Sunday, July 20, 2008

Change of Pace

by Eleanor Hendriks

So my once per week (almost) blog has slid to once per month -I didn't plan it that way but that may the fact of summer life. Of course that doesn't mean that nothing has been going on at StudioElan -au contraire! The large order of Apple bowls is finished and on it's way to final destinations. A few smaller custom orders from my Etsy shop are well under way and my shelves are starting to fill in anticipation of a busy fall season.


Apple Bowls ready to go...


I also had something very special happen this past week -I was relieved of my parental duties from 8:30 to 5:30 each day for 5 days in a row. This is a very rare experience that has happened only twice in the last 10 years. I used this time to experiment -free from concerns about efficiency, saleability and practicality. This is a great way to move forward in one's artistic practice.


I focused on creating decorative elements in the wet and leatherhard stages of making. I tried to incorporate elements of my sculptural work into functional pieces. For many years I relied on painted decoration to play up my rather severe thrown forms. Having promised myself that I won't paint hundreds of anything ever again, I now need to develop ways of decorating in the clay stage. I can't show you everything that I was working on because lots ended up in the slop bucket and even more really only happened in my head. I did however, take a few photos along the way while developing some knob and handle variation for jars.


I started with a row of plain thrown jars and lids (sorry-no picture!)


Then I sat down with clay and a bunch of tools and made all kinds of things that could be attached to a jar to function as lids or handles...


I used these three leaf shapes to complement a roundly elegant jar...

I thought the combination was successful, but I've been trying to push myself to more complex forms so I thought I'd see if I could go further with these...

I thought the holes added some excitement to a previously static form but I didn't like the mechanical appearence of the hole -or the ragged edge that pushing the hole through too soft clay created on the reverse side of the leaf...

So I worked on the holes to create a form that might be more likely found in nature...

And this is the completed jar -well except for the firing and glazing -where another whole series of questions must be posed about what will work....


I raised some questions for myself during the making of this jar that I will have to answer by making some more and trying other variations -is the addition of the holes really the best way to add energy to the form? What other ways could I alter the look of the hole that would make it pleasing? Does the jar shape need to be more lively? Could the lip of the jar be altered in a way that would go well with the leaf shapes and add interest to the jar without compromising it's functionality? What about carving?


Here's six more experimental jars -all with their own questions answered, unanswered and unasked...




Once I have a piece that I am happy with (which is really only determined after some percolating time!) then I go into practical production thinking.


For the jar with the leaf shaped handles the thought process might go like this...

Handforming the leaf shapes was finicky and would be tedious in large quantities -what could I do to speed up the process -make a press mould? weigh or measure the pieces of clay used to form the leaves? Make a template? Restrict this type of ornamentation to limited run pieces?

Creating the ornamental holes was unneccesarily awkward while on the jar -I'd have to figure out how to do this step before attaching the pieces but without damaging them during the attaching process.
How exactly am I going to glaze these? -shiny, satin, poly/monochrome -none of my present glaze methods seem to be suitable -more experimenting required!

And so it goes in the quest to develop new forms -no wonder potters often make the same pieces over and over again!

If you have any questions/suggestions about these experiments I'd love to hear them!

6 comments:

Natalie -- NKP Designs said...

Those are beautiful pots! My favorite is the one of the far left with the vine-y curlie cue. But they are all gorgeous pot forms. Thanks for sharing.

Natalie -- NKP Designs said...

It's clear I don't know my right from my left, (clears throat), make that the far one on the right. :)

tmusichans said...

Your work is fantastic! Love those cool handles . . . . adding that "hole" is wonderful!!
Peace,
Todd in Santa Fe

Patricia Griffin said...

Hi Eleanor - Nice to see your process and hope you'll share the "winners" with us! The questions you asked of yourself regarding streamlining and production are worthwhile. I should definitely do more of that. I tend to just wing it and act intuitively -- and have a lot of do-overs to show for it!

Julie said...

Looks nice! I like the leaves... you'll get quicker as you make more (I hand build a lot). For the hole, try a straw, supporting the backside with your fingers. Or one of those hole-punchy things - like a metal straw, except cut off at an angle. Or cut your straw off at an angle! Does McDonalds still have the extra-large-diameter straws?

annewebb said...

How wonderful.. kid-free studio time. (I'm looking forward to that after August 11th. Yippee!) Its great that you took the opportunity to play with new design elements.
I particularly like your tendril/fiddlehead-like attachments on those forms.

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