Leslie David - Painting Please!
Painting series on Please! Magazine, for the special birthday Issue that Leslie David art directed.
Suzanne Stumpf: Spike, 2008, 5.5”h x 8”w x 3” d, wheelthrown and altered porcelain with handbuilt components; black slip and shellac resist; oxidation fired to cone 10
I am yet to meet a woman who does not smile knowingly or even laugh out loud when viewing “Spike.” “Für die Schönheit muß man leiden” — “For beauty, one must suffer.”
The fashion industry only seduced me into wearing too-high heels for a short time in my life. It was a long time ago, yet I do have a strong physical memory of how my feet felt after walking an unplanned distance or standing longer than anticipated in them.
“Spike” has innumerable permutations for viewing. When all of the black, orange, yellow, and white “pins” are removed, Spike is somewhat of a trompe l’oeil with the raised black dots disguising its holes. The pins at first glance seem to be playful pain indicators. Yet, because the pins are pointed on both ends, when we place them into Spike, can we feel also a wee bit of revenge?
→ This interview is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One, Winter 2011-2012.
Ceramics Now Magazine: From functional, to decorative or aesthetical, your works also vary in techniques and materials. Tell us about your woolen felt creations.
Jorie Johnson: I am drawn to the painterly and sculptural characteristics of feltmaking with its broad capabilities as a “hard textile” but which also lends itself to soft, sensual body wraps. I like the challenge of completing a work that functions in a practical way as well as becoming an object of aesthetic value. Unlike weaving, each felt piece is disconnected from the next, so in that way, a seamless, three-dimensional vessel, hat or bag may remind us more of a ceramic form than a textile.
The essential material of wool comes from sheep which grow new fleeces each year and which have served mankind in very isolated regions of the world. I love the natural color of wool, as well as, the possibility to blend it with other fibers, to dye the wool or to over dye a completed piece and manipulate its’ shape through this procedure. Now with years of practice I can approach a work from different angles, theorizing which method works best for an expected results, but while shaping and finishing I am on the alert to pick up on a characteristic born through the process that I never figured on. This spontaneity keeps things very interesting.
Jorie Johnson Spring Collection 2011 (beret, vest, skirt, neck wraps), wool, novelty yarn, silk fabric, linen lace fabric, silk cord. Photo by Toyoda Yuzo - View her works
You are using many layering techniques. Can you explain the process of making a new piece? How long does it take?
The matrix of the work is hard to see by the naked eye but while the selected wool fibers start their migration progress they entangle and actually pierce and consume auxiliary materials such as Japanese Washi, silk organza, cotton gauze, skeletal leaves, lace and so on, into the surface of the fabric and become an integral part of the finished fabric we call as FELT. Under optimal conditions (increase in humidity, higher temperatures, change in pH, application of agitation, etc.) and using a selection of different sheep breeds a variety of fabrics result from dense, coarse carpet weight to silky merino blends for sensual neck wraps.
In order to achieve fine fabrics I use many thin layers of carded wool but for the loftier carpets I use coarser wool in thicker layers. Once the design and materials are selected and the shrink factor determined I work as swiftly as possible to complete a piece within a few days as not to cause the wet wool and auxiliary materials to begin to break down. I have to commit to a “work swipe” as I call it, not to damage the wool, silk or other materials by keeping them wet for too long.
Jorie Johnson (Joi Rae): Olympia Series Jacket 2006, wool, leather. Photo by Kobayashi You.
I love making asymmetrical collars and also working the edge of a piece to produce a soft “washi” paper effect rather than a hard cut edge. Here also, the bits of color were laid between the black wool base and the white top layer before the felting process began to help emphasize the collars and jacket edges. My influence came from the Central Asian nomadic herders coats but with a little Joi Rae Textiles twist. Stitched pocket flap and felt rope closure.
/ Keiko Gallery - Japanese artists