|LaConner's annual Art's Alive! event is held in November. In 2010, I was invited to participate as one of five emerging artists in the Maple Hall exhibition. The following images are the pieces that I included in this show, and a little information about them all.||
Three Bowl Study – 2010
The three bowls displayed together with
the “Above and Below” theme of dragonfly hovering above the water
(inside of bowl) and sockeye swimming in water (outside of bowl) were
all constructed with the same technique. They are made from a slab
slump molded over a bowl form. The design detail is applied / carved
on the surfaces of the molded clay. The pieces are under-glazed
where desired and bisque fired to Cone 05 (1888 degrees F).
Each bowl was then finished with a
Raku – the pink / copper tone Raku
piece was done with a “copper raku” glaze applied, the piece
brought to 1800 degrees F, and then removed from the kiln while
red-hot and placed into a covered chamber containing combustible
material to go through the reduction (reduced oxygen atmosphere)
process. The iridescence of this glaze was produced through the
reduction process. Raku is a visually exciting process to watch, and
the results are always varied.
Pit Fire – the carbonized / subtle
finish of the pit fire piece is achieved through a low fire
process where carbon materials (wood fiber) and metallic powders
are ignited with the bisque ware in a pit. The pit is covered and
the firing left to proceed for about seven hours. The subtle
pinks and burgundies and smoky black colors are the result of this
method. Note the faint impressions of vegetation on the surface
of the bowl. The bowl was wrapped with leaves before it was
placed in the pit. Again, the results are always varied.
Electric Kiln Fire – the electric
kiln produces the most predictable results. The individual colors on
the dragonfly, salmon and bowl surface are produced by applying
glazes with predictable final colors. The glaze matures at Cone
6, about 2232 degrees F. The surface is a food safe, hard, glassy
gloss with the particular glazes chosen for this bowl.
Raku Dragonfly White Crackle Vase -
This vase was constructed from a slab
wrapped around a cylindrical mold. The dragonfly / cattail motif was
applied to the leather hard surface of the vase, under-glazes applied
in blues, greens, and blacks, then bisque fired to Cone 05 (1888
The Raku glaze “white crackle” was
applied over the inner and outer surface of the vase before firing to
1800 degrees F. The piece is removed from the kiln while it is red
hot, and allowed to air cool for a few minutes, which encourages the
glaze to “crackle”. The piece is then placed into a metal
container which also holds a combustible material (paper in this
case) and covered. The paper catches fire from the heat of the vase,
and, by covering the container, a reduction atmosphere is created
(reduced oxygen). The cracks in the glaze are permanently coated
with carbon smoke, highlighting the “crackle” appearance of the
glaze. This piece is not waterproof or food safe due to the cracks
in the glaze.
Raku Dragonfly large bowl - 2009
The large bowl was formed with a slab
over a slump mold to form the basic shape. The irregular rim
gives the bowl a free-form feel. The relief design of the dragonfly
in a wetland inside the bowl, and flying dragonflies on the outside
of the bowl is applied and carved while the clay is in the “leather
hard” stage. The bowl is first bisque fired to Cone 05 (1888
degrees F) and then fired in the Raku process. The size of this bowl
is unusual for Raku – it is very difficult to create a Raku bowl
this large. The extreme shock to the piece going from 1800 degrees to
ambient temperature in a matter of minutes (10 to 20), rather than
hours as in an electric kiln fire, often leads to breakage,
especially with larger pieces.
The glaze on this piece is copper
based, much like the smaller Raku bowl in the Three Bowl Study, but
with slightly different chemicals. The effect is radically
different, although much of the difference is also due to the
particulars of the firing. Anything can happen with Raku!
“Sockeye Series” bowls - 2010
These bowls are formed with a slab and
slump mold. The difference from the Raku Dragonfly large bowl is
that these bowls were formed on the INSIDE of the mold, not over the
outside of the mold. A paper lining on the mold helped to release
the mold, and also gave the outside of the bowl a “crinkled”
surface, adding to its visual and textural interest. The salmon
encircling the rims of both bowls are actually cut into the rim. The
two sides of the salmon are joined on the bowl, and the fish is
actually partially hollow. Air holes are required to allow
superheated air to escape the body of the fish during the firing
process. Without those small holes, the fish could explode from
The bowls are bisque fired with red and
black under-glaze to Cone 05 (1888 degrees F). They are then glazed
with various colored glazes and fired in the electric kiln to Cone 6
(about 2332 degrees F). The blue glaze appears to be multiple
glazes, but it is actually one glaze that the artist developed from
base ingredients and colorants. Slight variations in the thickness
of the application, vertical vs. horizontal vs. textured vs. curved
surfaces, and even placement in the kiln help to create the blue /
green variations in the final appearance of the glaze. Cone 6 glaze
firing finishes the piece to be food safe and durable.
