Interview with Claire Muckian - Artist of the month, September 2011

Interview with ceramic artist Claire Muckian - Artist of the month, September 2011

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Ceramics Now Magazine
: You are a very young and talented ceramic artist. Can you tell us what was your first experience with ceramics?

Claire Muckian: Thank you, but I’m not that young actually. I studied art in school, liked it very much but never considered it as a possible career. After many years training and working in various environmental management roles, I began to realise how much I missed making art. So, I returned to the University of Ulster in Belfast to do the BA Fine and Applied Arts with a view to specialising in drawing. There, I had a brief introduction to clay, which I had never used before and had an instant connection with it as a material. I loved how malleable it was and how you could so easily transfer a quality of touch during making. I viewed it as an extension of my drawing practice. So, I made an impulsive decision to specialise in ceramics for my Degree after that.

Claire Muckian Contemporary Ceramics Magazine - Artist of the month

Turbine, porcelain - View her works

Constructing using hand-building techniques give your works a sense of delicacy and lightness. How do you make your works? Tell us more about the process.

As I mentioned before, I enjoy making where I can transfer a sensitivity of touch to the material. It is important for me that the sculptures maintain a certain immediacy, vibrancy, and vulnerability that can be achieved easily with drawing, but that tends to be lost when making 3-dimensional work.  I think this is the case with ceramics in particular, where so much time and processes are involved. I predominantly choose hand-building techniques such as pinching and coiling so you can build quickly and loosely. I’m not so interested in the perfect surface and I like to achieve an appearance of the handmade. I like the texture of hammered metal and to leave holes and marks like fingerprints. This gives the work an unfinished aesthetic that adds energy and immediacy to what are seemingly primitive works but that still feel fresh and relevant.

I wish to heighten the viewer’s awareness of space, air and silence.  I am interested in the viewer’s experience and response to objects, particularly the handmade object. I believe that the viewer finishes these forms off in their mind and participates in their making to a certain degree.

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Interview with Mark Goudy - New artist, September 2011

Interview with ceramic artist Mark Goudy - New artist, September 2011

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Ceramics Now Magazine
: Your work with ceramics has been active only in the last three years. What did you do before that? Tell us about your first experience with ceramics.

Mark Goudy: Well, my mother was a potter, starting back in the early 70’s, and so when I was a teenager I was exposed to clay through her work. She had a studio in our basement, with a wheel, kiln, glaze mixing area, etc. I tried throwing on the wheel back then, but I didn’t really connect with the craft aesthetic or the making process during that time. I was more interested in playing music and adventuring outdoors than working with mud.

Somehow thirty years went by before getting my hands back in the clay again. I ended up studying engineering and enjoyed a twenty-year career in the computer industry (designing graphics chips for companies such as Pixar, Silicon Graphics, and nVidia). It wasn’t until a little while after my mother passed away that my wife Liza had the idea of paying homage to her creative spirit by taking a raku class at our local adult school. Pull pieces directly out of a red-hot kiln and drop them into burning sawdust? …sign me up! It was fun performance art, but it was the building process that really drew me in. I started hand-building and designing systems to create forms that reflected my own sensibilities. More classes followed, and within a couple years I left the virtual world of computer engineering and was spending a lot of time in the clay studio. It was refreshing to be working with such a physical material and in a process where every piece created embodies its own unique identity.


Three Vessels - clockwise from left: (m70) 7”w x 3”h; (m81) 10.5”w x 4”h; (m71) 8”w x 3.5”h


You usually work with soluble metal salts, that give impressive shapes and patterns. How do you make the pieces?

I may have been influenced by my experience in computer graphics, where you can render all sorts of interesting objects composed from intersecting curved surfaces, but early on I wanted to get away from the radially symmetric forms that come about from working with the wheel. So I learned about slab construction and ended up making a series of special hump molds (by pouring plaster into stretchy fabric suspended through triangular cutouts in plywood) to shape the clay. These molds enabled me to construct forms out of asymmetric parabolic curved surfaces, which had immediate appeal. My basic process is to shape, and then join these surfaces together to make my rounded vessels. The arcs in these pieces are designed to fit the sweep of my hand as I burnish the surface by rubbing with a smooth stone. For now, I enjoy working in a scale that fits easily into the hands, with forms that feel like waterworn stones.

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Interview with Shamai Gibsh - Ceramic Technique, September 2011

Interview with Israeli ceramic artist Shamai Gibsh - Ceramic Technique, September 2011

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→ The interview with Shamai Gibsh is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One, Winter 2011-2012.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: What was the starting point in your investigation with Saggar firing and Terra Sigillata painting?

