clay

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Art Craft

Precise Replicas Cast Wildlife and Plants as Delightfully Tiny Sculptures

July 14, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Fanni Sandor, shared with permission

Fanni Sandor (previously) melds her background in biology with a decades-long enthusiasm for miniatures by creating an adorable menagerie of minuscule wildlife. Based in Hungary, she sculpts 1:12 scale models of leaping squirrels and multicolor tree frogs from clay and soft fibers and more recently has ventured into larger ecosystems populated by speckled mushrooms, ferns, and the tiniest tulips. Sandor’s biologically accurate models are sold out on Etsy right now, but keep an eye on shop updates by following her on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Craft

Innumerable Pieces of Dyed Clay Envelop Meditative Sculptures in Subtle Patterns and Gradients

June 7, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Clements Shade” (2020), porcelain ,29.5 x 16 x 43 centimetres. Photo by Mark Robson. All images © Alice Walton, shared with permission

Thin ribbons of porcelain ripple across the surfaces of Alice Walton’s abstract sculptures. Gently sloped domes and pillars are covered in countless individual strips, which vary in thickness and length and add irregular texture and depth to the finished pieces. “Every mark I make, whether this be a tool mark or a fingerprint, are preserved in the firing and are not covered or coated or inhibited by a glaze,” the artist writes. “I want the viewer to be able to look at my sculptures from afar and to have one perception of the surface (and) then want to explore closer. On a nearer inspection, the surface decoration reveals layers of multiple colours and time spent through process.”

Focusing on the meditative qualities of repetition, Walton combines pastels and vibrant Earth tones to evoke the sights of her surrounding environment and travels. “The vividly painted sun-bleached street walls and the monsoon-drenched temples, to me, instantly resembled the dry powdery palette of coloured clays,” she shares about a visit to Rajasthan, India. Her choices in pigment still revolve around what she sees on a daily basis—these range from old maps to the seasonal landscapes nearby her studio in Somerset, U.K.—that result in undulating stripes or bold gradients composed with more than 40 colors in “Clements Shade.”

At the 2019 British Ceramics Biennial, Walton was awarded a residency with Wedgwood, where she’s currently working on a new series of sculptural vessels made from the English company’s traditional Jasper clay. Those pieces will be shown at the 2021 biennial in September. She’ll also have work at London’s Chelsea Design Centre from June 22 to 29 and at MAKE Hauser & Wirth Somerset in November. Until then, explore more of her sculptures on her site and Instagram. (via Seth Rogan)

 

“Clements Shade” (2020), porcelain, 29.5 x 16 x 43 centimeters. Photo by Mark Robson

Detail of “Avonvale Mapping” (2020), colored porcelain. Photo by Alice Walton

“Avon Ribbons” (2020), colored porcelain, 30.5 x 28 x 28 centimeters. Photo by Alice Walton

Detail of “Janta Grove.” Photo by Sylvain Deleu

“Vale Ribbons” (2020), colored porcelain, 18.5 x 10.5 x 22 centimeters. Photo by Alice Walton

“Ley Line Pair” (2021), porcelain, 14 x 14 x 31 centimeters and 14 x 14 x 31 centimeters. Photo by Mark Robson

Detail of “Avonvale Mapping” (2020), colored porcelain. Photo by Alice Walton

“Avon Strata,” wall-mountable colored porcelain, 48.5 x 48.5 x 1.5 centimeters. Photo by Alice Walton

 

 



Art

Innumerable Spines Cover Amorphous Sea Creatures Sculpted in Clay by Marguerita Hagan

April 15, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Blushing,” hand-built ceramic, 3.25 x 5 x 2.5 inches. All images © Marguerita Hagan, by Richard W. Gretzinger, shared with permission

Prior to sculpting the prickly lifeforms that comprise her Marine Abstracts series, Marguerita Hagan plunged into the waters surrounding the Cayman Islands to get a glimpse of the coral and sponges inhabiting the region. “My research is important to my work, whether from seeing firsthand like diving, which manifested the sponge and coral-inspired Marine Abstracts, or visiting labs and working with my scientist friends,” the Philadelphia-based artist says. “I am passionate about learning, and I immerse myself into the life of each piece/species.”