“Above and Below”
large bowl - 2010
The technique used to
make this bowl was the same as for the Three Bowl Study, only on a
larger scale. The theme is of dragonflies hovering above the water
(inside of bowl) and sockeye swimming in water (outside of bowl).
The bowl is made from a slab slump molded over a bowl form. The
design detail is applied / carved on the surfaces of the molded clay.
The bowl is under-glazed with red, black, and blue colors and bisque
fired to Cone 05 (1888 degrees F).
The glaze is finished in the electric kiln, which produces the most predictable results. The
individual colors on the dragonfly, salmon and bowl surface are
produced by applying glazes with predictable final colors. The glaze
matures at Cone 6, about 2332 degrees F. The surface is a food safe,
hard, glassy gloss with the particular glazes chosen for this bowl.
Salmon - 2010
The freestanding sockeye
salmon are formed with a press mold. The artist made the mold by
carving two relief fish (one for each side) from modeling clay and
then pouring a plaster mold. The two sides of the fish are joined
together and textured. They are then under-glazed and bisque fired
to Cone 05 (1888 degrees F). The final firing is with the electric
kiln, to Cone 6 (about 2332 degrees F).
Up Stream III – 2010 Wall Art
The underwater scene of sockeye salmon
migration is one embedded in the Northwest experience. The piece is
made from hand formed tiles, each individually shaped to form a
jigsaw puzzle that creates the image of a stream bed and flowing
water. The salmon are formed “free-form” into the background
tiles, or as add-on sculptural elements using a press mold for the
basic shape. The individual fish are textured and under-glazed by
hand, individually, then bisque fired to Cone 05 (1888 degrees F).
The glaze process for these pieces is
complex. The use of under-glaze enhances the color saturation and
depth of each piece. The rocks and stream are coated with glazes the
artist has developed personally from base ingredients and colorants.
As part of the glaze process, the artist adds bits of recycled glass
in various colors to the rocks and water to add translucency and
depth to the piece. Each piece is then individually fired again to
Cone 6 (about 2332 degrees F).
The artist’s husband hand crafts a
fine grain Douglas Fir frame for each wall mounted piece. The tiles
are mounted onto cement board built into the frame, grouted, and then
the additional sculptural pieces are attached with a strong epoxy
UnderSea Encounter – 2008 Wall
The underwater scene of Dungeness crab
among sea grasses is familiar to me as I spend many summer afternoons
on the water “crabbing” with friends around Samish Island.. The
piece is made from hand formed tiles, each individually shaped to
form contours that highlights water currents and the sea floor. The
crab are formed “free-form”, along with the sea grasses and other
sea creatures that inhabit the Northwest waters. All tiles and
sculptural pieces are are textured and under-glazed by hand,
individually, then bisque fired to Cone 05 (1888 degrees F). Custom
glazes are added with recycled glass for additional depth, and fired
to Cone 6 (2232 degrees F). The piece is self framing with a boarder
of tiles matching the raised center tiles.
Great Blue – 2008 Wall Art
The wetland scene of a great blue heron
in marsh is a common sight in Skagit County, and a favorite of the
artist. This piece is made from hand formed background tiles, each
individually shaped to form a jigsaw puzzle that creates the image of
a small wetland among fields under blue sky. The heron, cattails,
rocks and dragonfly are formed separately as individual components.
Each piece is bisque fired to Cone 05 (1888 degrees F).
The glaze process utilizes colored clay
slips applied before the bisque fire for added color saturation. The
final glazes were all mixed by the artist from base ingredients,
using a color palette that compliments the natural scene.
Recycled glass is added to some of the
pieces for the final firing to give added depth and transparency to
the finished work. The pieces are fired to Cone 6 (2332 degrees F).
The Douglas Fir frame (made by the
artist's husband) is custom built for the piece. The tiles are
mounted onto cement board built into the frame, grouted, and then the
additional sculptural pieces are attached with a strong epoxy glue.