Ceramics

Exploring Clay: My Journey with Ceramics

“Don’t think about making art; just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art” – Woody Allen

“In England, there is a dividing line between artists and illustrators, who are thought inferior to painters. Well, that’s absolute rubbish. Some of the most creative work is being done in children’s books. In Japan, everything is art. They don’t say painting is better than ceramics or dress design.” – Brian Wildsmith

Three collections

In 2017, I established a studio intending to bring my “dance” with cancer into a visual art form. However, I soon realized that the planned process was not working for me. Instead, I found my passion in making ceramic, which allowed me to experiment with different colors, patterns, and textures. This helped me create something tangible and beautiful from my struggles and, ultimately, find comfort.

After taking classes at Santa Monica College and The Pasadena Art Center, I explored clay from an autodidactic perspective. I found its malleability to be highly stimulating, but I realized that wheel throwing was not the route I wanted to pursue. Instead, I focused on two hand-building techniques – coil and slab – to investigate texture, form, and color. Through this exploration, I have developed a deep appreciation for the versatility of clay and the many ways it can be manipulated.

Candle Holders

My exploration began by creating vertical compositions of colorful glazed ceramic balls and twisted glass rods. Topping off this unique arrangement was a candle holder. All are resting on a wooden base. When one of the imperfect ceramic balls broke, I was inspired to glue its pieces back together, a method known as Kintsukuroi. By combining traditional materials and techniques, I was able to create unique pieces that could serve as both art and functionality. Through this exploration, I continued to refine my craft and explore the boundaries of ceramic design.

 

Vases

Ceramic vases are created through a process known as “slab rolling,” which involves rolling a pre-patterned clay slab onto a cylinder to form cylindrical shapes. This technique is commonly used in pottery and ceramic making to create aesthetically-pleasing vases. The process begins with flat clay slabs being rolled out with a slab roller to the desired size and thickness. The slab is then placed on top of a template, such as a patterned rubber door mattress, and pressed into the template to give the clay slab the desired pattern design. The slab is then rolled around a cylinder, like a PVC pipe, smoothed and shaped as it goes. As the slab is rolled, the surface pattern is transferred onto the vase. The vase is left to dry until it is “leather hard,” trimmed, and refined with either hand tools or a pottery wheel. The vase is then fired in a kiln to harden and set the clay, then glazed and fired again to give it a glossy finish. Slab rolling is a popular technique for creating ceramic vases and other cylindrical forms due to its wide range of decorative possibilities.

What is Kintsukuroi?

Kintsukuroi is a traditional Japanese repair technique that uses gold or silver lacquer to mend broken pottery or ceramics. The gold or silver lacquer highlights the cracks, creating a unique and visually striking effect. Kintsukuroi is a form of art that expresses beauty and appreciation for the imperfections in life. It represents the idea that something broken can be made even more beautiful through repair. Today, Kintsukuroi is practiced by both professional and amateur potters and ceramists to create unique works of art and is often used as a metaphor for finding beauty and value in difficult experiences.

Porcelain Plates

Porcelain plates are a type of ceramic plate made from kaolin clay. These plates are renowned for their strength and durability and are highly resistant to chipping and cracking. They are fired at very high temperatures to give a hard, glossy finish and are usually glazed to create a smooth, stain-resistant surface. Porcelain plates are also easy to care for and maintain, making them a convenient and attractive option for busy households.

Porcelain plates are an excellent canvas for custom images and designs. Through a process known as sublimation printing, it is possible to transfer a design onto the plate using heat and pressure. This process begins with a particular type of transfer paper printed with an inkjet printer, which is then placed onto the ceramic plate and heated to a high temperature. As the plate is heated, the ink on the transfer paper sublimates or turns from a solid into a gas, penetrating the ceramic plate’s surface, bonding with the glaze, and creating a permanent, high-quality print. With the right equipment and technique, sublimation printing is a great way to add unique, personalized touches to porcelain plates for home decor, gifts, and promotional items.