Sunday, July 24, 2011

Deluxe Sunflower - Words

As a member of the Grosse Pointe Art Association (GPAA), I occasionally take the opportunity to submit work for their various exhibits.  I've actually done quite well this year; I don't often submit because pottery seems a stretch for some jurors, but this year I've submitted work for three shows successfully, as well as the Michigan Pottery Show closing soon at the Anton Art Center in Mt. Clemens.

The most recent show for which I submitted work at GPAA was for their "Word Play" exhibit, which closed earlier this month.  I had had an idea for many years of using words and/or images for the center of my sunflowers and had wanted to make the equivalent of a printer's plate with snippets of poetry and graphics of sunflowers.  My friend Tim Hanks (BFA, Wayne State University) suggested getting individual rubber stamps made of the various images/phrases I wanted to include but time got away from me so I downsized (but have not abandoned) that idea.

The solution?  I used my Poetry Stones letter dies and created a slab of clay with the word "sunflower" (all in lower case, 'cause that's all I had!) repeated over and over.  I started with a very large slab of clay, ruled baselines using a yardstick, then stamped the words on the slab.  I had one false start - I realized, due to the ascenders on the "f" and "l", that I had to start from the bottom and work my way up; otherwise, it was too confusing.  To resolve the remaining space above the "f" and "l" in each word, I used my Kemper rosette cutout and used those to fill the gap.

I wanted to do a piece consisting of three sunflowers - Ginormous, Extra Large and Large - for my submission, so I had to stamp a very large area just for the centers.  I know it took me between two and three hours just to prepare the slab for those centers, not including the actual fabrication of the pieces.  (I'm actually kind of glad I don't know how long it took me to do this....)  I then assembled the rest of the three pieces in the usual mode, trying to get enough of the word "sunflower" visible on each center that the concept would be intelligible.

The next challenge was how to glaze them.  I discussed this with Tim and his wife, Barb, and we concurred that glazing them all the same color would make the most sense and we agreed that using iconic sunflower colors would be best.  So, I glazed the centers with Amaco's Potter's Choice Temmoku and the petals with Frosted Melon from the same glaze series.  The three pieces got into the show under the title "What kind of flower is that?"

The same flowers were featured at my garden tour in August as well as my show at Galeria Mariposa in Grosse Pointe Woods. They will now reside at my friend Estela Boudreau's Windrise Retreat Center in Metamora, Michigan.

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