From Utility to Sculpture

I have been perfecting the cylinder and its form, as well as handles.  I have spent so much time on that stuff it’s crazy to think about.  functional pottery will always be a part of me and I will always do it.  but, my current direction heads into abstraction.  I am no longer concerned about making ceramics useful, I want to create art, and the more I make, the more comfortable I am with taking clay to the next level, really taking advantage of its properties and making forms that bend and twist for no reason but aesthetics.

Here are a couple forms I am working on.  I am going to carve into this large one.  The finished product will be “holey”, much like the mockette in the next photo.

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Here is another unfired form I am exploring.  This started out as a tripod holding a sphere but I made the choice to combine the two forms.  I haven’t quite hit the nail on the head yet but its soon to come.

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And of course, a functional piece.  Although I am interested in exploring abstract ideas I will never give up on functional work.  I am stepping away from roundness though, and its exciting.

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Now all I can do is pray the glazes work out on these forms.

Art is hard, but worth it

I am grateful to say that I am making a living in ceramics!  As the studio tech I get about 6 hours a week.  On top of that, I have been subbing for my teachers which is a huge privilege (they actually trust me with their class!).  The money is finally coming in with my commission from Late for the Train Coffee.  This company has a few locations around Flagstaff and they are now selling my mugs!  I am actually paying rent with my work and it is very fulfilling.  I have been working my toockas off filling this mug order and keeping up with school but I made it out unscathed.

Here are some photos of the mug making process and a view of the happy little mugs waiting for a home.  It makes me a proud parent to see them ready to venture out into the real world on their own.

only 100 more mugs to make and the rest of the semester to finish with 16 credits!  Being a working artist is hard, but totally worth it.

Stuffs’n’things

Well now, I have many things I need to catch you up on since I haven’t posted in a while.

The Fall semester is fully underway and all the teeny boppers are out and about studying hard.   With this new academic year I have received my own studio space!  I have been doing ceramics for almost 7 years now and this is my very first studio.  I cannot tell you how awesome it is to have this space.  

In other news, the ceramics department was in the news.  This is just a little article the school newspaper did on the ceramic department.  http://northernarizonanews.com/blog/2012/03/19/ceramics-not-as-easy-as-it-looks-but-as-fun-as-it-sounds/

Now an update on some forms I am working on.  I don’t know where I got this idea, it kind of just came out of no where.  This is a prototype and I am excited to see what else comes along.

Its already getting cold here in Flagstaff and this winter I plan on taking advantage of it.  I got the idea to freeze my pots one winter day when I was drying clay.  I let it sit overnight and in the morning I found the water within the clay froze and crystallized.  After the ice melted and the water evaporated, it left behind its texture in the clay.  Last winter I threw this vase and put it out over night.  you can see the crystals the frozen water made.  

This is also just a prototype.  I am going to experiment with different forms using this surface.  This is one reason to not fear the icy winter to come.

The Professors of Ceramic Art at NAU.

Drum roll please!

These bottles were made by the great Jason Hess.  He is the main man of the ceramic program and wood firing is his forte.  He is mostly a functional potter.  The details of his pots are free flowing, spontaneous, and natural.  I am strongly influenced by his style and I am learning from it everyday.  Jason helped me through this past year more than anyone and I owe him big time.

 

This piece was made by Steve  Schaeffer.  Mr. Steve is the kind of guy who demands respect due to his knowledge and professionalism.  He has given me the critiques I need to become a better ceramic artist, his words have been priceless in my exploration of this medium.

Steve is a humble potter who truly does it for the joy.  He started off as a production potter but has moved on to sculpture.

 

 

Next on the list is Jennifer Holt.  Everyone loves Jen especially my dog Lucy (because of all the treats Jen spoils her with).  Jen’s influence on my work is very healthy.  She is doing stuff I would never think of and it inspires me.  This is her second year at NAU.  Her style is unique, delicate, and and sensitive.  She specializes in installations and knows how to create a sense of mysticism with her work.  She mainly works with slip casted porcelain.  Having her here really helps NAU’s reputation.

 

Jason Bohnert made this little gem.  He is a solid functional potter and teaches part time here at NAU.   His work is the kind you really just want to put to use.   He is is a passionate teacher and the kind I would hope to be one day.  He is also an outdoors dude and I get the notion he’s a bit of a hippy.  He is also the guy that got me into cross country skiing.

So that is a little of what NAU has to offer.  Thanks guys for all your help, knowledge, and drinks at Mia’s.  You inspire me and keep me motivated.

Woodfire Workshop at NAU

The past two weeks have been crazy busy with this workshop.  We fired two wood kilns and anyone who knows about wood firing, you understand how much work just one kiln is.  Image

This photo is “Butt Cheeks” Levon, the new post back Dave, and me loading the Anagama kiln.

