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Ceramics News Briefs International

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A cook sits in a cafe reading a newspaper. By Garry Knight from London, England, via Wikimedia Commons

UNITED STATES: Eva Zeisel, Ceramic Artist and Designer, Dies at 105, New York Times– Zeisel’s death is by far and away the biggest news for the Art World’s year’s end. Zeisel survived the Nazis and Stalin, then went on to become a hallmark of 20th century design. In 1946, she broke the glass ceiling: she was the first woman to have a one-person show at the Museum of Modern Art. Her contribution to ceramics and Modern Art can’t be under-emphasized and we pause to reflect and honor her at her passing. (Click here to read a short article and a video about Zeisel by Jane Street Clayworks.)

ENGLAND: Gladstone Pottery Museum receives £350,000 to restore bottle kilns, This is Staffordshire – If you have been reading JSCW‘s news briefs, you are familiar with the goings-on in Stoke-on-Trent and the revitalization of pottery history in Great Britain. What is happening there is very heartening and this story reports on the newest efforts along that line. I might add, this article also has a short but powerful slide show that gives the reader a good idea of the size of the project. “We must value our heritage and make sure that the legacy of the pottery industry lives on through these kilns.

ENGLAND: Scientists study ancient Greek pottery to improve spacecraft tiles, Mail Online– Rocket scientists from Getty Conservation Institute, Stanford’s National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Aerospace Corporation have teamed up to study Greek ceramics. They are interested in the fact that “the ceramic pigments in Attic pottery can not only withstand searing heat, but remain chemically stable.” This article is accompanied by beautiful representations of Greek amphoras and a video about the project. A Greek USA Reporter article stated that the “Project leader Karen Trentalman emphasized that while Attic pottery is very old – dating back to the fifth and sixth centuries BC – it can definitely be useful in improving modern technology and design.”

UNITED STATES: Homes of the Future, On Sale Now, Forbes – This story covers many Jetson-style homes that are now on the market. Our interest centres on the next to the last house mentioned, the Pottery House, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The inspiration behind the house was Frank Lloyd Wright. If you are interested, it is currently listed for $4,750,000 (MLS #: 201105413). “The Pottery House’s design hinges on concentric circles.” No humble brick cottage. “About 24,000 adobe bricks make up the structure and Scandinavian ship builders were actually brought in to craft the ceiling.” The real estate agency handling the deal is Santa Fe Properties and you can see the listing by clicking here. Take a look…it’s gorgeous!

INDIA: What’s the highlight of your wall?, Deccan Herald – This is a home interior style feature about the use of RAK Ceramic tile in your home: “wall stylers, a more decorative variant of wall tiles.” The story talks about the use of “tiles with different designs or graphics against plain backgrounds” for kitchens and for bedrooms, soft colors along with borders, “designs, patterns or even beautiful scenery.” The treatment for tiles in the bathroom is such that it makes “space appear larger, while incorporating colour into the design.” Click here to see the RAK Ceramics site. As a tilemaker, it’s always nice to see new applications for tile work…


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Ceramic Newsbriefs International

Starr and Co in Riga

Latvian newspaper, Starr and Co., Riga, via Wikimedia Commons.

MEXICO: Mexican folk art in Oaxaca, The Guardian– A lovely feature story which, in part, explores the famous black pottery of the area. “It is the most ethnically diverse of the country’s 31 states, with 16 indigenous groups (the largest being Zapotec and Mixtec), and in a small area, there are dozens of villages making unique rugs, pottery and wooden carvings.”

UNITED STATES: On View: ‘Common Ground’ at the American Museum of Ceramic Art, The Los Angeles Times – “With more than 300 objects by 53 artists, “Common Ground” is the largest survey of SoCal ceramics in recent years.” The show is at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, California. According to the article, one man, Millard Sheets, created a stir and attracted many world-class ceramists and potters. “”Common Ground” is a who’s who of the postwar ceramics world. ”

IRELAND: Floor tiles that kill pathogens feature at EU innovation summit, Silicon Republic – I am always entranced by incredible technological breakthroughs…maybe it’s the idea of such ingenuity. I can see it could have many applications in public venues, especially hospitals. “The Irish exhibit will showcase tiles…with an antibacterial coating that kills pathogens when exposed to light,” tiles which are “99.99pc efficient at killing the hospital ‘superbug’ MRSA, E. coli…”  The tiles were developed by a “team at the Centre for Research in Engineering Surface Technology (CREST) at Dublin Institute of Technology along with ceramic manufacturer VitrA Ireland.” The invention appeared at the first European Innovation Convention, which took place in Brussels last week.

AUSTRALIA: Revolutionary Ceramicos, The Northern Rivers Echo – An excellent read about working with Indigenous Hermannsburg Potters in Central Australia. Inspired by the people, their work and the dogs that inhabit the area. “Drake artist Cassandra Purdon found artistic inspiration for her ceramic series Story Dogs.” Purdon joined Clare Urquhart, a fellow artist, for the adventure. “The Hermannsburg Potters have their own unique style and they like to hand build their pieces…the women use vibrant colours and have their own firing techniques… The women paint them when they are green (unfired) and then fire them at a low temperature. The resulting colours on the terracotta clay are intense.”

