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A Little Summer Project – Extruded Tumblers June 23, 2009

Posted by Elena in ceramic, pottery, Process.
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Extruded earthenware tumblers, waiting for decoration

Extruded earthenware tumblers, waiting for decoration

Tumblers, mugs, and tea cups are a great way of experimenting with new techniques and glazes. They are easy to make in quantities without serious commitment to one particular technique or spending too much time on one piece. And it is easy to adjust and refine them as you progress from one to the next until you are completely satisfied with the finished product. They are also great for the beginner who is trying to define his style or just practice working with clay.

I made a few tumblers from red earthenware using an extruder. Extruders are great (except for the cleaning part) but depending on the volume of the barrel and the diameter and thickness of the extruded shape, they will limit the number of pieces you can make in one batch (unless you are willing to reload). I extruded the cylinders using the hollow dye (~3” diameter), cut them in equal pieces of ~4.5” tall and joined at the bottoms with the round slabs, reinforcing the seams with thin coils and smoothing. The cylinders come out of the extruder looking a little sloppy for my taste, so after I attached the bottoms, I compressed the walls with a wooden spoon and then altered the shape slightly, stretching the cups from inside out, to give them an organic look.

I let them dry completely and then smoothed all surfaces with a scrubby. And here they are, waiting for the most exciting part – decoration.

Thoughts about the meaning of modern ceramic pottery work June 9, 2009

Posted by Elena in ceramic, My research, pottery, Thoughts.
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I frequently find myself thinking about what should the work reflect to be able to leave its mark for future generations? Should it tell a story, or should it just be a satisfying form that cannot actually be attributed to any particular historical period? Should the artist even bother with telling a story in his work or should he just focus on visual impact/functionality of the piece?

I understand that for most artists it is a matter of personal preference and probably subconscious choice. But looking back at the long history of ceramic art, it seems that the most impressive and timeless pieces always tell a story. Most frequently they seem to refer to (and this is not meant to be all-inclusive):

            – biblical stories

            – mythological tales

            – historic events

            – fairy tales

            – everyday life and functions (like hunting; fishing; agriculture; social      events; functional craft; animals; plants; trade; etc.).

 So should I be inspired by modern politics in my pottery studio? Well… it would probably not be my first choice (maybe not even a second one). Biblical stories and fairy tales have been done and redone over and over, and unfortunately there aren’t so many new ones that make my heart sing. Some artists are evidently inspired by modern life and incorporate modern technology (such as neon lights; holograph; robotics; 3D printing, etc.) into their ceramic work quite successfully… and it seems to work for now. Only time will tell if it will still impress art lovers, say, in the next century, when who knows what other seemingly impossible technological creations will become a part of everyday life.

 So I guess I’ll continue to search for clues. But in the mean time I would be very interested to know what others think, or if they think about it at all.

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