Paper-Thin Ceramic Pieces Puzzle Together to Form Elegant Vessels by Ellis Moseley
Through a methodical and labor-intensive process of layering petals of thin clay, Adelaide-based artist Ellis Moseley creates elegant, airy vessels that appear to flutter where they sit. Using paper-clay slip—a fine-grained, lightweight, and durable ceramic medium made from mixing clay slip with fiber—the sculptures are composed of strips dried on a plaster bat. The individual pieces are then peeled away and applied to a smooth base. He begins at the bottom and works up in a loose spiral, retaining the delicate edges and emphasizing each vessel’s contours.
In his recent exhibition Heist at Hugo Michell Gallery, Moseley focused on a color palette of pastel pinks, blues, and greens, coalescing fine art and functionality. Find more of his slip-cast work on his website.
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Spikes, Interlocked Rings, and Bold Bulges Sprout from Megan Bogonovich’s Otherworldly Ceramic Botanicals
“There is a tree on my road that has been cut very strangely to accommodate a power line, and I think about that tree a lot,” says Megan Bogonovich, who envisions the otherworldly potential of human touch on the environment through playful, botanical sculptures.
Based in Norwich, Vermont, Bogonovich recognizes nature’s immense capability for adaptation and strength in seemingly inhospitable spaces. “The whole dandelion growing out of a pavement crack thing,” she says. Her works embody transformation and abundant growth, and unusual colors, shapes, and textures arise in surreal combinations. With bulbous bases, spiked protrusions, and interlocked petals, the works imagine “the batty possibilities of what could be growing in the universe or what might be the first thing to sprout up after an environmental disaster.”
Rooted in play and the “ceaseless goofiness” of reproduction, the sculptures evolve throughout a lengthy process. Bogonovich begins by hand-building small geometric and organic forms like cones, tubes, ovoids, and textured patches made with drilled holes, cuts, and everyday objects like buttons, which she then casts in plaster to make a mold. “If I cast 30 molds one day, by the next day I have a set of slip-cast tinkertoy-type parts that I can alter and bend or duplicate. It’s a lot of labored build-up to get to a point where I can work spontaneously and impulsively with a material that would otherwise want planning,” she says.
These malleable forms are then fired and readied for glazing, a slow, meticulous process that involves several layers and bouts in the kiln at varying temperatures. “The sculptures are matte white when they first come out of the kiln. I let a lot of pieces build up before I start glazing,” Bogonovich says. “I get used to being surrounded by ghost flowers, so when the tide changes to color it feels like a big shift in the studio.” Like nature, glazing is unpredictable, and the pastel pinks, bold oranges, and mottled hues add a whimsical, playful element to the works. “I live in the woods in Vermont, and at this time of year, there is so much green. It’s nice to imagine bright yellow tree trunks or hot pink maple leaves,” she says.
Bogonovich works with Kishka Gallery & Library, where she recently held a solo show, and has sculptures on view through May 20 at SPRING/BREAK Art Show in New York. Find more of her pieces on her site and Instagram.
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‘Drip! Drop! Slice!’ Bursts with Color and Texture Inside the You Are Beautiful Gallery
Oozing mounds, supple paper pods, and tightly coiled handles capture the vast range of color, texture, and shape within Drip! Drop! Slice! The first guest-curated exhibition at the You Are Beautiful Gallery and the project of Colossal’s founder and publisher Christopher Jobson, the show is vibrant and energetic as it brings several mediums and works by nine artists to the Chicago space. There are tufted tapestries by the anonymous Mz. Icar Collective, Brian Giniewski’s signature drippy pots, and a collection of wildly popular mugs from Lolly Lolly Ceramics, all of which exude the playful, optimistic tone of the You Are Beautiful message.
Find available pieces on the gallery’s site, and stop in to see the works in person through July 8.
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Ukrainian Artist Julia Pilipchatina Draws on the Centuries-Old Tradition of Porcelain Painting with the Future In Mind
In the 7th or 8th century, Chinese artisans devised a way to combine feldspar and kaolin and fire it at a very high temperature to produce the first porcelain, which was traded globally and highly sought-after for its elegant surfaces and ornate designs. The precise process wasn’t easy to replicate: not until the early 18th century did makers in Germany first achieve the right mix of materials and methods to produce the ceramic in Europe. Around the world, the bright, white surfaces of dinnerware and decorative vessels provided canvases for the painstaking craft of porcelain painting, emphasizing numerous patterned layers of colorful glaze. For Ukrainian artist Julia Pilipchatina, the craft of hand-embellishing plates connects her to a rich creative legacy and to personal stories and family heirlooms.