Shamai Gibsh: Terra sigillata painting intrigued my imagination when I was a teenager.  At first, I saw Venetian vases decorated with black and white figures and later with color painting, as part of the history and heritage of the eastern Mediterranean board. Years later, when I was already a ceramic artists, I researched terra sigillata and the rediscovery of it in the 20th century, and started to apply it to my work. I tend not to use glazes in my work, except for exterior mural work. Thus, the use of terra sigillata over the last 15 years enabled me to reach a non shiny and a very appealing color palate, and when fired within saggar vessels in the presence of organic materials or smoked firing, appears to have exiting results. I fire within a saggar, which is an enclosed clay vessel that holds the specific organic material, to get the desired results. Over the years I have used many forms of organic materials like saw dust, salt Marché, pine needles, various seeds and fruits. These days, I mainly use pine needles collected from two forests; one in the Carmel mountains and the other one close to my studio.

Installation “Stelae 2011”, 235x213x55 cm. Stoneware, Terra sigillata, Saggar firing.


Tell us more about the process of constructing your works. Does it take much time, do you have to make many preparations?

The manual part of my work: wheel throwing, hand building murals and sculpting occupy a large part of my time. However, these come after an idea has been formed following considerable thoughts, planning and designing. Naturally, I am influenced by my roots, the immediate cultural and social environment and by the exposure to anything that touches us as human beings. Therefore, yes, it is a lengthy process.

My preference of the use of sagaar firing also contributes to the prolonged preparatory phase in my work. Bone-dried vessels, made out of white stoneware clay, are covered with three layers of terra sigillata, occasionally decorated with copper cuttings and bisque fired to cone 06. Metal soluble are also used for decoration, and the objects are inserted into clay vessels (saggars) which are just a bit larger than the fired object, and filled up with organic materials, mostly pine needles, pretreated with different oxides. I fire in reduction to around 1000C.

Preparation of murals varies. At times terra sigilata is applied in different layers on a plaster board in a reverse pattern, followed by a thin layer of liquid clay. When in a leather-hard state, the board is lifted and cut into tiles, bisque fired and only than saggar fired. In other instances, tiles are painted with terra sigiillata, applied with layers of various copper cutting and even painted with oxides and metal solubles, bisque fired and saggar fired.

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Mark Goudy

Mark Goudy Contemporary ceramics magazine

Mark Goudy's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

"The process of working in clay is a grounding experience that focuses my attention in the present moment, but also is a tangible thread that connects across time with twenty thousand years of ceramists who preceded me.

My work is an exploration in shape and pattern, using the enclosed vessel as the underlying form. These vessels are constructed from asymmetric curved surfaces that project a unique contour with each viewing angle. The interior space is intentionally hidden, leaving the contents to the imagination, metaphorically containing perhaps hopes, dreams, or spirits. These rounded shapes are meant to be held and, when set on a flat surface, gently rock before coming to rest at their own natural balance point.

My approach is to combine ancient methods of stone-burnishing and earthenware firing with computer-aided shape design to produce talismans that fuse traditional and modern aesthetics. Surface markings are created by painting water-soluble metal salts on bisque-fired clay. These watercolors permeate the clay body, and become a permanent part of the surface when fired. I have a strong affinity for intricate abstract patterns, ones that can’t be fully comprehended with a single glance, an invitation to in-depth exploration.

These ceramic forms echo the geometries of nature: waterworn stones, shells, seedpods, expansive desert landscapes, the Milky Way on a moonless night.” Mark Goudy

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Susan Meyer

Susan Meyer's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

“I make sculptures that are inspired by utopian, experimental communities. The pieces suggest architectural models for utopian experiments. My curiosity stems from the ways in which these communities reflect optimism and, the ways in which they simultaneously reflect failure. Modernist ties to the utopic and Modernist architecture also come into play; recent sculptures in layered acrylic are examples of this interest.

Currently, I am also working on hexagonal structures made of concrete covered cardboard. These pieces are influenced by Brutalist architecture, Corbusier’s machines for living and, most strongly, by Robert Smithson’s slide lecture (1972) on Hotel Palenque to the architectural faculty at the University of Utah.

I’ve been visiting the sites of a number of utopian communities (Drop City (CO), Libre (CO), New Buffalo (NM), the Oneida Community (NY), Fruitlands (MA)…) and I’ve videotaped what remains there.  Compiling this video footage and adding off-hand, stop-action animated figurative elements is a related current project. I envision clusters of these various works – the sparkling city, the concrete ruins and the small screen video – creating an environment both visually rich and suggestive of societal energy and entropy.” Susan Meyer

Susan Meyer is a special featured artist on Ceramics Now Magazine.

