Inspiration and Process

Inspiration and Process

 

Why large vessels?

Good large pots have a seemingly animate presence that delights and compels me. I respond to them as beings, and making them is my quest to understand how they work – how scale, curve and volume combine to make forms that resonate deeply with something inside us.

Sometimes the work feels like compulsion, at other times like channeling, and at rarified moments like simply flowing with the process.  The obstacles and difficulties working with clay at human-size scale are legion and at times disheartening; always it feels like daunting labor. 

I sometimes wish I had training or a mentor I could rely on for answers, whether technical, formal or metaphysical.  As it is, the only place I can look is the next piece, where I hope that something left undiscovered in the previous work will be revealed.  Over time, the mystery, rather than approaching solution, only deepens.

Inspirations

I draw inspiration from Mediterranean and Asian pottery traditions as well as ancient clay figurative sculpture. The silhouettes and materials of my pieces evoke millennia of utilitarian vessel-making, while the scale and voluptuous curves suggest organic and human form. 

I seek to unite a contemporary sensibility with the spirit and vigor of ancient forms. Thus the work references history, but does not emulate the style of any particular era or culture. 

Elemental surfaces, dramatic lines, and beckoning presence invite the viewer to pause, caress, and contemplate. Each piece portrays the quest to faithfully render the upwelling emotion and spirit that inspired its creation.

Process

I build large pieces in many stages, joining damp sections in a modified version of the coil-and-throw method found in many ancient cultures. Although I work on a potter’s wheel, my approach is essentially sculptural: Beginning with a rough idea of scale and mood, the details of form and decoration arise through an improvisational dance that unfolds over a period of days as the piece finds its way to completion.

Many of my pieces are unglazed, but may be covered with a thin layer of slip to achieve different hues. After three to five days of building and a week of drying, I load the vessels into my large kiln, bring them to 2300ºF in a day-long firing, and then allow them to slowly cool over three days.  Each time I open the kiln I have the thrill of seeing how (and if!) they fared through extreme stresses of transformation by fire.

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This beautiful film by Robert Fritz evokes the meditative quality of my studio practice.