Forces of Nature: Gala Centerpieces

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Recently we, the students of the Applied Craft + Design MFA program, were asked to design and produce centerpieces for the annual Gala fundraiser for the Pacific Northwest College of Art (my MFA program is a collaborative effort between PNCA and the Oregon College of Art and Craft).  The request came a month or so into spring semester and seemed reasonable enough: to produce 10 or so centerpieces valued at $100 each, no bigger than 1 cubic foot in volume.  As a potter, this seemed to be a piece of cake, and last semester I had produced a series of vessels quite appropriate for this event, which had an industrial/marine theme.  The pieces would be for sale, with 50% of the proceeds coming back to the artists.  I didn’t even blink before I said “yes, I’m in!”

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In reality, it was not a piece of cake, as my production schedule became crammed into one week, along with another custom project.  In the end I was asked to make 13 centerpieces, and together with the 13 salad bowls for the second project I threw 200+ pounds of clay in a matter of days.  I was amazed to emerge from the studio unscathed and finished ahead of schedule!  How about that!  Really, what this experience showed me is that I am actually capable of so much more. And so the bar rises…

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Make sure to click on each image to get a better, more close-up view of the dynamic activity in the surfaces of these pieces.  Each was thrown as a thick, slightly bellied-out cylinder, then coated with layers of underglazes and slips, from electric blue to white.  Then, each piece (from 9-12 inches tall) was distorted from the interior.  As the clay distended, under layers of color and the porcelain beneath were thinned or revealed, producing even more shades of blue.  Each push of my fingers or thumb inspired the next.  I see each piece as a 3-dimensional painting, where paint and canvas share and swap their traditional roles, and the piece is composed from both sides of the canvas.


 

 

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