Washington ceramist Anne Hirondelle works in a 10×14 foot studio efficiently equipped with an electric wheel, extruder, worktables, storage shelves and a wood stove. With a career that moved from production stoneware to raku-fired clay drawings to acrylic constructions, she has returned to making vessel-oriented stoneware.
Folk pottery is still being made all over the world. But because its spontaneity is often confused for crudeness, its function challenged by plastic, stainless and enameled ware, it’s slowly dying everywhere – from industrialized countries like Japan to Third World nations like Nigeria. Folk pottery (such as this bean pot, 8 inches in diameter, thrown from local earthenware, charcoal fired unglazed, by W. Hardin, Chalky Mountain, St. Andrew’s Parish, Barbados) is so closely tied to its social context as to be incomplete standing alone in some museum, or even on a magazine cover. This month we look intimately at one context of folk pottery (in Japan) with anthropologist Brian Moeran.
“Green Umbra,” approximately 4 feet in height, handbuilt low-fire buff clay, fired and painted with acrylics, by Beverly Mayeri.
Even from a distance you can smell the aroma of wood smoke as tall flames rise quietly from the flue of the 56-foot-long anagama (a Japanese-style tube kiln) at Peters Valley, a crafts community occupying land leased from the National Park Service. After the flame recedes, another load of split oak will be stoked. The cycles of stoking and waiting continued throughout the nearly five-day period in this kin’s first firing to be led by westerners.
“Personage 10,” handbuilt porcelain, 11.5 inches in height, by Gerda Gruber.
Wheel-thrown stoneware pitcher, 11 inches in height, with dipped and sprayed glazes, single fired to Cone 10 in a reducing atmosphere, by Steven Hill.
Detail of “Bad Manners,” a life-size installation sculpture by ceramist Marilyn Lysohir. Handbuilt food and flowers, thrown plates, cups, saucers and candlesticks were underglazed, clear glazed and fired to Cone 04 in an electric kiln. Figures were slab built, coated with colored terra sigillata, burnished and fired to Cone 04 in a gas kiln; chairs and table substructure are made of wood.
Sandy Simon in her California studio. Working with a Grolleg-based porcelain, this Midwest-trained potter decorates thrown, altered forms with brightly colored slips and stain-colored frit/clay “rocks.”
“Obsidian,” porcelain teapot, 13 inches in height, handbuilt from paper-thin slabs, fired to Cone 10 in a charcoal-filled saggar, by Phil Cornelius.
Canadian ceramist David Taylor in his Dayspring, Nova Scotia, studio. Initially trained as a painter, he still acknowledges that connection in his clay work, utilizing a palette of slips and glazes to build depth and color on surfaces.