First order of business:
Throwing the form. Each of my forms are wheelthrown in Porcelain.
The vases that I choose for further adornment reference the shapes
seen in the Arts and Crafts movement. When the pot is leatherhard,
it is trimmed, and then wrapped in plastic to dry a bit more.
Act 2, prepping and carving:
After the pot has dried further, I scrape and sand the surface to create a smooth carving arena. I first set the "Architecture" onto the piece. The architecture is the Nouveau style webbing seen on most of my vessels. I decide whether the piece should be divided into three, four, or more panels, and where the top and bottom cap lines lie in reference to the curves of the form. After a bit of light sketching, I'll begin cutting. Each cut line leads to the next, and the designs are created with a similar stream of consciousness as Zen artists approach ink paintings. I pull from a library of images within, gained by many hours of study in architecture and the arts and crafts movement.
After the architecture has been cut, it is time to choose the subject manner of the vase. If the architecture is geometric, I try to choose a subject with a round line (jellyfish, dogwood blossoms...) When round elements dominate the architecture, I'll choose a rigid form (dragonflies, bony fish.....). I choose my images based on what I'm feeling inspired by and what works well on the form that I have. Then the images are carved, using the labor intensive deduction method. In this method I cut back into the form, leaving behind layers of raised areas creating depth. This sort of carving was used in the finest hieroglyphics for royal tombs in Egypt. I primarily use some very simple small knives that I crafted for this task!
When the piece is dried, it is bisque fired.
The third and final step:
Each piece is glazed in the colors that it seems to need. As of late, I have been favoring matte glazes, as they add to the Art Nouveau feeling of the works. The majority of my pots have several glazes applied to each. I will lay a dark color into the carvings, and then layer translucent glazes on top. Often, I use wax to protect some areas from one color or another. I dip, paint, and spray on my glazes. The majority of my pieces are fired in oxidation.
You can see what I'm making daily in the studio by clicking here and following my tumblr blog