"Multi-Flower Vase," by Margaret Bohls, was hand built with press molded slabs.

"Multi-Flower Vase," by Margaret Bohls, was hand built with press molded slabs.

The people have spoken. The votes are in. We have a Ceramic Arts Daily People’s Choice Emerging Artist. And the winner is Jeremy Brooks! Congratulations Jeremy and thanks to everyone who voted! To see Jeremy’s work and the work of the other Emerging Artists, click here. As the winner, Jeremy will receive a complimentary listing in the Ceramic Arts Daily Gallery, and a one-year subscription to Ceramics Monthly.


In addition to extending the emerging artist fun, this contest was a great way to for me to find out more about you, the Ceramic Arts Daily readers. What I learned was very interesting. Your tastes are diverse. Your votes were fairly evenly spread out across the entire field of entrants and were not heavily weighted in one direction or another. You did not seem to overwhelmingly favor pottery over ceramic sculpture or vice versa. What this reinforces to me is that you have an appreciation of the incredibly diverse medium of ceramic art.

Today, we bring you the work of Margaret Bohls who stretches the limits of porcelain to explore the ideas of expansion and restraint. Margaret’s vessels have the appearance of soft, cushy upholstery. They seem like they are being inflated from within. She achieves this effect by painstakingly creating each bulge in her slab building process, which author Glen R. Brown elaborates on below.–Jennifer Harnetty, editor




Their thin walls straining against a fixed grid, expanding through its immobile mesh and separating into orderly fields of convex planes, the porcelain vessels of Margaret Bohls resemble balloons inflated within cages. The impression of conflicting elasticity and rigidity provides the tension that every visually appealing object must convey on some level through some aspect of its form.


This bulging pattern, which imparts to her vessels the appearance of overstuffed furniture, precious cargo protected in layers of neatly tied insulation, or an infant’s squeezable vinyl versions of domestic objects, is created during the handbuilding process, partly through the use of plaster molds. These are not, however, as complex as one might suppose. In order to achieve the convincing quality of expansion in the final forms, Bohls presses slabs onto flat molds incised only with simple grids. Removing the slabs, she pushes out the rows of protrusions one-by-one with her fingers. The slabs can then be cut to the desired shape and joined to form the vessel body. Handles, knobs and spouts may be appended to enhance the potential for use. The resulting vessels are often designed to sit on trays or within baskets that echo the grid through the geometry of their open structures of extruded earthenware coils.


For more inspiring slab building ideas, be sure to check out Throwing and Handbuilding: Forming Techniques in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore.


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