1) Please describe your work as it relates to overall form (do handles and/or spout relate to body proportions), are parts pleasing to the eye, feel comfortable in the hand, the choice of process as part of the uniqueness of the finished piece and surface treatments such as choice of glazes.
Every form in “Everyday Ungulates” is chosen after may test sets exploring various dimensions, proportions, colors, patterns and motifs. Every final choice is informed by these explorations and made to yield a functional vessel pleasing to the hand, lip and eye and more. The lips of my vessels thin and angle slightly inward creating a voluptuous curve for the lip and hand and provide easy stacking of wares for storage. Handles are spacious and seemingly flow out of mugs so that a continuity in line is observed creating a harmonized form and provide comfort for the user. Feet on all forms are distinguished in various ways from the main body of a vessel, this gives the eye a visual break and defines the vessel. There is always a surprise on the underside of my forms so that when loaded into a dishwasher or left to dry on a rack the user is give a special treat. Likewise when sipping coffee or the like any spectator is shown the bottom of a cup and can delight in the detailing there. In the same way all drinking and pouring vessels include a generous swirl in the bottom that is revealed only upon completing a beverage and adds to the further tactile pleasure of washing dishes by hand. All forms are further designed so that one can reach inside and wash, nothing being more frustrating than not being about to reach inside a vessel to clean. I say every vessel provides “more” than just function and esthetic appeal because each vessel embodies specific tastes and informs a specific lifestyle users can sense and appreciate.
2) Please describe your reasons for selecting your approach and stages of production for the work submitted. Discuss whether the objects submitted are considered functional, non-functional or sculptural and how these lead to your choice of fabrication techniques and materials.
Every step in production is a means to the end vessel. Materials chosen dictate how one proceeds to create the desired piece. When I say “every step” I mean to convey that every minute action done affects the outcome. Minute as in sponging the bottom of pot from left to right or right to left, how many times a pot is actually touched, what temperature the tools you use are. Of course not every single gesture is heavily monitored but every single one influences a piece. The ceramic process is a fickle thing, it is the sensitivity of our materials and subsequently processes that create such a wide range of ceramic wares. The water content, temperature and age of clay (clay options ranging greatly in material make up) all dictate what then the potter can do on the wheel. My forms are thrown with well worked and “plastic” stretchy clays so that the freshness and fluidity of throwing is present in the hardened vitrified final form. Vessels are not touched once thrown until leather hard when handles are pulled directly off the pot to further evoke a fluid freshness in the end. Handles are thickest where attached to the pot and so are strong physically and visually. Many pots are dipped in slip, one or more times, after all attachments are made. This creates depth and devision for the eye and further layers of imagery. It also physically enforces a voluptuous countenance. My finger marks, made in dipping, are left to reminded the user of the connection to humanity that all handcrafted items embody and also as a homage to ancient slipwares where one can feel and see the mark of the anonymous maker. Later these dip marks are mimicked with off set glaze marks, creating even more depth for the eye and subtle texture for the hand. The kind of slip chosen has be formulated to fit and marry my clay bodes in firing, the viscosity of slip is just so that a blush of the original clay body is present throughout and varies in color on rim and base, once again adding to a subtle depth. The glaze likewise has been chosen to withstand the heavy abuse of daily use and fit well with slip and clay. The glaze it specifically configured though endless testing to play dynamically where transfers are used. The glaze absorbs the image’s iron oxide differently when applied in varying thickness and depends on heat soaking within my firing schedule and also on position in my very large kiln. The process of transfer application is derived from years of experimenting to get images just so. Pattern and colors are a forever evolving presence in this product line. It is my great pleasure to discover how form and image inform each other and our overall experience of a vessel. The nuances that specific processes yield are best discovered through repeated use and contemplation. It is my hope that all my small actions in making through time evoke small discoveries made by the user, hence all the visual and tactical layers on each pot. It is not necessarily an outright literal and cognitive revelation I seek for the user but something physically and subtly appreciated through time.
3) Please explain your choice of materials and how they are appropriate to the intent of the pieces, both in purpose and visual appearance.
All the materials I have come to use are chosen simply because they are what work and what is available in all practicality to the North American potter. After years of developing this Everyday Ungulates I have experimented and tested various clays, glazes, pigments, kilns and tools. From mixing and matching and altering I have come to use the present day materials to make these present day pots. As a scientist I am always seeking better compounds and processes to liberate the my artist self. Potters are of course both Artists and Scientists. The intriguing technical processes of chemical mixing and calculation and exposing mixtures to different environments and temperatures overtime is undeniably Science. The problem solving in design, process and intuition is Art. The two married together in making is what makes Craft. And so by this dichotomy it how my materials are chosen. I use three various plastic fine throwing clays all to yield slightly different texture and color, one standardized slip modified for color variation and three clear glazes for various functions. With the constant progression that is an Artist’s prerogative and quest of a conscious maker my materials will continue to change. I am forever trying to source and acquiesce more common materials mined closer to home and acquired by minimally invasive means. The Science and Artist and Maker will continue to battle is out for esthetic’s sake.
4) Please indicate whether the designs are original or significant adaptations of traditional or commercially available designs. Works that are reproductions of traditional designs are permitted with the understanding that a much higher emphasis will be placed on the technical execution of these works.
All forms and slip motifs are of my own creation derived from a lifetime of observation and experimentation. I recognize and consider traditional thrown functional wares to an homage to all those of the past- a mug is a mug, handle and floor and lip not withstanding and so draws on eons of functional ceramic heritage. I feel this is the great strength of ceramics and so appreciate the similarities of archetypal form and decoration that has crept through the ages and is referenced on my wares. The pots in “Everyday Ungulates” with ungulates on them have been specifically selected for old Alberta Forestry educational pamphlets. Ungulates in many ways are a symbol of the Canadian wilderness- that which I inhabit when working for Alberta Forestry five months of the year. The Canadian Wilderness is used to define every Canadian as so it is this connection to animal and land I am referencing in conjunction with these vessel. It is a subtle reminder of our connection to food and culture with every meal we eat.
5) Understanding that you may not be familiar with all the artists currently represented in the Gallery of BC Ceramics, please indicate how you feel your work will be a beneficial addition to the Galley with an emphasis on differences from others currently in the Gallery, diversity of product within the range submitted and ability to maintain sufficient supply.
My pots are the apex of all my past experiences and in so uniquely mine. Every decision made and resulting tweak is thought out- the messy edge left, the finger smudge, the blatant brush stroke. In this mark of the maker alone my individual human experience is imprinted on the pot and as thought out and accepting I am of these eccentricities much more of my personality is intrinsically projected by the pots.