these features.  This last was an spinoff from developing a treat jar where I pushed here and there to created the exterior features from the walls of the jar. This has allowed me to be more time efficient, but also cut down on product loss due to applied pieces falling off after the stresses of raku firing. So, I guess you could say I develop over a period of time, adding to the first theme as each change informed the whole.

 

Other forms that I develop can start with the sketch, where I lay down a map of what I want to make, but the 3-D sketch in clay, and refinements from that, are how I develop other ideas into pieces I produce for sale.  Many start from an idea I see in another product, and go from there into modeling in clay.  At times the sketch book (or any handy bit of paper) will be where a quick thought will be sketched before it leaves, and then I can go forward to develop the idea when I have more or a better time.

 

John



#5 Tyler Miller

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 01:31 PM

Thanks Tyler.

I like the Joyce quote. 

What I intended was not copying nature, but how you look at forms and textures that make you respond through your work. Your reply regarding historical and modern pieces is a good example, but could you reply more specifically. What is it about these pieces that you find challenging?

Marcia

Marcia,

 

I suppose I struggle with the interpretation of historical pieces and the interplay of form, aesthetic, and utility.

 

A Greek amphora is an easy thing to reproduce because the form is so rarified, it's almost a mathematical function.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the designs were laid out with a compass and rule.  But in the revival of those forms by neoclassical potters, etc, the forms are removed from their context of use.  I think Wedgwood ceramics, in all its opulent perfection, can be a little silly.  To make a beautiful, but useful Hellenic/Hellensitic form is something I struggle with.  Psykter-Kraters, I think, could have a great deal of utility. 

 

Folk pottery, especially Japanese wares, are on the opposite end of the spectrum, the forms are almost obscured behind a heavy social aesthetic that I can't penetrate.  The rarified, universal form and utility are obscure.  There are very fine lines between an exquisite, wabi-sabi pot and absolute garbage.  The same can be said of western folk-pottery forms.  There are literally millions of quaint little "ugly" teapots, but how many actually pour tea nicely?  Or conversely, how many functional pots transcend their functionality?

 

That's what I struggle with in historical pots.  The ones that really get to me have a near-perfect triangulation of their historic, socially derived aesthetic, utility, and form.  I can't replicate all three.



#6 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 06:57 AM

Tyler,

That is a very in depth description. Thank you so much. I had a student do a survey of how people responded to forms. The top two choices were s low bellied Sung Dynasty type form and a high shouldered Tang Dynasty type form.

People's choices are always subjective. It is interesting to hear how potters think about these matters.

 

Marcia



#7 Pres

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 09:06 AM

I operate on a sketch book mentality, drawing forms and refining them until I like what I see. Some times these are derivatives of classical forms either Greek, Roman, or Asian in origin. Sometimes a form will sit in a sketchbook for months or years before I figure out how to make the piece/pieces. These are all involving just the form, not the decoration or surface.

 

As to surface, it goes back to watercolor or working with stencils and spray paint, building up layers. I can't draw these in a sketchbook. I know what I am looking for, just haven't been able to get it onto a ceramic surface and maybe never will. Sometimes I feel I expect too much. I travel a bit, going to bogs, and wooded areas. Even though I take lots of pictures(isn't digital great) of trees and rocks and landscapes, it is the micro images that I look to for surfaces in my pots. I am really enthralled with close ups of cranberry bogs, crowberry bushes, patches of moss next to lichen on a craggy rock. Reindeer moss at the edge of a small gravel slide with new growth popping up through the pebbles.  These things occur all over, and can be so beautiful, but so overlooked. Yet immensely difficult to bring about on glazed surface.


Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#8 KateMcCoy

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 08:05 PM

Much of my recent inspiration has come from eggs. I have several breeds of chickens, and they  were chosen for the egg colours they lay; from satiny cream, to a bright robin's egg blue, to a subtle mossy olive green, to a deep dark chocolate. Some of them have a "bloom" on them, almost like a dusting of confectioner's sugar. Some are matte and dry feeling and some satiny and smooth.
 

Everytime I handle them, I want to be able to re-create that colour and texture on a pot or ceramic. To create elegant organic shapes, like the beautiful shape of a perfet egg, and make those colours happen. I want to make porcelain pots as delicate as any egg, but as strong too. With a wall as thin, well, I'll never be able to do that; but I will try.

I like bark and mosses too. And leaves, and water. Ripples are wonderful. And insects. I photograph things, and sketch too. And, if I can't make it in clay, I will paint it in oils.

 



#9 AnnaM

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 10:23 PM

There are certain historical things that pull my heartstrings, particular types of illustration, particular patterns, colour combinations, scenarios. My whole practice is about trying to recreate that feeling, I want to make work that gives people that little sense of nostalgic yearning. As far as surface decoration, I read a lot, and scour old movie images and old books, old magazines from the 50's & 60's. I collect colour combos and themes that grab me. I use photoshop a lot to manipulate images and colour.   As far as form goes, I waver between more geometric japanese-esque 'squarish' forms and more organic shapes and back again. But that really depends on what clay body I'm using. The fritted clay bodies are a bit more plastic than the cone 04 porcelain recipes I've been playing around with so that affects the parameters of what I can reasonably expect to make well too. Concept development is a hard one for me, there's a very fine line for me between what I really love and what ends up looking timeless, and what turns out looking just twee and rubbish.







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