David Gallagher: Specific Ubiquity (Green Space), 2010, Portland Cement, Lab Glass, Miracle Grow, Unfired Iron Rich Clay, Grass
Elizabeth Shriver: Seed Pod, 2007, Ceramic, 13 x 17 x 17 in.
Liliana Folta: An Abstract Poem of Freedom, detail, 2009
Debra Fleury: Limpid, 2011. Dark Stoneware, Porcelain and glass. Fired to cone 6 (neutral atmosphere), (wall or surface installation). Dimensions variable, average size per individual piece is approximately 11 cm x 11 cm x 5 cm
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→ The full interview with Deborah Britt is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two.
Ceramics Now Magazine: You are in this field for more than ten years now; when exactly did it all start? Tell us how you discovered the passion for ceramics.
Deborah Britt: My passion for ceramics came rather late. Having been born and raised on a farm in Northwest Missouri, far away from big city influences, exposure to the arts was minimal. Art classes in my small-town school were non-existent past grade school—with a student body of 60 students in grades 1 through 12, resources were focused on the practical skills and knowledge essential to a farming community.
My interest in the arts began in college, where I was first exposed to fine arts through an Art Appreciation course. After earning a degree in Business, and subsequently a Masters Degree, I was firmly entrenched in the corporate world. The spark that ignited my interest in art, however, continued to smolder, but it wasn’t until I witnessed a wheel-throwing demonstration at a local art fair that my desire to delve into clay became real. After 13 years in business, I returned to school with a whole-hearted desire to master the art and craft of clay, ultimately earning a BFA degree in Ceramics. I have never looked back.
Blue Pitcher Set, 8” x 13”, Wheel-Thrown and Altered, Salt-Fired Porcelain with Slip and Glaze Decoration, Cone Ten, 2011 - View Deborah Britt’s works
You are mostly creating pottery pieces. How would you explain your attraction for functional ceramics?
I was initially attracted to the wheel. Learning to throw basic utilitarian forms was a joy to me. The tactile sensation of wet clay is so seductive! However, there are some ideas that cannot be conveyed by functional pots, thus I also do sculptural work. I like the idea of making work that is approachable both on an intimate and intellectual level.
Making functional work appeals to the part of me that wants to connect personally with the user. I love the idea that the work will be handled, and I strive to make work that goes beyond the basic utilitarian form. In other words, I strive to make the work “special” for the user, in an effort to elevate the mundane, e.g., drinking a cup of tea, into the conscious enjoyment of the daily ritual, rather than a routine act.
I love to play with form, so even in my functional work I like to bring in a sculptural sensibility. The functional and sculptural forms play off each other—one idea leads to the next—so for me, the back and forth of sculptural vs. functional is essential.
—- The full interview will be featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two.
There is a remarkable touch of sensibility in your decorations. Tell us more about how you decorate and where do you get inspiration from.
I am intrigued by the fact that we as humans are so connected to the earth, from the food we eat to the ceramic cup we drink from. I am drawn to relatively matte surfaces, perhaps because of their tactile nature or maybe because of their relationship to nature itself.
I want the clay to look like clay, and have been drawn to the salt firing process because of the ability to let the beauty of the clay body speak for itself as it fuses with salt. The element of surprise that arises from firing to firing with the phenomenon of flashing and variation of salt distribution has always held great interest for me.
Deborah Britt: Alien Vegetable, 20” x 14”, Hand-Built with Slip Decoration, Wood-Fired Stoneware, Cone Ten, 2008
Interview with Fujita Toshiaki - Japanese lacquer artist represented by Keiko Gallery, October 2011
→ This interview is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One, Winter 2011-2012.
Ceramics Now Magazine: Not many people know that lacquer is used to make art pieces. Can you tell us more about this material and how do you use it?
Fujita Toshiaki: The Urushi tree (Rhus Vernicifera) is a member of the sumac family of trees, found in various parts of Asia. The trees produce the sap which has been used as the coating and the adhesive material in Japan more than 9000 years. A poisonous substance when in liquid form (causing skin irritation), it becomes non-toxic on hardening and is waterproof and acid-proof. There are some examples that Native American use the sap of sumac, poison ivy or oak with the same purposes.
The season for harvesting sap is from June to October, and an Urushi tree must be between 8 to 13 years old before it is mature enough to produce only one cup of sap. The sap, an opaque light brown color, oozes from the slashes on the trunk, and it’s carefully scraped with a special tool; after this procces the sap is called Arami-Urushi. The Sap is stirred and carefully heated to equalize its components and remove excess fluid. Those Urushi is called Sugurome-Urushi or Kijiro-Urushi and used as the coating material for the upper layers.
The drying system of Urushi is very different from other painting materials. Drying Urushi means to be harden. The laccase enzyme reacts in Urusiol which is hardening constituent and initiates a chemical reaction: oxidation polymerization. To increase the activity of the chemical reaction, the ideal temperature is 77F and the moisture set to 80%. That means if the air is too dry, the lacquer never gets dry.
I focused on this characteristic drying system on Urushi and pursued to create the sculptures called layered forms. I daringly remove other elements in Urushi crafts, because they might interrupt my essential concept for my layered form series. However to understand what is lacquer or lacquer art, I should not deal with only unusual dying systems of Urushi, but also should focus on the traditional techniques, because sometimes we can find the answer in the techniques which were sophisticated and established by our forefathers. For the reason, I worked hard to acquire techniques like woodwork, dry-lacquer, colorings, coatings and decorations.
Susan Meyer: Together, 2008, Laser cut acrylic, H-O scale figures, wood, video and sound, dimensions variable
Susan Meyer: Together, alternative view, 2008, Laser cut acrylic, H-O scale figures, wood, video and sound, dimensions variable