With the sad news of the flooding in Houston, I’m reminded of the wonderful Texas patrons we have. Though we’ve never done a show in Houston, we’ve done several shows in Austin and the Dallas-Fort Worth area several times with my work, Robin’s and our collaborative work. Some of my most loyal patrons are from Austin, Richardson and the Fort Worth area.
Just this spring at the Northern VA Fine Art Festival in Reston, a couple walked into our booth and with a surprised look on their faces, inquired if we’d done the Fort Worth Art Fair 15 years ago. They recognized my surfaces, and coincidentally we have now returned to the boat shape, something we worked on many years ago. They told us how much they’ve enjoyed the sculpture they purchased then and informed us of their “canoes” voyage from Texas to St. Louis, Mo and then on to Reston, VA.
This is the sculpture they purchased in Texas, and much to our joy, they purchased a little gondola with calla lilies and a copper base on that spring day this year in Reston.
“Serenity” is finished and she turned out beautifully. She’s one of our new cargo vessels. The Cargo Vessel Series carry something symbolic on their deck–a gift, a boon a treasure in the form of a nest or flowers. “Serenity” has a recessed deck carved to simulate gentle ripples on the surface of the water. She has hand-painted clay flowers on a hull of carved basswood with a crackled and painted finish. The open flower has silver wire stamens and the boat rests on a walnut base.
While the symbolism of the water-lily varies from one culture to another, it is interesting to note that the scientific name for them is Nymphaea, from the Greek word for nymph referring to the feminine spirit inhabiting bodies of water. In this sculpture I’ve chosen the water-lily to represent the importance of nature on our journey. For me personally, it is also representative of my teenage daughter, the would-be marine biologist, whose life was lost in the water, during the bloom of the water-lilies.
We are also showing the first two sculptures from a concept by Robin, called “The Life Boat Series”. These boats will all have a box, sometimes hidden in the hull and others carrying it on the deck. The box is for the interment of a loved one’s ashes or mementos of a life. Shown here is “Reflections” which carries a hand-hammered and patinaed copper box with a clay scarab, symbol of eternity. This box may hold a portion of one’s ashes or wedding rings or other mementos.
“Voyager” has a hammered copper clad deck and a large hidden box within the hull. Resting on the lid, is a copper nest, home to a single golden rose, symbol of love. These sculptures and more will be exhibited in our booth Nov 10-13 at the Phil Convention Center, in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Fine Craft Show.
The water-lily boat already has a name–“Serenity”. Robin snapped this photo as I’m refining the arrangement pattern for the 3 flowers and 2 proposed lilypads. The flowers are unfired–the clay I use is gray while wet and fires to a snow-white. Since this photo was taken the hull of the boat has been crackled and awaits the painting process after several days curing and 2 lilypads, shown here are cardboard patterns I’ve made, have been sculpted in clay also.
Amazing what new glasses can do for you! I recently greatly increased the power of my readers and wow, that with a closer light source has made all the difference in the world on the detail and surface work in my clay building. Consequently, I’m discarding most of the flowers I had made and fired before the July Ann Arbor Show. The amount of time required for each flower is three to fourfold what it was, but it is worth it. The ability to see so much more detail has allowed my forms and the surfaces to become more refined. I’ve slowed down and I’m loving every minute of it.
Images here are of two water-lily buds in the drying process. There were many hours in experimenting on how best to form the petals and then how best to construct the flower. I’m pleased with the result, pre-firing. This is the water-lily that will be fully open when finished. After this photo was taken, the outer petals were propped up over night before adding more petals. The addition of the flowers to some of the boats is both an aesthetic and symbolic choice. I’ll have more to say about the symbolism of each flower as I write about each finished boat.These water lilies are designed to go on a sleek wooden boat that Robin has recently finished carving. He decided to gouge carve the bottom of the inset deck, requiring an additional three days to sand it after the carving was finished.
More in the next posts on the chrysanthemums, Robin’s “Life Boat Series” and my “Hanging Boat Series” which will be introduced at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Fine Craft Show this November.
Another August is passing. This one has been very productive in that I’ve designed a two new series of boats, The Hanging Boats and The Flying Boats. I expect to have three Hanging Boats completed to show at The Philadelphia Museum Show in November. One of them is an ode to youth lost too soon. It will hang by silk threads and butterflies. An artist doesn’t escape from their life experience. Our lives get intertwined with our art making and so our art, our personal life and our business is forged together.
Trying out titles for one of the two new boats we will show at the Ann Arbor Original Art Fair in less than two weeks. I’ve had to put aside my clay Earth Goddess work for a while–since it is not a collaborative piece we can’t show it in the shows we’ve juried into this year. A previous blog tells more about her and she is half painted and waiting. In the meantime I’ve been making clay roses to be placed in a long, sleek boat. Here are some drying before firing.
After making 30-some roses, they must be left to dry for a considerable time–I error on the side of caution and left mine for about 3 weeks.
Loaded into the kiln along with some calla lilies and ready for firing at cone 05 (approx. 1885 degrees)
It’s a 48 hour wait for the firing and complete cool down. Opening the kiln before it is cooled completely can cause thermal shock, cracking and spoiling the sculpture. In the meantime, I’ve crackled the boat that Robin carved into which I will arrange these roses after they’re painted. Here’s the boat before I began painting it.
And, now that the roses and boat are painted, the double pedestal made and everything assembled, the finished sculpture is spectacular!
Working in clay has its own mystery and nothing about it is more exhilarating than opening the kiln. The kiln gods have always smiled upon me thus far. Sometimes a ceramist opens the kiln to find that something has blown up from having a trapped air bubble somewhere in the clay, or the sculpture or pottery has been fired while it was still green, a term for describing clay before it has dried out sufficiently. I fired the ‘garden goddess’ this week along with a ceramic boat and a bunch of calla lily flowers I made for some of our wooden boats as well as the centerpiece of her garden which I’m keeping secret for the moment. It was with much anticipation that we opened the kiln this morning to find this:
Success! I’m anxious to begin the finishing of this goddess with acrylic paint, oil glazes and possibly prismacolor to create a reminder of the Earth Mother Goddess, the symbol of The Gaia Theory.