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Barbara Fehrs

Barbara Fehrs' profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

“My art forms are created from red earthenware using hand built processes of stretching, altering and joining slabs of clay. While the clay is still workable, shapes, coils and other features are incorporated. My vessels use a three-sided form as a consistent point of departure and I challenge myself by creating each piece uniquely, developing patterns or referencing nature or an historical style. Faux forms such as pitchers give the viewer an added delight where distinct surface treatments distinguish two views. The contrast of clay and glaze is important to my expression as it draws attention to shapes, patterns and rich textures. I enjoy creating works that can be appreciated visually as well used functionally.” Barbara Fehrs

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Simcha Even-Chen

Simcha Even-Chen's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

In my recent works I use ceramic sculptures to investigate the elements of ambiguity and dynamic of opposites.  Ambiguity is express by the contrast between appearance and reality. Looking at the precise shapes that enclose and contain space gives the impression of solid and massive bodies when they are in fact, surprisingly light and delicate.
The dynamic of opposite is express in a way that juxtaposes the precise and controlled building and graphic design of the ceramic work the unpredictable firing technique of “Naked Raku”.
In these works I’m dealing with issues such as tensions between polarities, with fragmentation and constructions and with illusions. These concepts are guidelines for my treatment of space in the context of surface-volume relationships. The division of the body surface between white and black, as well as the use of lines softens the shape, simultaneously placing the grid or lines on the edge of the shape, so that they follow the shape, completely dissolve the hard lines. Viewing from different angles, surface and volume are blurred, giving an illusion of flatness.
This idea is strengthened and extended by working with pairs or creating a composition of a few units, where new volumes and planes are achieved by way of the lines or grid are virtually joined; the ratio of parts to the whole is changing and two and three dimensions are played against each other in a sophisticated manner.

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Shamai Gibsh

Shamai Gibsh's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

Owner of a Cramic Studio in Jaffa, Israel, Shamai Gibsh’s activities include wheel throwing, hand building and sculpturing.
My ceramic works are focused on esthetic designs. Techniques include: Saggar firings of objects covered with terra sigillata and terra sigillata printing, reduction, Raku and oxidation.

I get inspiration from my environment and surrounding. Jaffa, an 10,000 years old port city a part of Tel-Aviv  in Israel - a very old and full of history with its colors and textures, unique architecture and multinational has a big influence on me.
Typically  I burnish and cover with terra sigilata, at times I use copper and soluble salts (Metal chlorides like silver, gold, cobalt), and saggar fired inside clay vessels with organic materials typically pine needles.

For the last 11 years I’ve worked every summer at the Harvard ceramic Studio. My sculptural work an been inspired by the life in israel, the political situation in Israel, as well as my recent traveling to China and Korea. There I took a path of a single 3 dimensional object instead of using multiple objects like in my “wall” Aestela exhibition. Each one of these sculpture represents a wall-barrier.

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Natalia Dias

Natalia Dias' profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

Natalia Dias garaduated in 2009 with a 1st class hons degree in Ceramics from Cardiff School of Art and Design and she is already considered one of the most exciting up and coming Ceramic artists in the UK today. Her CV includes a gold medal for Craft and Design at the National Eisteddfod of Wales 2010, 1st prize winner for ceramic and glass at the 2007 Welcome trust competition Design4Science, work sold to the Aberystwyth University ceramic collection which is the biggest and most important in Wales, work published in the international Lark Books 2009 edition “500 ceramic sculptures”, and numerous exhibitions in London and all over the UK.
Her practice focuses on Alchemy, nature, love and the sublime.

“My work is my own language. I sculpt metaphorically the way that I see and feel things, intending to project the viewer to a dreamscape of sensuality and magic realism. This recent body of work is an allegory to the human condition, the Alchemical journey that an individual takes from birth to death in search of harmony and which can be manifest through Love.

“Love is a way of transforming the ephemeral into eternal”.

The principal thing is not the creation of imaginary worlds or beings but the discovery of the mysterious relationship between man and his circumstances.

In my work I intend to express the brittle transiency of life and its humble beauty. The pure fact of matter from the minute to the infinite and its eternal ephemera. The processes that I use are mostly handbuild and castind, sometimes transfers and lustres are applied but I also find very exciting to experiment with assembling ceramics and other materials.

My work is quite concept and process based, most of the sculptures tell a tale or a critique by themselves but I love to create with them narratives and otherworlds through installation, where people can step into their imagination and my own.” Natalia Dias

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Susan Meyer: Together, 2008, Laser cut acrylic, H-O scale figures, wood, video and sound, dimensions variable

Susan Meyer: Together, 2008, Laser cut acrylic, H-O scale figures, wood, video and sound, dimensions variable

Susan Meyer: Shaft, detail, 2010, laser cut acrylic, H-O scale figures and aluminum, 50” x 14” x 14”

Susan Meyer: Shaft, detail, 2010, laser cut acrylic, H-O scale figures and aluminum, 50” x 14” x 14”