Visualizing mirror images is tough work. I remember a lovely moment, though, when, as a child, I attended my great-grandfather’s 90th birthday party on a bright, sunny day in Montana. His wife Minnie, my step-great-grandmother, showed me how to draw on a piece of paper using only the reflection of pencil and paper in a mirror. I couldn’t look down to see what I was drawing. It was hard but intriguing. To this day, I think Minnie was great because she took the time to show me this method of drawing and she knew something this neat. Somewhat related, I have difficulty visualizing a potter’s stamp, a reverse image. The stamp, also known as a chop, is something I want to use to ‘sign’ things I make. Interestingly, when I saw my father’s signature on a painting several years ago, I noticed that he used the exact same design. J.P.: same initials, too. Frankly, it looks sort of like a cattle brand, but it’s striking and I’ve used it on all my artwork, clay, paint, or pencil, since I was a teenager. I looked at some of my old work and there it is…hasn’t changed a bit. Thus far, I’ve never made a chop. I can tell now that I’m going to have to sketch my stylized signature, look at it in a mirror, then draw what I see in order to get my reverse image because I just can’t visualize it. My stamp must be durable and I guess I’d better make more than one and several different sizes. And also make it as ergonomic as I can. ‘Chop’ is a colloquial Chinese term for ‘seal.’ I love looking at beautiful examples of calligraphy, then scanning the bottom left for the cinnabar border filled with Chinese characters, the artist’s signature. I have a lovely chop made of variegated soapstone, gold and red-orange. There is a lion carved on the top and it’s three inches long and one inch wide. I’ve moved it around with me since the 1970s and I love it. I suppose I could have my signature carved into it and use it for clay, but I’ve gotten so used to seeing it on the shelf of my secretary that I’d miss it. Best to make them out of clay, stick to the same medium. It seems like there are several ways to approach a stamp for clay work: symbolism, literalness, artistic design, legibility, language. I’ll go with my old standby that’s held me in good stead.
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What better day to initiate change than on the first day of spring? We just got back from a Spring Equinox stroll down Jane Street. The fresh air did me good and I saw snowdrops and crocuses in bloom. Before I came in, I looked at the iris and day lily shoots coming up on our hillside. Perfect for balancing all the brainpower I’ve been expending today. I am in the midst of big change at Jane Street Clayworks and want to keep you in the loop. Because this is new terrain for me, my friends Yu Yu Din and Connie Thoreson have helped me and my friends at the Port Moody Arts Centre Open Studio are supportive. I am also using Blogging for Dummies. My plans include a guided transfer from Jane Street Clayworks on my current WordPress.com site to a WordPress.org site. This will enable me to do many more things with my blog. I’m so excited! My focus will continue to be the creative process and all things clay. In terms of design, the new page will look the same, at first, and changes will be made slowly. People associate the blog name with the current design and, at present, and I don’t want to muck with that. The switchover will give me leeway to do many more things. For one, it will allow me to have a storefront, if I choose. Associates will be able to log on, blog and post at their leisure. This means a lot to me. I come from a democratized workplace model. In plain terms, it means I’ve worked with others in a co- fashion, not top down. I am bringing the spirit of co-work and play to my blog! Today, I bought a domain and I am now doing consumer research about hosting services. So far, I’ve narrowed it down to two, MediaTemple, a service that is a Better Business Bureau member with an A+ rating, and Laughing Squid, a San Francisco-based indie service that caters to artists and has an open source emphasis. This evening, I will continue to compare features, consider my needs and personal values, make a decision and sign up for one of these outfits. Both Laughing Squid and MediaTemple are companies from the U.S.; however, to balance my choices, I went with a Canadian company for my domain, Domainsatcost.ca. Timeframe: as it happens. You will be kept informed along the way…. So, wish me luck! Virtual lucky horseshoe activated!
Mishima inlay is very attractive to me and I want to do more of it. This form of inlay does require a painstaking process using colored slips. First, I had to remove clay from the areas I wanted to inlay, then fill them with slip, let it absorb over time, then add more, etc. Finally, after the inlaid slip was level with the untouched clay on the piece or vessel and dry enough, I could clean it up and let it dry completely. I did this once with a tile mural I did of stellar evolution, inlaying cobalt slip on white clay. It turned out quite nice. But, as I say, very time-consuming. So, I was very happy to learn of the Mishima technique using underglaze. It seems so very easy and, while it’s not the same, traditionally, it affords very nice effects. I rather stoked about seeing this method on this video and I want to experiment with in the future. Mishima is an ancient technique and soon a friend of mine is going to take me to the studio of someone who is a master at this technique. They both go to the same Buddhist temple and my friend and I both look forward to going.