Update on Floor Vases

Two weeks ago now, I promised I’d post a photo of a large floor vase that, shortly after my post was published, would be unveiled from the gaze kiln, and sure enough, a promise is a promise! Here’s what I saw after swinging the kiln door open:

IMG_20160422_181455As in my usual fashion, I tried to get creative with layering of glazes. After trying out a test tile with this exact combination several weeks ago, a few of my classmates tried it on their work, but it wasn’t until I saw the glaze on their pieces that I really started to love it. It is a clean, subtle, almost cool yellow (as strange as that sounds), but the layering really allowed for variation on the surface which manifested itself on the sweet spots of the piece—in this case the shoulder and a bit of the neck. I’m thrilled.

This vase shrank quite a bit. It now only stands on the floor to about the height of my knee, but I have managed to account a bit more for shrinkage on the other two pieces I’ve been working on. While still standing on the wheel, the first one is at about my eye level, and the other comes to about my rib cage.

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Investigating these forms has both been so wonderful and a real challenge. I can’t stress enough how difficult it is to build a harmonious form in parts. Once the clay gets too tough, I can’t go back and make alterations, but I need it to be stiff to continue to build – a double edged sword. Another double edged sword I’m now facing is the decision about whether or not to bring a modern or contemporary element into these rather traditional and antiquated forms. There is a reason these forms have remained so predominant in our lives after thousands of years, yet as an aspiring artist, the pressure to be “avant-garde” is also unceasing. I love having these large vessels as “blank canvases” to work on, but I struggle with how much (if any) decoration the forms can handle before it becomes a detriment to the piece. So in continuing to make more, I will continue to sit on both sides of the fence… try a little of this, a little of that, making observations and changes as necessary.

The plan for the first vase pictured above is to carve into the area of white slip vertical lines to further emphasize the simple, curving profile of the piece, and to provide a bit more contrast on the surface when it is glazed. As for the second, I am so in love with the form that I hope the lip is enough to elevate it into a more contemporary realm. So I’m starting slow, but there will certainly be more, and more experimentation to come.

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