New Places, New Faces

The March relocation to a 1930's farmhouse outside Boyceville, WI expands the studio space and housing for the growing collection of kilns. All in the beautiful Knapp hills, it is rural Wisconsin at its best.

                After a busy month of moving, the studio is once again a fully equipped and running workspace. The best part of all: I will share my marbled earthenware pottery at art shows in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota over the next year. The upcoming events and locations page has continually updated information. I look forward to sharing this work, seeing the work of other artists, and talking to people who look at and value art in new and interesting ways.    

Marbling Process Video

Marbling is an ancient printing process used all over the world, in different ways, for book arts, calligraphy, and more. A couple years ago, I experimented until I found a way to bring this process into my clay work. It is so much easier to show than to try to explain how this works--but I am happy to be a part of the marbling world. I feel like there is a lot happening with marbling lately. So, I share this video of my process. Thanks!  

Eau Claire Area Holiday Events 2016

Hi All, If you are in the Eau Claire Area over this winter, you'll be able to find my new work at a few different events and galleries. This Friday, November 18th from 5pm-9:30pm, I will be at an opening at Caradori Pottery with new work, along with a number of great local artists. This gallery has been carrying my new marbled earthenware pottery and tile. http://caradori-pottery.com/ Also opening November 18th, the Janet Carson Gallery at the Eau Claire Regional Art Center will be having its annual holiday sale. I will have a number of large platters, tiles, and mugs for sale throughout the show, which runs to Dec. 23, 2016. http://www.eauclairearts.com/event.phtml/FCB0E4B7/holiday_art_fair On Saturday, November 26th (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) 10am-4pm I will be showing a large group of new and never before exhibited work at the Artisan Forge's Small Business Saturday event. This collaborative workspace is a new and precious gem in the art and culture scene of the area. It is worth the trip just to see the place, 1106 Mondovi Rd. Eau Claire, WI 54701. http://www.artisanforgestudios.com/ Thanks for looking at this new work in person. It is a very exciting time for me to be making this very new, very experimental work that is somehow, surprisingly, still traditional pottery and tile.

New Mug

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Raw Slipped Terra Cotta Mug Drying

  Check out my new mug style! New form, new foot, new handle. I can't wait to start marbling on the surfaces of these new forms. I am also happily adding stilts to my kiln shed. The earthenware feels so glossy and smooth on the foot ring with a thin layer of clear glaze covering it all. The Elk Mound, Wisconsin studio is all set up and ready for a toasty winter of terra cotta, color, and fun. I'll be sharing these new finished mugs with galleries and posting them in my Etsy shop throughout September.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

A mound of terra cotta clay on the floor of my studio

A mound of terra cotta clay on the floor of my studio

Today, a few photos of clay. In grad school we ask a lot of questions, especially "why" questions. We are challenged to find ever stronger, more defensible reasons for what we do and why. There are many great reasons, many streams of worthy inquiry.  Almost all of them include this; we simply love to make art: we love the material.  
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A large flat ground of plastic clay prepped for slip work

Thick tiles with a slipwork painting having their backs hollowed out

Thick tiles with a slipwork painting having their backs hollowed out

 

Printing

This week I thought about printing a lot. I had the opportunity to see a demonstration of the 3-D printer Morris library recently acquired. I spoke with the people that are working on the project. It was illuminating. On the same day, I spent time hand-setting type for my job in the Preservation Department in Morris Library.
The stamping press uses hand-set type to permanently impress titles onto bookcloth for new book covers.

The stamping press uses hand-set type to permanently impress titles onto bookcloth for new book covers.

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The press is heated to about 200 F to impress a permanent, durable title.

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This scene was once a ubiquitous part of life, but is now very rare. The preservation department has a cabinet full of these narrow drawers. Each drawer houses a font in one size, either lower or upper case.

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Setting the type for a title.

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Many of the proponents of the 3-D printer project on campus are retired professors and staff members. They are all volunteers, from all over the university.

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The plate of this kit-made robotic printer is heated. The operator's hand is resting on the plate, with the movable printer head directly above. Right now, Orange PLA plastic is being fed into the machine. The heated plate enables the printer to print ABS plastic, like what legos are made from.

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This is the more common type of printer. Here, the science librarian is using it to print out two small plastic rings. This would take about 15 minutes.

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The 3-D printer.

