Hambidge Residency, 2013
During a four-week residency at the Hambidge Center in northern Georgia, located in a temperate rainforest, I recognized a familiar theme I had been working with in the temperate rainforest which surrounded me- natural elements enveloping three- dimensional structures both man made and native to the environment. Like the sea creatures which made their way onto every object close to shore in my hometown next to the sea, Moss, fungi, lichen, and mold prevailed in the perpetually humid environment of the Black Forest making homes in the cracks of the stone steps leading up to my studio, on the sides of every tree, and even the suitcases and books I had brought with me. I strayed from the underwater sea life that has dominated my work for the past few years and chose to explore this theme through wares inspired by the mid century aesthetics of the 20th century and arts and crafts movement (both heavily inspired by natural environments) and in sculpted depictions of the moss and fungi surrounding me. The Mushroom Pitcher is an example of my preliminary explorations in this body of work. The interior of the pitcher is glazed but I’ve chosen to keep the surface of the pieces unglazed as a reflection of the quiet stillness of the forest I temporarily inhabited. The unglazed surface also leaves the material somewhat porous and I’m hoping some mold might grow on it.
In addition to creating this work I explored my material further and toyed with new techniques inspired by my surroundings: slip casting moss and fungi, and developing a way to cast fine objects such as insects. This was achieved by dusting clay particles over the items to capture intricate details, a process for which I have not found a precedent, but which with I have found some degree of success. Like any studio potter I was constantly referring to textbooks and online forums for advice with glaze making, kiln firings, slip casting, history, etc. I delved into the resources available on iTunesU, YouTube, and Wikipedia, and consulted with chemist and material scientist friends to get the results I wanted. With its deep roots in ceramic industry, England was a constant presence during this quest for knowledge. The experiment results in the “Hambidge Tests” slide are reflective of the exploration of my material, porcelain, and interdisciplinary education that I would like to continue while attending the Royal College of Art in London, England.