Sunday, August 12, 2007

Martina Round Two

I aim to contain in my pots the softness and subtle irregularity that serve to emphasize the handmade object in today’s machine made world.
I’m searching for forms, decoration and glazes that maintain the dynamic crispness that I love while instilling the vitality of the touch of the maker.

In this spirit, I have begun to explore looser thrown forms, less defined decoration and satin glazes to invite the touch. I am learning it is contrary to my nature to allow glazes to run, lines to blur and edges to wobble. It takes me greater concentration to bring an irregular pot into being than a tight one. In my current work I’m enjoying the tension between some of the crisp rims and bases of the pots and the development of the surface.

As I delve deeper into the overlapping of slip and glaze decoration in various colors and surfaces, my ideas continue to evolve. The brightness of opaque green against the shimmer of transparent amber and what they both do differently over a colored slip allows the mind to wander. They evoke the boundary between field and path, or sky and skyline.

Function remains central to my work. I continue to strengthen my forms by consciously repeating elements throughout foot, handle and rim. By creating a piece that is both unique and useful, I hope to remind people of the value and inherent qualities of human touch.


critial ceramics said...

Martina --
Hi from california....I hope your travels are going well.

My comments might seem similar to things I told you in Baltimore, but I will repeat them for the benefit of others and to perhaps reach greater insight.

General overview: wildly ecstatic about your forms, especially the mugs; lukewarm about the current state of your decorations. Your cups and mug forms in this series are definitely the strongest to me; I like some aspects of the bowls, but they have a quite different feeling.

The mugs: I like the looseness; they give me the feeling of taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. Favorites are image #5 and 9. I really like the way the throwing lines can be seen through the glaze, and the lilt in the rim. The decoration in some cases detracts from the forms; I would prefer a calmer decoration on these forms. To me they are so strong that they don't need much else. I would be interested in seeing the decoration you are using on a smoother surface or simpler form. The slip that is applied with newspaper is interesting to me -- what if it was next to a really white area, like you used to have on your old pots? This may all just be my own personal aesthetics speaking here...but I'd be inclined to put that surface next to something contrasting.

The cups sets on the donuts: I like them but to me they are a rough draft of something that could be great. The cups aren't entirely related to the stand and are a bit hectic. Maybe you could think about some ways to relate the cups to the stands more? Descending stripes, or a crossover of dots? I also have the overwhelming urge to poke at those perfect little circles -- make them square or a little less tidy. That goes for the bowls too.

Bowls: How could you bring more of the feeling of the mugs to these bowls? They do not feel relaxed to me; they are stiffer and more controlled. The decoration on the bottom one is strikingly different than everyone else; where are you going with this? The rings seem more like stands to me than feet.

Artist statement: I'm very intrigued by the line about the boundary between path and field etc. These are subtle boundaries that you are describing, and in many ways indicate a direction that I think would be great to go in.

Your first lines confuse me as to whether you are seeking out softness or crispness.

All in all -- I think it is exciting and I can't wait to see what's next! I'll be thinking of you -

mel said...

hey there martina,

i hope grad school life is as wonderful as you hoped it would be, and that you're settling in well. you're living the dream! :)

this work is looking great! i may have a different perspective from megan, as i've never really seen your previous work. you talk about how its harder for you to throw a loose pot than a tight one, and it makes me wonder what those tighter pots look like. i think you are getting a great wobble in this body of work, and simply would like to know what a pot looks like that was more "natural" for you to make. i think it would be really cool if you could somehow put those 2 things together and create tension that way... maybe loose forms with a more defined decoration? that brings me to your line about the tension between the crisp rims and feet and the development of surface. in the first bowl, i'm not sure its working. to me, it almost feels like the painting is in a cage. as you know, this is something i think about in my own work too, and don't really have a great solution yet. however, i think it works really well on the cup at the bottom.

what is "dynamic crispness?" i'm not sure what you mean there, but think that a good definition could be very enlightening.