  When Guttenberg first convinced goldsmiths to take up the onerous task of making little cast, perfectly-formed letters, they did not start with just the 26 letters of the alphabet in upper and lower case and a few punctuation marks. They very closely copied the style of calligraphy, with hundreds of shapes and forms of letters. These early books were meant to look and feel like a hand-made manuscript. And they very nearly did. They achieved a level of artistry that analyzed calligraphic styles from a totally new mindset. Some thinkers believe that it took more than a century for the impact and potential of this piece of technology to be fully understood. I think that we could easily make the case that my university, the middle class, abundance of material resources, plentiful food and clean water, and much more, all stem from this one piece of technology and its profound ability to transfer knowledge. I have seen people comparing the invention of computers and PCs to the invention of the printing press. I believe that the impact of this piece of technology will take a century or more to understand. I remember when computers used tape decks to manage minuscule amounts of data. This week I saw a computer, using Linux-based, community-built software print out a plastic 3-D object. One of these printers has been famously used to make a home-made prosthetic for a growing boy, by his dad. Then he posted the directions on the Internet, and they are freely available. I am a potter, besides being a parent, a grad student, and a number of other things. I believe that the handmade pot is much more than an object made to house nostalgia and Utopianism. The ideals of social justice that influential thinkers have tried to attach to craft work are noble. They just don't attach very well. We have a printing press in the library because it does something that no other currently, economically-available tool can do. It permanently adheres a custom durable title to bookcloth in a one-off process uniquely required for repair. The hand-made craft object is the same. It does not need watertight dogma to justify itself. When I look at it, feel it, use it, I know that it can do things that no mass-produced object can do. It can express freedom and looseness, accident and choice, beauty and agility of mind in a very concrete way that no other type of object could. It is not the perfect tool for every job, but there are things about this tool that cannot be replaced, ever, by anything else. Still, I have some ideas for some tessellated geometric sculptures that I would love to make up designs for and 3-D print someday.The kite designs were fabulous. Paper clay may have been a better choice for my attempt. My media choice, pottery, is limited, like all choices. I see its place in a new way when it is put in the context of a world with cheaply available 3-D printers. The meanings of tools and objects shift in a changing context. And I like that change. I like modern life, without which I could not have the job of my choice, drink clean water, eat as much, own property, move freely. The list goes on and on.

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

Two slipped plates and a bowl

Two slipped plates and a bowl. The bowl has a floral stencil pattern repeat. The two plates have a portion of a piece of digitally-altered rosemaling traced onto them. Next, the design was carved through and outlined in slip trailed yellow and black.

   
Freshly slipped earthenware bowls.

Freshly slipped earthenware bowls. These also incorporate details of a rosemaling pattern. They are each unique. Some involve a traced paper stencil, others are entirely painted and drawn free-hand.

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The right-most bowl is a little landscape sketch of water droplets falling on earth with a yellow root system below ground and a tiny green leaf just beginning to unfurl above ground. Is January too early for spring fever?

This is the last weekend before the spring semester starts. I spent the morning adding dates to the syllabus for the beginning clay class that I will be teaching and creating a Gmail calendar for the course. This afternoon I trimmed a little over half the pots I had thrown yesterday. I ought to have trimmed them in the morning and worked on the syllabus in the afternoon: the pots were almost too dry. I slipped everything that was trimmed with a thin layer of white slip and finished the decoration on eight out of a group of about fifteen trimmed pots. I wrapped them up carefully in plastic sheeting. It will likely be Tuesday afternoon before I can return to finish the wet work on the remaining pieces.

My Morning

One of the best things about grad school is the very interesting things that other people are doing, all around me, everyday. This morning I got to watch Kelsey Wright making the third charge of glass into a glass casting in the hot shop next door. Kelsey is the one in the silver hot suit. It was very interesting to talk to one of the glass grad students about glass and about how the colors that are seen in glass depend on its shape. Since glass refracts light, its outer surface can be more or less like a lens, sending color in many directions.  
Getting ready to open the kiln.

Getting ready to open the kiln.

The silica plaster mold, partially filled with molten glass, with a freshly added piece resting on the top of the hot glass surface.

The silica plaster mold, partially filled with molten glass, with a freshly added piece resting on the top of the hot glass surface.

Kelsey making the third charge for this large mold.
Kelsey making the third charge for this large mold.

Bullseye casting glass waiting to be added to the mold.

Bullseye casting glass waiting to be added to the mold.

A single piece of the glass.

A single piece of the glass.

Here you can see the lavender colors of the glass. The colors of glass based on its shape.

Here you can see the lavender colors of the glass. The colors in glass are  based on its shape as well as its chemistry.