ABOUT: The Bone Series: Urchins are hand built, perforated flanges of very thin, nearly translucent porcelain, if held up to the light the edges will glow. For this ephemeral In The Field installation, I went to one of my favorite beaches near Davenport California at a very low tide to have access to where the urchins live. Read more…
As much as I’d like to say that I’ve been using the last few weeks of this year to be really creative, honestly… I’ve had more days away from clay than with clay. Instead, I’ve been focused on getting our new property in Baja set up and functional for camping on which comes with all kinds of unexpected and fun challenges.
I’ve also been trying to enjoy the time with my husband as his sabbatical year comes to an end. This year was not what any of us expected it to be, but my personal positive take-away is discovering that spending all day, every day with my husband is fantastic. I’m so grateful we made the decision to take this year off- even if it was not what we planned.
So as we approach the holiday season, I hope you also get some time and try to find what might of been a piece of positivity that came out of this last year too. And then we can all just rejoice in January 2021. I’m excited to hit the studio hard next year and crank out lots of new works and hopefully some new exhibitions. See y’all then!
One of the most intriguing spots within our new property in Baja is a small section of arroyo that cuts through a corner of the property. Initially, we were a little reluctant to buy property where we’d have to deal with the occasional moments of insane amounts of water but I have to say that it’s become one of my favorite spots to explore. The plants are different, the sandy soil lends itself to wanting to sit in and enjoy the space and it’s amazing to imagine how and where the water might flow through the space. So I decided that this would be the first spot I’d create an ephemeral art piece. The beauty of this being my own property is that I’m able to leave it installed and see what actually happens to it, I may add to it or it may dissolve on it’s own… time will tell… enjoy…
Since we’ve had a driveway and small camping area cleared on our property, the first thing I did was buy a table and set up my mini-studio under the shade of a Torote tree. It’s been a little bit of a challenge to deal with the intense sun and some wind but I’ve figured out a system that seems to be working. I’m continuing to work on my smaller Bone Series Medusa and Urchin forms while I’m here and will be able to fire them in a friends kiln before I make the journey north again. I’m hoping to have a large batch of these to show and get up in the online shop next year.
In the meantime, I’m definitely finding inspiration here in the desert and the beaches. I’ve been finding and collecting all sorts of bits of bone and wood that inspire but my latest prize possession is this pelican skull below. The center photo is a close up of the fibrous structure of the beak connecting to the skull, I love how fragile and also how strong it is. I also love how translucent the bone is, so reminiscent of working in thin pieces of porcelain.
I’m spending the remainder of the year at our property in southern Baja, and it’s so easy to get inspired here. I’ll be setting up a little mobile studio to get some new work built and connecting with some local artists to borrow some kiln time getting things fired. I’ll be sure to share the process but in the meantime, here’s what I’ve been looking at for inspiration these days. I post a lot of these images on my Instagram feed, if you want to follow me over there too.
While the paperwork on our property purchase is making it’s way through the system, we’ve been keeping busy at Taller de Terreno creating fires in the desert. The big multi-fuel kiln was fired up last weekend and it was fun to be a supporter during the 15+ hour process of firing it. It took a few days to cool and then we were able to unload it while ooohing and ahhhing at the results.
I was lucky enough to get a few of my pieces into the kiln too. Three large-ish rocks from my Rock Candy Series and two Umbel Series flowers were included. Unfortunately, the rocks got some big stress cracks in them, but the surfaces came out really interesting because of the addition of salt and soda ash to the kiln towards the end of the firing. The Umbel flowers came out fine and it was interesting to see how some of my typical glazes changed in this type of firing. There were a ton of beautiful pots that came out and as always there are some that were destined for the shard pile too. Ceramics is always a lesson in experimentation but this type of kiln firing only adds to the level of chance.
Once the kiln was unloaded, the three potters Christa Assad, Steve Jacobi and Fernanda Cov started to get all of their pots cleaned up, priced and organized for display for an art party sale at the studio. For us it was a great opportunity to meet (socially distanced of course!) a lot of the locals and learn a little more about the community here in Todos Santos. Everyone was really welcoming and it’s been fun to start to view this amazing little pueblo from the locals perspective instead of the tourists.
While the summer is obviously not the ideal time to be camping out in the desert, we definitely can’t complain about the sunsets, long stretches of empty beaches and the night skies.
Crossing international borders is pretty much off limits right now, but despite that, we are currently in Mexico. “Why?” You might ask…
Well, about 18 months ago we started the process of purchasing property in Baja Sur and the realtors were ready to close just as Covid hit. We delayed crossing the border since so much was unknown then, but now four months later with masks, hand sanitizer at the ready and things starting to reopen in both California and Baja we felt we could safely cross and travel down in our van to complete our business.
The bonus to this trip is that our new property is adjacent to Taller de Terreno, a ceramic center and architectural wonderland based just north of Todos Santos. We are camped out there with clay friends, enjoying ocean views and desert life while we process our property sale. We arrived just in time for me to put a few sculptures into their multi-fuel kiln firing. Five of us took over 15 hours to haul the work up to the kiln site, wad all the pieces, and load the kiln. When the final brick on the door was placed at 2 am, we were mentally and physically done. I haven’t been a part of a big atmospheric kiln firing since I was in school 20+ years ago, so it was super fun to relearn all the tricks and techniques. Can’t wait to see the results!
If you followed along with my residency in Taiwan late last year, you may remember seeing me working with a group of kids at a school in the mountain town of Wulai outside of Taipei. We did a number of individual projects but we finished our time together working on a group project. Wulai is in the mountains with waterfalls, hot springs and lush foliage, so I thought it would be great to make a tree of our own for the the school. Each student picked leaves from their neighborhood and brought them to class to use to press into the clay, they carefully cut out each leaf and then they were glazed with a variety of natural colors.
On our last class the students, teachers, the ceramic museum coordinators and myself worked together to assemble the tree in the school’s stairwell. I prepared the trunk and branches in advance using some landscaping cloth twisted into a wire mesh. The kids attached all the leaves and it was hoisted up to attach to the mesh wall of the stairwell. The kids were so proud of their work and the tree was a wonderful symbol of each of us working together to create something new. Photos of this project are now up on the website under the public art section of my portfolio.
In the final weeks of my residency in Taiwan, the Yingge Ceramics Museum arranged for me to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the mycelium labs at the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Taichung – which was fascinating! In exchange, I gave a clay workshops for the staff of the science museum. The participants were staff and volunteers, most of whom had never played with clay, but who love science and nature.
We created small bowls that they carved into to create natural patterns and designs. All of the bowls were fired and glazed at the ceramics museum and then returned to the science museum. They just sent me photos of the all the bowls installed in their gorgeous greenhouse in a beautiful display of our ART + SCIENCE collaboration.
I’m so thrilled to see how thoughtfully they assembled these pieces into the landscape of their greenhouse. It was a wonderful experience to form this connection between the two museums and I’m grateful to them both for their willingness to accommodate my request to make this cultural exchange happen.
This is the sixth and final (for now) week of ephemeral art installations in nature, which makes 30 installations in total! I’m sure that I’ll be making more of these in the future, but for now, we’ve decided to get back into our home base area of Santa Cruz so I can work on some commissioned pieces in the studio and we can check in with family and friends. I hope that you have enjoyed these pieces as I’ve been hiding out in our van in nature, it’s been really fun to make them!
Just a reminder, that I am not leaving any of these pieces out in nature. I’m not littering or impacting the environment, in fact all the above pieces were made with the same piece of clay I reclaimed each day. Hope you’re enjoying these fleeting installations and remember to pack your trash too!