Interview with ceramic artist Jim Kraft - Ceramic Technique, June-July 2011
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Ceramics Now Magazine: What was the starting point in your investigation (research) with earthenware clay?
Jim Kraft: When I set up my studio I bought an electric kiln which satisfied my needs as I was interested in making objects that were not meant to be functional or to be displayed outdoors. I did not want to cover the clay with a glaze, I wanted the earthen colors of the clay to be prominent.
In what techniques do you usually work and what materials do you use?
My work is solely hand-built. I roll 25# slabs of clay by hand. I use a clay extruder to make my coils .I imbed dry colorants in both the slabs and the coils. I throw dry colorants on the ware boards as I roll the slabs, the moist clay picks up the dry materials. Depending on what series I’m working on I build the vessel forms using cut up or torn slab pieces and twisted off sections of coils. I use earthenware clay in either a buff or a red color. After the piece is bisqued I brush on a black/brown slip, I let that dry and the next day I wipe it off. It stays in the cracks and crevasses. Then I brush on a clear glaze. I let that dry and wipe it off the next day. I leave enough to give it life but not shine. I want the surface of the clay to absorb light not reflect it. This is a building up of the surface, layering, as you might do in print making or painting. Then I fire it a final time.
Cord 5 - View Jim Kraft’s works
What is your present project, what’s its history and how do you make the pieces? Tell us more about the process.
Currently I’m building vessel forms using short torn pieces of clay coils and stacking them, like cord wood. The end of each torn piece faces the viewer. It’s like building with wine bottle corks or cigar butts, but end up looking more like natural, organic objects such as bird nests, bee hives or tree stumps. The trick is finding the place where they don’t look like any of those things but allude to any and all of them. However I always want them to read as vessel forms, something that contains.