my favorite pot is #4, one of the mugs. like megan, i really dig the mug forms, and also think they are the strongest in decoration. there is more depth there than there is on the others. on the cups in the stands, the brushmarks seem more one-dimensional to me, and don't totally relate to the stand. i'd like to see where that idea goes, though, as i once made something with a similar pillow-nest-stand. i like the idea a lot, and think it could be developed further. the big feet, on the other hand, aren't really working for me. they look like stands, and feel just really heavy to me. of course i don't know what it feels like to actually hold them, but i do think they would make better stands than feet. or maybe they should just be smaller?

it seems like this round really moved forward from your last one. i can't wait to see where being in such an enriching environment will take you!

critial ceramics said...

hey all, martina from halifax here.

so i thought i should maybe write a few words about process. in mel's comments she referred to brush strokes in the paired cups.

So i start with the colored slip brushed onto torn paper which is then applied, monoprint style to the pot. the paper is left in place while i brush or dip the white slip. then terra sig is applied at the bone dry phase and the pieces are bisqued.

the dots are colored glazes applied using a brush and stencil, or sponge and then waxed over for the most part. then the main colored glaze is dipped or poured over. the two large bowls are slightly different in that the decoration was all applied at the glazing stage.

the green one had the decotation waxed over, while the yellow one had the glaze over the brushed decoration.

the feet and 'nests' for the cup are hollow do-nut forms, so not physically heavy. i appreciate the visual concern though. i'm still working it out.

thanks for the comments so far...

Kip said...

Hello from Seattle! Sorry for the late posting... I'm going to post first, then read the older comments and post again.

First off, great work, Martina, on getting this all up before taking off for Halifax. That must have been a feat of careful planning. Your images look great as usual, but I do feel like the bowl exteriors gets a little lost in the shadow of the rim - maybe another light source from the side could help with that? Tilting the bowl like you did in one of the images is certainly a solution...

I am really loving the shapes you have going these days -- the fat rims and feet are so inviting visually. I want to just grab hold and cradle the base in my hands (which I do with the cup I just got from you -- I adore that mug!). It certainly seems that you are utilizing the raw clay (well, the terra sig, I guess) in a way that invites touch and celebrates the qualities of low fire clay.

I also like how sturdy and balanced the bubble feet make these pots look visually (and in reality). That certainly has me thinking about the narrow base of my tumblers and how that may deter regular use. With your feet, you get a sense of durability without the added weight of a thicker base - I think it's a great solution for a functional pot. Have you done any pots where you alter the donut feet? I like the way you sometimes vary the rim on your bowls -- perhaps that could translate into the foot as well?

In terms of decoration, I am most interested by the pieces where the clay really shows through the slip - the white in particular does that for me. I think with the clay peeking through, you have a stronger connection between the glazed and the unglazed areas, which is important with those large areas that are raw. I would love to know more about how the dots evolved into your decoration and the purpose they serve for you. In terms of your artist statement and your decoration, I like the part about the boundary between field and path -- I could see how the stripes of color create that sense of landscape.

Would you say that a lot of your imagery is coming from nature these days? You address the looseness of your work with the "touch of the maker" idea, but I'd love some more specific examples of how you settled into this particular style you've evolved -- there are lots of ways to be loose and show things are handmade -- why this particular solution?

It was lovely to pick up and touch these pots last month. For me, there was a strong sense of age in your decoration, like they had been weathered and worn over many years. I think the way you're using the paper resist to get variation in your surface adds to that sense of old layers of peeling paint feel.

I hope all is going well in your new home, I can't wait to see what this year brings for you and your work!

More soon... Kip

Kip said...

Hmmm, interesting to read the different takes on the bubble feet. The thought of using them as a separate stand is very intriguing -- have you ever tried anything like that? I'm not immediately sure what kind of foot would work well on the bowls if the bubble ring became a stand, but I would love to see how it changes the pot...