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Levon and a student stoking the kiln from the side.

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Levon again showing the lovely lady how to tend to the flame, altough, I believe he wanted more for her to tend to his flame if you know what I mean.

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We had so much work that we filled a Soda kiln with the overflow pots.  Here we are just before bricking  the door and lighten er up.

I finally got around to photographing my sculptures I made during last semester here at NAU, if you haven’t seen them you can find the finished products in the gallery.

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I recently lucked out and scored a commission.  Here is where I am at so far with 3 bisque fired pieces.  Now I just need to figure out what to glaze them.  I am going to try different firings for each to experiment with surface and effects.

The sculpturization of the world

Hello again

Here are a couple of sculptures I have been slaving over.  When I unveiled this anthropomorphic owl to my dog Lucy, she barked and growled at it until she realized it was just wet clay.  then she wanted to lick it… strange but still, I think that makes it a success in that I was able to stir another animals emotions with my art.

This next item is not a sculpture but it is still a work of art.  Bloody marys to break up the work day and make the evening session more enjoyable.  A hearty meal in themselves garnished with celery, a pickled pepper, an olive, a pickle, pepper jack cheese and a glorious strip of bacon to top it all off.  I may have even forgot a garnish.  All for $6 on Sundays!  These have become a Sunday afternoon tradition in my life.

So, after a pleasant discussion over a couple drinks its off to the studio again.  This was a class assignment that involved making a shape, then making replicas of that shape for everyone in class, then exchanging shapes and making a sculpture out of them.  I decided to simply attach everyone’s items and encase them in some sort of sci-fi sphere.  It has yet to be glazed and fired but so far so good.  It really invites the viewer for a closer look inside.

an abundance of things. a true abundance of stuff.

I don’t know where to begin.  I do a bad job at keeping all my people up to date, now that I have finally gotten around to it, there is so much to say.  First off, I am loving my education here at NAU.  I feel like a geek saying that but its true.  I have been discovering different artistic avenues and I feel like I’m quite the explorer of new frontiers.  I’m creating art for both the pleasure of the process and the pleasure of whoever sees it afterward, it is a simple fact and it drives me-

I just finished a soda fire.  the textures and crystal growth bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.  Here are the results !

I happy about these pieces.  The surface on most of them is a surface I am been seeking for many moons.  it is a completely organic surface.  By that I mean I have mimicked a natural process within the earth, a process that in this case forms crystals, patterns and textures.  It is a somewhat random, somewhat uncontrolled, yet somewhat controlled look.  I feel like some sort of small god, some cosmic being who created a planet/piece of art but left the surface to develop its own organic beauty.  I also feel like a scientist.   its pretty great.

There’s other news, maybe even greater news.  The divergence from my regular routine of vessels has begun.  I am sculpting, and not just with clay but various types of metal.  I have just completed a recreation of Michelangelo’s “David” and I am pleased.  It’s a damn good thing too because it took a stupid long time.  It consists of metal rods, bent and welded.  As you can see, there are a lot of bends and welds.    the only critique I got from my teacher is that his wiener was too small and Michelangelo made a mistake. Oh well, this assignment was to simply recreate a famous piece and that is how it is.  Here is another piece from a fellow classmate. its pretty great.

I have been working on some other fun sculptures but cant find the photos.  Oh well, that leaves more news for the next episode.

A FINAL NOTE:

This semester has been that most difficult one I have ever endured but it has also been the most enjoyable.  I don’t even want to think about how many hours I have put into my work, not to mention all the late nights, deadlines and solitude that comes with it.  Still, it has been a work of love and I am finding more enjoyment the further I progress.  I’m busting my ass, so to speak, and the thought of getting paid for this one day is intriguing.  That is why I am working on an online shopping cart so you can purchase my stuff and things for your own pleasure and enjoyment. Lets hope I get that up soon.

Thanks for your time.

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Life is clay, Clay is life

Hello all,

First off, I have to say the title comes from Shane Christensen, the dude who has given me a ton of inspiration.  He’s an amazing ceramic artist and you can see his influence in my work.  I own that bottle on the left by the way.  thanks Mr. C

Well a lot has happened since I made my last post so i’m going to jump around a wee bit.  I would like to start off with photos of funny things but I haven’t had my camera at the opportune moments so I’ll just write boring words.

NAU has a Quiddich league (yes it is a a serious quiddich program, totally awesome for die-hard harry potter fans).  These people go out into a field and run around with brooms between their legs, and the worst part is, they don’t even fly!  I may be underestimating the power of imagination though so I am not going to make anymore fun.

last weekend was a flagstaff holiday known as Tequila Sunrise.  Bars open at 5 AM and the city closes downtown to traffic, then everyone gets super hammered at the crack of dawn and thats basically it.  Sadly, I had to unload the wood kiln or I would be able to tell you more.

