After I made a series of hand-cut stencils, I started to explore ways to quickly make more elaborate, and hopefully, reusable stencils and resists. I started to teach myself how to use Inkscape, which is a freeware vector graphics program that is somewhat similar to Adobe Illustrator. I needed to learn to work in a vector graphics format so that I could generate and alter images to cut on a small vinyl cutter that I bought for my clay work. The software that runs the cutter works best with SVG files, vector files. Vector graphics are different from other images in that they are made from paths with nodes, rather than pixels. The end result is that a vector graphic can be magnified to any level without breaking up or distorting from pixelation. My previous post shows some of the early results of that work. Much of the imagery I have been working with has been natural elements like rock textures, floral imagery, and botanical drawings. But I also did some work with portraits, more on that later. To create a stencil that separates the gradients of color in this now simplified image, I created paths by tracing the bitmap using a small number for the color quantities. The TraceBitMap function is a basic part of all vector graphics programs. This yields a recognizable monochromatic image with a small number of distinct tones. Each of these tones is contained within the discreet loop of a path which I separated into different files by selecting, copying and pasting. This makes a set of stencils that can layer and create a complete image. Many thanks to Travis Jannsen, from the printmaking faculty here at SIUC. His input on using repositionable adhesive spray to mount my paper stencil to the paper carrier worked brilliantly. It still took many weeks of trial and error to create a simple system for making the stencils. Also, his suggestions about brayer choices for color application were a real help. To further refine the stencil, I would like to experiment with spraying the paper stencils with a poly or sealant coat in the hopes of extending their longevity, though the absorbent nature of the paper does seem ideal in making the stencil firmly adhere to the wet clay. The final set of stencils is three layers, here, spread out over four images. These layers of paper cuts, when properly stacked, can "print" the complex image of the chrysanthemum with only four gradients of tones.
Around 2011-2012 I revisited my long-standing admiration of the universal craft forms of paper cuts, especially Chinese folk festival paper cuts and German scherenschnitte. During this time I made a series of black paper silhouette portraits of some of my younger relatives, aided by templates from digital photographs. After making a small series of colorful hand-cut paper designs, I decided I wanted more outcome from the time-consuming and careful effort of making the paper cuts. So, I borrowed an idea from a potter from Northern Wisconsin, Mary Dosch. She uses imagery cut from bicycle inner tubes to create durable patterns and graphics for her hand-built slab work. The cut tube creates a shallowly-indented 2-D image. So, rather than cutting paper, I started to cut rubber with an x-acto knife. From these I made a series of celadon trays. I may try to dig up some of what I had made, or at least get pictures of the rubber stamps themselves.
Welcome to the pottery! In August of 2012, I (Kathy) started work on an MFA in ceramics at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. The program runs till May of 2015. During this time, I have enjoyed working as a teacher's assistant in art history. My current ceramic work is experimental and quickly changing. As new work comes together, I plan to share it here. I will continue to sell work at Caradori Pottery in Eau Claire, WI, and The Brickyard Pottery and Glassworks, in Barronett, WI. Thanks for your continued interest and support of my work!
Caradori Pottery in Eau Claire, WI, now carries a fresh grouping of blue and white noodle bowls with tulip decorations, as well as some porcelain egg bakers. The pottery is located at 359 Ferry St., Eau Claire, WI 54703. Phone (715)835-8860. Visit http://caradori-pottery.com/
I have really enjoyed making some decorated blue and white porcelain pottery over this winter. All the pots in this new body of work use some of the simplest, most classic, and most basic techniques and colors available in ceramics. After I make the wet pots, I use a handful of Chinese calligraphy brushes and a few sign maker brushes to paint on cobalt slip, a thinned slurry of clay colored with a little cobalt. Then, I glaze the piece with a clear glaze. For me, the result has been a playful revisiting of some of my favorite floral motifs, strong banding imagery, and a wide open hand at approaching new forms. Really fun!
Welcome to my claywork. Also, please visit the NWHP website, www.heritagepassage.com.Many thanks to them for including my work in the guidebook. One of my pots is even featured on the cover! Thanks for visiting! ---Kathy