Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Out of my Comfort Zone with Sculpture

Although I'm officially finished with my 6-month apprenticeship with potter Larry Watson, I've still got a bit of work to do at his studio. About two weeks ago, I started on this giant teapot. It was one of those moments where I thought -- 'hey, as long as I'm making another teapot, I might as well make a huge, super-complicated teapot.' (This goes along with thoughts like, 'hey, as long as we're cooking pasta for dinner, we might as well make a seven-veggie sauce to go with it.' Guess who gets to clean the dishes...)

If you missed my previous post, I've been working recently with plaster molds, which allow me to reproduce complex forms and designs using a technique called slip-casting. Traditionally, you would make a cast by pouring plaster over a finished piece. Instead, I've decided to build the form in two halves made entirely of solid clay. This allows me a lot more freedom for creativity,
as I can add and subtract big chunks of clay, and not have to worry about the structural integrity of the vessel. Of course, the final slip-casted product will be hollow, and (technically) functional.

In the meantime, my teapot has gotten much more complex. I have never done this kind of
sculptural work, but after some initial self-doubt, everything just started to flow. I was thinking a lot about how potters from all over the world have used pottery as a form for telling epic stories. For example, I've read that a lot of the images on Mayan pottery that look like arbitrary design elements -- swirls, zigzags, lines,etc. -- actually represent characters or gods in Mayan mythology. And the juxtaposition of these elements might describe some epic narrative involving these characters.

Anyways, that's just one way to look at it. Mostly I'm just having fun and moving clay around until it looks right.

I'd love to hear your comments/thoughts/questions/whatever. If you're an artist-type, I'd love to hear how you have used narrative in your own work.

Happy Gravy Day!



  1. That's what life is all about - having fun and moving stuff around until it looks right!

    Can't wait to see the finished product!


  2. oh yes, guess who's washing the dishes....

    Is your teapot going to pour at all?? fun fun. maybe we should put it as a flower pot kind of sculpture in the garden