15th Hour

The feeling lately has been that by spending a full day in the sun, weeding, pruning, digging, and a few hours cooking for everyone after I get home… I’ve earned my hour in the studio before bed finds me. I’d prefer more, but I can be reasonably content with a chance to put another single freshly slipped cup on a wareboard, left waiting for a turn through the kiln.
It’s about all I have the energy for, and sadly that’s even getting harder to come up with. Make it count. Do what you want to see done.

Working with Whimsy

Greenware surface design made using multiple slips and underglazes

I thought that this process would be more flexible and less time intensive than using paper stencils. It has flexibility, being that new designs can easily be created, but the process (as it currently stands) doesn’t have the ability to adjust on the fly while being applied.

Second, it still takes time to lay down the design on paper using the underglazes and slips. The haptic quality of the surface just appears to be the result of a quick process (and in relative way, it’s very quick), it turns out, it’s not really any quicker.

A single cup will generally take a 1/2 hour to an hour to slip and apply a surface design.

There’s the option of using screen printing to set up the base lines of a design on the paper and speeding up the process… it’s a possibility, it helps solve some of the time issue…

… but I’m not sure if the predictability of a silkscreen is something that would keep my attention. I’m not even sure it’s something that I would value beyond doing it just to experience the process.

This is just the front end of diving into this process. This is all brand new. I’m open to branching off and exploring, but I’m also trying to maintain focus and use the limited amount of time I get in the studio to move ideas forward rather than chase new rabbits. It’s easy for me to enjoy the whimsy of drawing each design from scratch and it’s the whimsy that shows. I can only hope that others enjoy it as well.

Moving Towards Shaping an Aesthetic

Paper transferred slipped surface design on greenware
Paper strips with initial outlining done using underglaze.
Subject matter is subordinate to design… it’s an ideal, that the function of the form, the the psychological impacts of each of the elements that make up the form, and the recognition and attention to each element… all take precedence over the subject matter of the surface design.
Not to necessarily downplay the importance of a surface. An archetype object has itself as a presence to lean back on. The surface design is meant to embellish the the object. It excentuates. Embellishment need not be made tobe the purpose of the object, the surface design honors the archetype of the object itself. It lures thane by way of the eye like bee too a flower. The intention is to move the user into the work as they hold it. I want the lip to feel a certain way against the lips, the curve and angles of the hips and foot to waken the fingers as they are held, the weight and balance to delight the wrist, the surface to arouse the eye… It’s a bit much to ask of a little clay cup, but magically it does seem to happen.

Paper Transfer Project

The kids joined me out in the studio for a round of experimental design. It was a quick lesson to familiarize themselves with the mechanics and materials of a paper transfer process. 

It’s novel watching these two young adults move around in the studio. They play without any sense of negative self consciousness. It’s a perfect headspace to help me work through an approach to creating designs that have the comfort of in house traditional form and surface design aesthetic that’s calming, not overstimulating.

Ideally, I’m wanting the forms to be examples of high craft and the surfaces to have a whimsical feel. With all the negativity of the Covid virus, I’m temporarily moving away from FetishGhost’s usual noir and towards a lighter motif choose for a while. For the Blum family, it only makes sense to make flowers our subject matter of choice.


Today’s drawing is charcoal and white pastel on a piece of my daughter’s handmade paper. The soft and uneven texture of the paper made for a soft focus image. It has possilities if worked along with fixative to build up layers, adding a few simple lines and values used to move the eye.

Viable Solutions

The studio door rolled up and space was cleared, long past time to see if the hands could really remember how to make this happen, and surprisingly, they did. It did take a break in sobriety to open the literal and metaphorical door. This is a decision that was (is) scary for me. I don’t want to return to a lifestyle of addiction. It did work though, and now that the door has been opened, I’m finding that I’m comfortable in the studio, even preferring to make my decisions sober. The reckless aspects of my decision making is being toned down. Toned down, but not absent. There’s still a value being placed on using inquisitive activity and calculated risk to move projects in directions that are unfamiliar.

The challenge this time around is to change without a monkey in the cockpit.
I’m 2 and a half years clean and sober and I want to see what I can do with that. Reliving the safety of past designs doesn’t possess the allure to keep me in the studio.

So this is the tip of the spear for this round of work. It’s a simple paper transfer process that resembles reverse glass painting, building up layers of underglaze and colored slip on newsprint and transferred to a leather hard clay surface. The process lends a flavor to the surface. The trailed lines are inherently loose and playful, and the surface has a peeled paint look and feel. There’s plenty of potential directions that this can (and will) be taken, but most importantly, I feel that it’s a working solution for bringing drawing to the surfaces that are being created.


How can there be an understanding of what is being done as it’s being done?  The firsthand  observation of process and an internal awareness of measured expectation is a notoriously different experience from an overlaying subjective meaning onto a finished work. Significance is given by each viewer by choice, not by the pronouncements of the maker. We are simply unable to make reasoned judgments regarding what is being done. What appears to be good while we are in the throes of process is often later reevaluated as mundane and pandering to the safety of the crowd, while similarly its the work that frustrates, forces decisions, and begs questions that in turn arouses interest when presented.


Inside of the “structure” of a target, there’s plenty of room for individuality to be realized… much the same way that stories are found inside the framework of language, or a drawing can be found inside of an image, everything between an idea and its attempted perfection is relevant to the experience.

A Safe Space

There’s a feeling that’s attuned to when I’m allowed to go to inside my head, when I’m able to make space to experience exploring. I would like to think of it as a safe space, I even tell myself it is just that, but it’s not as simple as that. It’s a space full of decisions, judgment, and disappointment… it’s also a space of wonder, elation, and joy. It’s a space that allows for a sense of control to be possible. A space where I can find a identity within myself. It’s an arena. It’s a stage. It’s a safe place to play just as it’s a safe place to fail. Any part of me is in bounds without need for self censorship.

Diminish time spent with this space, and I am diminished as well.