Mimicking the porous bodies of the aquatic creatures, the resulting works are amorphous in shape and hand-built in sweeping gestures from low-fire clay. Hagan subjects the ceramic forms to anywhere between three and eight rounds of firing in the kiln before they’re airbrushed with pastel glazes. Pocked with holes and covered in tiny bristles arranged with meticulous precision, each piece can take months to complete.

 

“Swept,” hand-built ceramic, 6.5 x 8.25 x 6.5 inches

When presented in a gallery space, Hagan contextualizes many of her works by pairing them with animated projections, creating holistic installations that situate individual sculptures within a larger ecosystem. It’s a way to generate conversation about interdependence and the need to protect these fragile forms, the artist says, explaining the concept further:

Microscopic marine organisms form the basis of all life on our planet and connect in exquisite systems or colonies. These one-cell plankton gems, our primary producers provide over 50% of the oxygen for the planet with light from the sun. Rich diversity and reciprocal sharing power thriving communities and environments. This light-giving flow has enabled all life to thrive for eons…We are in a time of epic shifts and are responsible for the changes needed now. The work intends to uplift spirits, awareness, renewable action and timely sustainable investments for all life.

You can see many of the abstracted pieces shown here, alongside dozens of Hagan’s sculptures, as part of Biospheres, which is on view both in-person and virtually at HOT•BED in Philadelphia through May 8. For a larger collection of the artist’s works, check out her site and Instagram.

 

“Swept,” hand-built ceramic, 6.5 x 8.25 x 6.5 inches

Detail of “Aquamarine Whisper,” hand-built ceramic, 6.75 x 4 x 5 inches

“Aquamarine Whisper,” hand-built ceramic, 6.75 x 4 x 5 inches

“Cayman Crush,” hand-built ceramic, 6.5 x 8.25 x 6.5 inches

“Cayman Crush,” hand-built ceramic, 6.5 x 8.25 x 6.5 inches

“Blushing,” hand-built ceramic, 3.25 x 5 x 2.5 inches

 

 



Art

Figures Experience Constraint and Confinement in Bronze Sculptures by Khaled DAWWA

April 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Sans titre” (2020), bronze, 35 x 14 x 13 centimeters. All images © Khaled DAWWA, shared with permission

Whether folded into a box, bound by cords, or fragmented and stacked, the nondescript figures that Paris-based artist Khaled DAWWA sculpts experience some form of confinement. Their bodies are contorted into cages or squeezed into each other’s arms, and each looks down or away, a position that makes them appear to lack the power and agency to be free. Cast in dense blocks, the introspective sculptures reflect the artist’s preference for terracotta and bronze. “All that we received from the old history is by these two materials,” he says.

Most of the pieces shown here are part of the Compressed series, which were born out of the artist’s own experiences. He tells Colossal:

This project was inspired by my having lived in different places during a short period: detention and compulsory military service in Damascus for four months, then Lebanon for one year and finally arriving to France. Upon arrival in France, at first, I felt liberated from it all. Then I realized that the French live their lives in a complex system that turns them into “compressed people” and that we had this in common. This is the first series in which I look at people beyond Syria.

If you’re in Paris, you can see Khaled DAWWA’s artwork at numerous spots around the city: his piece titled “Les Passants” will be installed in a public spot in Clamart in May 2021, and he’s also participating in Beautify Paris in June of this year. Currently, he is part of Répare, Reprise at the International City of Arts, a group show that’s up through July 10, and is in the process of making a film about the artworks on display. Explore more of the artist’s compacted sculptures on Instagram.

 

“Compressé” (2016), bronze, 13 x 11 x 8 centimeters

“Liberté” (2019), terracotta, 35 x 16 x 13 centimeters

“Siége” (2019), bronze, 35 x 14 x 13 centimeters

Left: “Les mille et une nuit” (2016), terracotta and wood, 20 x 30 centimeters. Right: “Et nous resterons amis pour toujours …,” bronze, 110 x 59 x 36 centimeters

“Une cellule individuelle” (2016), terracotta and wood, 15 x 15 x 5 centimeters

 

 



Art

Faces and Fingers Glazed in Celadon Emerge from Surreal Vessels by Canopic Studio

March 22, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Canopic Studio, shared with permission

Disembodied faces and fingers encircle the surreal vessels created by Canopic Studio, a Los Angeles-based practice helmed by Claire and Curran Wedner. Known for their ceramics that display human anatomy in a repetitious pattern, the husband and wife recently diverged from the black-and-white works previously mentioned on Colossal to create a series entirely in celadon, a jade color with a rich history.