So… the life of clay is coming along.  here are some photos of things I’ve finished thus far. this is a wood fired piece without any glaze or slip.  I let the fire do all the work and I would say its not that bad.   this is a bottle with a flashing slip applied so technically, its just bare clay as well.These 2 were wood fired and re-fired in a soda kiln, still just bare/raw clay.  So I’m pretty excited about the effects I have been getting without any glaze. NEATO!

Here are some things I’m working on.

 

Now I’m going to change gears.  There is a plaque outside the ceramic studio, it talks about how the program was founded but I found it peculiar when I got to the part where it stated when the first firing took place, its the date of my birth! Coincidence? I think not, its definitely  a sign.  

 

so thats all for now, next time I will fill you in on the insanely incredible faculty here at NAU.  I am surrounded by the pros and it is amazing.  I will leave you with some beautiful time-lapse photos of one of the wood fires we did.

 

Week 1 is finished. Im a busy person

I have week one behind me and what a doosy it was.  I am busier than a squirrel before winter but its all a work of love.  There’s school, ceramic production, my job at Diablo Burger (which I will fill you in on later), and taking care of my yellow lab named Lucy.  She’s full of energy and shes already chewed up my roommates couch and throw pillows because I left her home too long, she’s too sweet to stay mad at though.  Luckily shes allowed in the ceramics studio so shes been joining me often, keeping me company and working as a chick magnet.

The job at Diablo Burger is good(?). Its super hard work, at times I feel like I’m a slave in a labor camp but all my co-workers are totally rad and fun to be around.  I also leave every shift with a full belly and a fresh brew to wash it down.  But I’m at the bottom of the totem pole, I do the grunt work, like lift heavy things and wash dishes.  That’s great though because I’m young, in college and washing dishes to pay rent is classic.   Its a burger joint I know but you cant get a meal for less than 10 bucks.  Its gourmet and most everyone I talk to agrees its the best burger in town.  All the beef is free range, local, and organic.  We use olive oil in all the cooking and EVERYTHING is made from scratch.  Good stuff

The direction of my work is defiantly changing.  I’m more focused on the refining of my forms.  I feel it may be time to take the next daunting step and start making larger and more elaborate pieces.  The wood fire class I’m in with Jason Hess will help me take that step.  For the first wood firing we aren’t using much glaze, most of our pieces will actually be raw clay without glaze.  This will allow us to clearly see the effects of the wood fire upon surfaces and will give us an idea of where within the kiln will produce certain effects.    Here is a photo of my first weeks worth of work, I don’t think its too shabby.  (I made all the clay myself in a pug mill, this is a darker clay that reacts well when wood fired.) The rest of the photos are of the wood kilns, they are the reason NAU is top in the nation when it comes to wood fires.

This kiln is brand new and is one of only 2 in the world, a famous Japanese artist named Takashi Nakazato visited over the summer and built it with his 2 apprentices.  Its unique because it has 2 chimneys, one on each end.  Typically, it is difficult to get the back of the kiln to temp but with this kiln, we can address that problem instantly by redirecting the fire.  This also means that the atmospheric effects of the fire and ash will also be unique.  (you can see chimneys of 3 other wood kilns in the photo.)

Here are some more kilns.  a very good variety

This is an anagama wood fire kiln.  Anagama is an ancient type of Japanese kiln that is partially in the ground and it means “cellar kiln”

https://i2.wp.com/www4.nau.edu/ceramics/kilns/hi-res/naborigama.jpg

Almost There

This is it! Im on what I like to call an “extended vacation”.   I finally made the move to Flagstaff Arizona, a place where forest rangers seek refuge, hippies run free , and angry lesbians find peace.  Flagstaff is a mountain town, 7000 + feet in elevation.  Its a big change from the searing heat of St. George Utah.  Just yesterday a friend and I hiked a trail in the San Fransisco peaks and had towear warm cloths in August, what a delight!  But I didn’t come here to escape the heat, I came because of the the ceramic facility at NAU.  Its the best in the southwest.

I created this blog to inform my friends and clients of where I’m at and what is yet to come.  If you liked my art enough to have purchased it then THANK YOU, you helped pay for an  entire semester of school.  That’s a big deal!  So I thought I would keep you all up to date on the wild things I will experience learn and create.

I cant give you an art update (yet) because I have been enduring a heart breaking 4 month hiatus.  I quickly found out I’m too young and inspired to be doing this, but I’m in it now and its over in only 17 more days! I decided to do this because it was the end of the  semester and the beginning of summer and I realized it was time to pursue my BFA.  When I begin, I will be in over my head, a real ceramic junkie, so I thought it would smart to free float around beforehand, be stupid and meet new friends.

In the next blog episode, I will give you the down low on the ceramic studio and my genius plans to dominate.  Thanks for reading.