Formally educated as a historian, Pilipchatina is fascinated by the profound ties to ancestry and culture that tableware represents. “By choosing a unique plate for ourselves, we draw upon our own values, and—I hope—these objects remain in our families as testament to the lives of past generations,” she says. As a refugee from Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine, the artist was forced to close her workshop, leave all of her belongings behind—save for her two dogs—and start from scratch. Now in Belgium, she’s developing a series of plates depicting detailed, chromatic insects with spotted wings, serrated legs, and feathery feet. She says:
The Beetles series was born out of an attempt to overcome my fear. It’s difficult for me to approach the topic of war. It’s too painful and feels like a black hole that drags me in as soon as I focus on it. But I suppose the nature of fear is the same, and I decided to take on a somewhat safe but strong and irrational fear of insects.
While insects have long appeared in ceramic tableware alongside other popular motifs like birds, trees, and bucolic landscapes, Pilipchatina renders each critter in a style mirroring her watercolor illustrations, inspired by an encyclopedia depicting exotic, jewel-colored specimens in intricate detail. The more she studied the images, the more the creatures ceased to be a source of anxiety as she noted their elaborate patterns and found beauty in their vibrance and textures.
Each bug’s bold, saturated color emerges through the meticulous layering of thin coats of paint, or overglaze, to the surface, then firing the piece at 800 degrees Celsius. “The cycle consists of heating and cooling to room temperature, which means that one firing can last 12 hours,” Pilipchatina says. “Since the paint is semi-transparent, achieving brightness, depth, and contrast requires many layers, and therefore many firings.”
Emphasizing beauty as a reprieve from the loss of her home and the ugliness of war, the artist focuses on tenderness and fragility in the natural world and humanity’s relationship with it and one another. Combining art and utility, an elegantly crafted dish emphasizes longevity, continuity, and tradition while connecting loved ones around the table. She says, “Having an item that belonged to a grandmother or great-grandmother is of great value and rarity. Now, I am creating such objects for the future.”
Pilipchatina explores a range of decorative ceramic designs in addition to a few series of illustrations about her dogs and children’s stories. You can find much more of her work on Behance, Instagram, and in her Etsy shop.
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Art Craft Design
Traditional Design Meets Modern Function in Natura Ceramica’s Elemental Earthenware Vessels
Harnessing the rich, organic textures of soil, stone, and timber, Ukrainian artists Andriy and Olesya Voznicki of Natura Ceramica create voluminous ceramic vessels and sculptures. Based in Amsterdam, the duo draw inspiration from natural phenomena like the changing seasons, patinas and aging, and elements like fire or earth. The pieces mirror the shapes and textures of boulders or lava rock, suggesting both beauty and resiliency and influenced by a concept called bionic design, which mimics characteristics and adaptations in nature.
While many pieces are presented series—such as Gonta, which often features old oak shingles nestled into cushion-like clay forms—each piece is unique. “The inspiration for the vases comes from both ancient Carpathian architecture and modern bionic design,” reads a statement. “The use of old shingle roofs that have their own history adds a sense of nostalgia and a connection to the past.”
Find more on the Natura Ceramica website and Instagram.
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Ceramic ‘Curiosity Clouds’ by Manifesto Celebrate the Natural World in Functional Organic Forms
The practice of assembling cabinets of curiosities, or Wunderkammers, may date back to the 16th century, but the human impulse to collect, document, study, and learn from our surroundings goes back millennia. Scottish artist Katie Rose Johnston, who works as Manifesto, celebrates the timeless pastime of collecting in her series Curiosity Clouds. Exploring ceramics at the intersection of art and history, she draws inspiration from natural phenomena and blurring the line between form and function.
Johnston was inspired to create the organic forms after a visit to The Hunterian in Glasgow, where she was fascinated by a vitrine tucked away in the rear of the museum. Displaying bird and insect nests from around the world, it included a cross-section of a termite mound featuring an elaborate network of compartments that the insects use for ventilation. “It was a really compelling form that mimicked a set of printer’s drawers in my mother’s home, which were filled with bits and bobs, mudlarked treasures, and our childhood crafts,” she tells Colossal. “The form of the dissected termite mound was really appealing, like a Wunderkammer from an alternate universe.”
The Curiosity Clouds are made using terracotta crank, a type of textured, groggy clay that is often used to make large, durable pots. Johnston forms each piece intuitively rather than relying on sketches, and she enjoys the way the material mimics the earthy, organic, meandering texture of the termite mounds. Always experimenting with different methods, she recently began incorporating materials found in the wild, like a slip coating made from clay gathered from her favorite beach. “It’s unseived to retain the small pebbles and roots which are elemental to the place they were found, and the clay is mica-rich and has a deep, metallic shimmer to the surface,” she says. “It’s rather magical.”
Johnston announces updates to the Manifesto shop every few months, with the next restock scheduled for August. You can find more of her work on her website, and follow updates or learn more about her process on Instagram.
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