The translucent glaze originated in China and was prominent throughout the country for centuries before being replaced by blue-and-white porcelain. It’s traditionally made with a bit of iron oxide—too little creates a blue color, while too much produces a darker olive or black—and then fired in a reducing kiln at a high temperature.

Curran says he first experimented with the glaze in 2004 as part of a ceramics class and returned to it now after researching cone 10 gas firing and reduction, or the process of decreasing oxygen in the kiln. The resulting pieces shift in color with the light, a trait that dovetails with the studio’s interest in mutable identities and idiosyncrasies that shows up in the shape of their works.

Pieces are created using the same mold to produce similar, but not identical, body parts. When attached in rows on the mug or bowl, the single face or finger becomes one of many, each defined by its slight difference. “I’m interested in identity and how it shifts when we go from being alone to being a part of a crowd,” Curran says. He explains:

I like prodding that space in between, where identity feels almost pliable or molten, then hardens, then shifts again, and so on. When the face I’m using is pulled from a single mold, it has a surreal quality—so identical it’s almost eerie, and all the tiny flaws and differences come forward when they otherwise wouldn’t.

Right now, Canopic Studio is in the process of creating a line of face medallions finished with 22 karat gold. The duo list new pieces bi-monthly on Etsy, and you can keep an eye out for shop updates and see works-in-progress on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Surreal Sculptures of Translucent Glass and Clay Explore the Body's Transformative Processes

December 8, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Mother and Child” (2020), cast glass, ceramic, and oil paints, 18 x 27 x 7 inches. All images © Christina Bothwell, shared with permission

“I have always viewed the body as a transitory object,” writes artist Christina Bothwell. From human-animal hybrids to pregnant creatures to figures fused together, Bothwell’s oeuvre suspends various life forms in states of flux: a baby precariously rests on a mother’s back, a young girl grasps onto another’s legs, and others peer into the distance as if they’re about to move forward.

The artist’s subject matter is rooted in the ethereal and embodies the delicate ways spirits and physical figures change over time. Her process, however, mirrors that focus on transformation. From her studio in rural Pennsylvania, Bothwell begins each multi-media piece with a sketch before translating the head into a clay form. To create the weathered appearance, she utilizes pit firing, which involves covering the sculpture with hay or leaves and burning them. The smoke from the fire leaves behind a carbon residue on the clay.

When working with glass, Bothwell sculpts warm beeswax that she uses to cast a plaster-and-silica mold. She then fills the empty shape with chunks of colored glass, which are placed in a kiln for annealing, cooled in cold water, and finally sanded and chiseled down. Hand-painted details adorn the sculpture’s exterior, along with found objects like antique prosthetic eyes, deer antlers, and ball feet.

 

“Soul Sentinel” (2017), cast glass, ceramic, oil paint, and antique wood doll puppet hands, 21 inches

The result of this months-long technique is a surreal collection that merges the organic forms and processes of nature with uncanny details. Each lusterless piece explores the relationship between the alluring oddities of the exterior and the translucent insides, which Bothwell explains:

Changing the body is merely adjusting the outer wrapping, as far as I can see… I am intrigued with the spirit world, and I imagine that we pass in and out of it, into the physical realm with bodies, then out of it at the end of life into lighter, energy bodies… And along the way throughout our lives, we transform ourselves constantly, reinventing who we are on a daily basis.

Bothwell will be featured in an upcoming episode of PBS’s Craft in America airing on December 11. Until then, follow her unearthly projects on Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

“Octopus Girl,” cast glass and ceramic, 33 inches

“Pink Monkey” (2020), cast glass and ceramic, 15 inches

“Butterfly Poodle” (2015-2019), cast glass, ceramic, oil paint, and antique claw ball feet

Left: “Strawberry Gardens” (2020), cast glass, ceramic, and oil paint, 22 inches

Top right: “Deer Bunny,” cast glass, ceramic, oil paint, and deer antlers, 27 inches. Bottom left: “My Second Self” (2013), cast glass, ceramic, and found objects (antique doll hands). Bottom right: “Mermaid” (2009), cast glass and antique prosthetic glass eye

“Such Reveries” (2017), cast glass, ceramic, and antique claw ball feet, 22 inches