Interview with Margrieta Jeltema - Ceramic Technique, May 2011

Interview with Italian ceramic artist Margrieta Jeltema - Ceramic Technique, May 2011

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Ceramics Now Magazine
: What was the starting point in your investigation with paperclay?

Margrieta Jeltema: Some years ago, when I had finished some jewelry pieces using porcelain together with paper, a  friend suggested to translate the paper part in porcelain as well. I tried and failed but my mistakes turned out rather nice in their own way. They encouraged me to explore this path…
Now observing earlier pieces it seems the idea of folding was already there.

I think any research in art is not just a technical one. Yes I wanted my porcelain to resemble paper but most of all I wanted it to have a life of its own.
My porcelain objects have grown to be flowers, they are wishes or a song. They belong to a different world, follow different rules, not those accepted by the pragmatic world of utility, they truly belong to the “world of beauty and imagination*”.

The technical skills with paper-thin ceramics have their origin in beliefs about the nature of art. Objects made by human beings belong to the realm of art when seen as aesthetically pleasing.
Seeing something as a work of art or looking at it are not the same. Looking has a beginning and end. Seeing however is an achievement – it has no beginning, no stretch of time, it is the realization that we are confronted with something different. The work of art is not confined in a cave of individuality. It participates in an essential way in our everyday communication. From the act of seeing emerges our ability to understand a message.
The beautiful object has an intention; the intention of sharing, of telling a story and exploring our world of imagination.

Message, story, communication, these are the words which describe my previous occupation with writing, using paper, making books with etchings.
I was held captured by these sheets of paper on which I could try to communicate with others.
My Loveletters and my Ode to Monet go back to my obsession with paper carrying stories to those prepared to look, to understand and hopefully, to enjoy them.

Folded loveletter - View her works

Ceramics Now Magazine:  Do you find working with porcelain hard, especially if you try to make it look like paper?

Margrieta Jeltema: Working with porcelain is really easy if you get a bit used to its terrible shrinking, its proneness to distortion, it’s tendency to collapse and its ability to ‘remember’!…
But there are also many advantages over other clays. It is easy to join dried pieces together or repair a piece before baking, it is easy to glaze using a brush (saving on amounts of glaze) as most unevenness will disappear in the high temperatures and of course usually colors look nice and bright on the white body.
What I find really difficult is the handling of the folded Loveletters when they are only bisque fired and still extremely fragile. Because I want to glaze them only on the backside I have to turn them someway. Eventually I solved this using a piece of light foam polystyrene with which I can turn the letter like a omelet on a lid (some cooking experience helps a lot in ceramics).

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