I’m starting a class in ceramics today, which is exciting, because it will allow me the opportunity to work on some of the stuff I’ve been thinking about and sketching.

Not completely off the table is the churro and micaceous tapestry I’ve been trying to work out for the last three years.  I’ve decided if I do work this, I’m going to go smaller than the original 6′ x 8′ tapestry design.  I also have ideas of mixing silk and ceramics for an installation piece.

The one thing I DO want to develop, and will probably work up some small maquets in, is the idea of a baleen whale tea pot/ strainer.  I’d originally thought of an education aid, with broom straw baleen on a large whale head which I could use in the presentations and donate to the whale watch program when I’m done.  That’s not off the table.  But I also am interested in form, and it occurred to me that with my current interest in animorphic vessels, this would be a great way to explore that.

I also want to have a set of 4 bowls for myself. I’d like to think I can get to a point where I can throw a small, simple set of 4.

And of course, I have 75 lbs of micaceous clay.  I’ve got ideas about using reduction firing on white micaceous whale tale sculptures to turn them black, then using a blowtorch to locally turn areas of the fluke back to white, which would mimic some of the patterning on the back of a humpback’s tail.  I’m not sure whether or not the localized heat needed to alter the color would cause cracking in the fired clay.  It would be an interesting thing to look at.

I also want to make a sculptural planter for a patio succulent garden.  I like the look of micaceous clay for that, but also know that there is an exposure/ longevity issue with the outdoor use of micaceous pottery.  I doubt the pottery would deteriorate in the time I’d be using it for my planting, however.

And even sitting here typing this, I’m getting ideas about building planters, something like featherduster tube worm colonies, with the feather duster worms being replaced by plants in the structure…  and I’ve already decided to do macro versions of echinoderm larvae only in high gloss primary colors.  I would have LOVED to make them large as installation, but that’s impractical for me at this stage in my life.  I mean, what would I do with the darn things?

If I were able to continue ceramic work, if I were building up a body of work instead of indulging my personal whims and making personal use functional and expressive works, then I’d go for it.  I was happy with the results of my last installation piece, even if it got off to a slow start, and I was genuinely touched by the responses to Letters to Myself.

I don’t see having the opportunity or space for another installation piece, which is why any installation work I do will have to be recyclable into other pieces.  The silk and ceramic pieces, for example, will be recyclable… the ceramic pieces on the wood brackets into wind chimes, the silk hangings can be felted onto to make wool and silk scarves.

And while I don’t need to make “100 of the same pot to sell on Etsy” (as my professor put it) it would be nice to sell some of what I make in order to offset the cost of the class.

As much as I love having my hands in clay, I realize that with the current deterioration of my left hand, it doesn’t have a lot of longevity for me, and that I won’t develop the level of skill that would make me a true ceramics artist in the amount of time I have.  Mostly, if I want to have any name as an artist, it’ll have to be in paint or multi-media, things I can do with minimal use of my left hand… or one handed.

And I do  have a show coming up in spring I need to prepare for, and I’ve finally thought of my theme and will begin painting after I’ve gone shopping for more paints…

About Kate

Kate is an artist working in fiber arts, multimedia and ceramics.
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