Lindsay Rogers was an established potter and resident at The Energy Exchange before returning to graduate school at University of Florida Ceramics. Tapped by Crimson Laurel Gallery, NC, to curate their fall cup show, Lindsay chose the subject of water, and invited a number of artists with diverse approaches to consider the topic and send works for the show, which will feature over 300 cups. Each artist is sending 5 cups.
There is a saying: if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail. Yep. The challenge of “water” flummoxed me for a bit. Water? Water? I don’t “do” water. But that’s the whole point: to be pushed out of my comfortable studio orbit in collision with an outside idea. It was a perplexing, but refreshing challenge that let me open some new windows.
In 2004 and 2008 I visited Jingdezhen, China, and was amazed by the clay activity there. Among other wonders (like HUGE porcelain vases, platters and tiles) there are shops that print and sell ceramic underglaze and overglaze decals. Since I couldn’t fit inexpensive kiln shelves, handmade bent bamboo chairs, or the large size Tang dynasty horse reproduction in my suitcase, I settled for coming home with lovely small horse and a roll of decal pages. (These are now available in the U.S. – one vendor is Chinese Clay Art .) One of the pages I brought back is a graphic image of a pink lotus with a green center – a water flower. From there, I looked at symbols for water, and thought about a drop-shaped cup form and a handle that was wavy. Once the cups were made, bisqued, glazed, decorated, fired, and decaled, it seemed some of them needed some bling, so I used a gold luster pen and added some touches. If you haven’t tried one of these, they’re like using a felt-tipped pen. Ferro’s pen is called Goldrush. So easy, so much control compared to a brush. Way too much fun for something expensive. Uncap. Draw on clean surface. The lines are varnish-brown looking. Fire to 017 = bright gold luster. Very easy to do line work, dots, text.
I shipped my cups this week for Source Materials: an Exhibition on Water and the Ceramic Cup, which will be up at Crimson Laurel in Bakersville, NC, Nov. 3rd – Dec. 31st. See the show link for a list of artists. I appreciated Lindsay’s humbling challenge, and it has me thinking of how to look farther afield in my studio. The Clean Creek iron experiments earlier this summer were a great start. This was the icing on the cake. Being uncomfortable and clueless is a starting place, an opportunity.