Monthly Archives: August 2020

Where are We Standing 

If the aesthetic is brutish haptic, these are flinging themselves close to the mark. They are definitely challenging what I consider acceptable by questioning what is unacceptable…. Does a perfectly suitable functional object become less suitable because its surface design is outside a subjective norm.

It’s a lot of color (that’s a big change)…. The line quality is too uniform (use your brushes)… Figure out the terminus lines (measure more, guess less)… It’s ok for the haptic and brutish to emerge, it doesn’t need appear that a 4th grader is doing the work.

Collaborative work with my studio partner Jessica Fong. She’s been throwing and trimming the forms and I’ve been creating the slip paper transfers.

the result looks like bad cake decorating. I don’t think that’s a plus. Still…. It’s an interesting place to find myself standing.

Question of Identity

A few years have passed by while procrastinating opening up to the process of slip transfer drawing, a neat little trick we touched on briefly a decade back when trying to guess at how Forrest Middleton was creating his surfaces. The excuse that I was relying on to not give it a real try was recently dismissed as a moot point, being that I could no longer reason that “I can’t draw”. After spending a year and a half drawing nearly everyday, I can draw well enough to match the chore at hand and the chore at hand in this case is haptic by nature.

At this point, I can draw well enough to explore the process and develop composional ideas. It’s easy to get carried away in the moment and either take a design too far or not far enough. A large part of this exercise is to give in an allow intuition to take the lead and see what happens. The challenges that pop up provide opportunities for creative problem solving and the failures are lessons that provide direction.

One of the issues that I’m struggling with has nothing to do directly with the process itself and instead touches on identity… do these objects have an identity independent of the maker? Do they need to be attached to a personality or a brand to realize the worth attributed to them or can they stand on their own? Despite enjoying the process and the works, do I want to be known for making these?

I know the work will generally stand up just fine. It’s solid craftsmanship. It doesn’t need me to say that it is to make it so. I just don’t think it will be able to be seen. These are meant to be quiet objects, and they are in comparison to much of what is being offered, but when held individually, they are obnoxious.

Do I want to be known for making these?… I’ll stand with my work, but I’ll work to make sure it’s not what defines me.

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.