While in my residency at Watershed I decided to work specifically on ewers. There was much debate in the studio over what a 'ewer' is and the definition actually does not describe the form that I have been making. You could consider mine a cruet or an oil pot. Some of mine are open at the top for vinaigrettes. I most like to use them for dishwashing soap to replace the plastic bottle of soap that often sits next to your kitchen sink. Whatever they are called, they are pouring vessels that have similar things in common. Staying within that realm helped me really focus on each detail which resulted in getting some new ideas that I can use in the future. The options are endless and as I was working I realized how interesting some of my altered forms could make interesting other forms, such as vases and boxes. I love being in that stage of working when one idea leads to the next and then the next and then before you know it you're somewhere you never would have thought you would be.
Since I decided to concentrate purely on the 'making' instead of the finished fired pot it gave me more freedom. I worked primarily in the local earthernware clay at Watershed, which brought about it's own challenges. The clay was very groggy and open and I'd often find huge rocks and organic material in the clay while I was working. It was difficult to do some of the handles that I previously would do. This was a good problem to have though. Having challenges sometimes steers you in a different direction in order to solve that problem.
The picture above is of Sequoia discussing these challenges we face while we are working. I loved our discussions we had during my time there. He referred to this stage in the making as the real 'thinking'. The 'thinking' does not always happen in your first initial sketch, but in happens more in depth during the actual making. He completely took over a ewer form I was working on. We were talking about how non-plastic the clay was and how hard it was to make a good handle with it. Sequoia just started cutting right into it, altering it here and there. It was great to see this. I had been trying to make something different, but sometimes it can be hard to change something when you're not sure what to change or how to change it. Having Sequoia cut up my pot freed me from being attached to it. After that, it seemed to open me up to cutting and darting into my pots, adding different angles and trying new things. I had a great time working on those forms during my time there. I have more pots to take pictures of that I will share here. It's interesting to see the progression of my ideas. I feel like I have several new directions to go in with some of them.
This piece above was one of the first ones I started making. It's not much different than the form I used to make, but there are some subtle differences with the darting and a two part handle. After that I was able to branch out a bit more.
We also did a low fire salt/soda firing, thanks to Marty who helped us figure out some terra sigilatta recipes. I've always wanted to try a low fire soda so this was great to have this opportunity. The pots turned out pretty nice! Some of them shockingly looked like they were fired to cone 10 in a soda kiln. Maybe this way of firing might be in my future sometime....
August 30, 2010
Being in a new environment always gives me the opportunity of noticing inspirations that are around me. At Watershed, there was always a moment for this discovery. When I didn't have my hands in the red clay, I was taking pictures! Above is a picture of some lovely green growth in the tide pools along the coast.
Inside the beehive kiln, we were constructing an installation of wool that we spread over the floor. I was captured by the intense feeling of space when you were inside this huge kiln. The acoustics were amazing in there and just the presence of the actual stillness inside was so peaceful. I loved the repetition in the brickwork in the ceiling....reminds me of my woven textures I put on my work.
I watched these huge hay bales each day as we made the walk up and down to the studio. It's like they are huge marshmallows posing for a picture. It was interesting seeing how the light throughout the day changed the appearance of these.
These milkweed pods were everywhere along the same road, as well as a chicken and sheep farm. We visited the farmer to buy wool for our wool project, and I found an interesting composition in this basket of fresh eggs.
August 27, 2010
My two week residency at Watershed was fantastic! To start with, it was in Maine in a beautiful area near the coast an hour outside of Portland. The weather was amazing and the studio and house is situated upon farmland that felt similar to the rolling hills of western North Carolina.
Watershed's history takes you back to an old brick factory that manufactured bricks out of the local Maine earthenware clay. Today, summer and fall residents are invited to work in the old barn factory and are able to use the same local clay that was used to make the bricks.
The session I was in was with Sequoia Miller and invited artist Jean Hicks, a felter and sculptor who has been friends with Sequoia for several years. We had a great group of people in our session, including Marty Fielding, who was very fun to get to know and see how he makes his beautiful pots.
The residency at Watershed is different than a 'class' at other clay centers. Its purpose is to give artists a chance to individually work on their own ideas together in a community studio. I was excited to have this opportunity to focus on trying new things in a new setting without worrying about the end result. It was all about exploring for me. I set a parameter of keeping within the realm of pouring vessels, or ewers, which lately have been my favorite form to make. I'll explain more about what I made with some future posts.
It was great having time to work on my own thing, but be around so much great energy in the studio. The only requirement was to meet up at meal times, which were in the shared house we lived in. The food at Watershed is AMAZING! The other nice thing we did as a session was to set up a 'cocktail' hour of sharing and relaxing each day around 5:30. This led to the wearing of wigs as well as stomping around on some wool in a beehive kiln! (What? you ask? More here!)
But the first we thing we did after meeting everyone in the group is sit down and make pinch pots just to feel out this beautiful local red earthenware clay. Then the next morning, we headed out to the famous Watershed clay hill to dig some clay and mix up a batch to use.
August 25, 2010
I'm home after 3 weeks of adventures in Maine! There is more data in my head than I can process right now but I can't wait to share my great time I had in my residency at Watershed, as well as all of the fun camping and hiking in Acadia National Park and on Mt. Katahdin along the Appalachian Trail.
I hope you readers are still out there, I promise I will return to my regular scheduled programming very soon (possibly about pots and photography!) Until then, here are a few shots of my outdoor exploring to whet your appetite! Of course I can't just pick one quintessential shot, that would be way too hard!