Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pillow Vases III: Lace

My Lace Bowls are some of the most popular pieces in my oeuvre. Their evolution started with a piece of lace I picked up at Michael's and used as one of the textures in my Original Sunflower series. The texture was fairly highly relieved and had a rich, tapestried quality.

I liked the results so much, it became one of the textures I selected for my Fancy Sunflower series, for which I employed some of the more highly-relieved surfaces I had used for my Original Sunflowers - important because I was going to glaze the centers and the designs needed to handle two to three glaze coats.

At about the same time, I was exploring textures with some bowl forms; many of the glazes in my palette are reactive glazes that break to different colors over deeply-relieved textures - I had noticed this characteristic on the test tiles I had made and on the glazed sunflowers I was producing. I started playing around with the idea of lace-textured bowls, buttons and wall art - a product line that has become quite successful and continues to evolve; I'm now experimenting with larger platter-type centerpieces using vintage and contemporary lace.

Once I started working on the Pillow Vase concept, it seemed obvious to use the lace texture again, as it had been so successful in other genres. The challenge here was that, rather than using the lace for the inside of the bowls, I was using it for the outside. Whereas I had easily turned out bowl after bowl using the same piece of lace - rolling out the slab, rolling in the lace, forming the lace slab into the bowl and peeling the lace away, then starting on another piece, I had to invert the process so the lace side of the slab went into the bowl first.

After much trial and error, I've developed a reliable process for these pieces, forming the slab bowl into the mold and roughly trimming, then setting to dry until the lace-covered clay releases. I peel the lace away, place the (still-plastic) clay back in the mold and, gently yet firmly, form it into the mold, especially at the lip, trim and score. I don't cut any holes until after I've removed the pieces from the mold. I select the half for which the lace design's center most closely conforms to the center of the bowl form and use that as the orientation for the finished vase's opening.

The pieces are slipped and joined; the join looks like a natural part of the design, forming a resolved part of the lace motif.

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