UNITED STATES: Think Big, Build Small: Inventors’ Prototypes, The New York Times – Ceramics is but one topic covered by this story but it is so fascinating, I’m including it. It is about 3-D prototypes submitted with invention patent applications.”The collection soon overwhelmed government storage spaces.” One man, inventor Alan Rothschild, collected “some of the stranger and more elaborate prototypes. Clusters of his 4,000 antiques are now on view in two museums.” One show, at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, “Get Your Gears Turning … the Curious World of Patent Models” runs through Jan. 1. Go see it first if you can because it ends before the other one: Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, they are in “Inventing a Better Mousetrap: Patent Models From the Rothschild Collection,” running through Nov. 3, 2013.

ENGLAND: Industry stymied by energy firms’ demands for upfront payments, The Guardian – This is an excellent story about how the economic downturn has affected potteries in England. It appears that many have closed because they’ve been unable to pay for energy costs needed to fire kilns. Others are being deposits in the neighborhood of £200,000. It brings up interesting questions about the power (no pun intended) utilities wield and the demands they can get away with making when times are bad.

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Ceramic News Briefs International

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Germany: Missing link in Roman conquest of Germany a ‘sensational find,The Local – There has been a major archaeological find about ancient Romans in present-day Germany. Pottery shards are an important component of the find, which focuses on a chain of Roman camps. This most recent find shows that Roman soldiers “used the camp from 11 to 7 B.C. as a base to control the river crossing – which makes the find one of the most important logistical landmarks of the Roman conquerors.”

United States: Science on the SPOT: The Science of Salt Glaze Pottery, Quest – A North Carolina family has been involved with pottery for six generations. This article focuses upon Ben Owen III who makes salt glazed pottery. A companion article, which can be found here, reports on minerals for salt glazing, focusing on glaze chemistry.
England: Ceramics companies take centre stage at major US launch, This Is Staffordshire – City Council leaders from Stoke-on-Trent are launching a National Geographic Museum exhibition on the Staffordshire Hoard. A display of British ceramics will be shown to dignitaries and businessmen. Stoke-on-Trent is enjoying a renaissance and the U.S. launch focuses on promoting the British ceramics industry and informing people about the technological advances in the industry, in addition to supply and demand, and labor.

United States: Surmet Strengthens Fabrication Capability for Transparent Ceramic Armor and IR optics Products, PR Web – As you know, I report on high-tech ceramics occasionally and have come across an intriguing article about an amazing material. It is called transparent ceramic armor and is made of magnesia Spinel. The article reports on a “… wide variety of shapes and sizes ranging in complexity from Transparent Ceramic Armor windows, through prisms, lenses, hemispherical and hyper-hemispherical domes and windows for sensors, lasers and reconnaissance. Surmet’s fabrication capability extends beyond optical ceramics to materials such as Sapphire, Silicon, and Germanium, etc. ”

England: Prince Charles at Victorian Middleport Pottery Site, BBC – Middleport Pottery, the last working Victorian pottery, has received funding from Prince Charles that will allow it to remain open. “Burleigh blue and white floral china has been made there since 1888.” For related articles and a video, click here and here.  Another related story reports on Prince Charles’ objection to the demolition of homes that were built for the potteries workers. For more on that, click here. Thank goodness for Prince Charles and his charities!

United States: The Scrolls as a Start, Not an End, New York Times – Ceramic artifacts are part of an exhibition called “The Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times” that will run through April 15 at Discovery Times Square in New York City (discoverytsx.com). Click on the story link to watch a fascinating slide show that accompanies the article. This is an excellent feature story about the exhibition and is well worth the time it takes to read.

United States: Muralist seeks funds to install art installation, Berkeleyside – A mural is languishing in storage because there is no money to install it at a senior living facility in California. The artist is now pursuing other forms of revenue. “After years of frustration, Alicia turned to the web-based funding platform Kickstarter to raise the $5,000 needed to install the 10 monumental ceramic panels of her work. At time of writing, 17 backers had donated $521. If the $5,000 isn’t raised by November 20, the project will fail.” Click through to this story link to see a video about the artist and her project.

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Ceramic News Briefs International

England: Boost for Staffordshire schools, Creative Boom – Such good news! It isn’t often you hear of schools receiving extra funding for art these days. Staffordshire is one of four Firing Up organizers program in England. The others include Bath, Manchester and Sunderland. It is being done with an eye toward potential professional ceramists. “The Crafts Council and Staffordshire University have teamed up to reinvigorate ceramics teaching in Staffordshire’s secondary schools.”

United States: Modern living: A 2011 spin on a 1951 photo, LA Times – Here is a fun piece… The Times re-created ia 1951 magazine cover using modern decor. The original scene was staged by the Los Angeles County Museum of art. Both old and new versions feature ceramics. The color palette has been retained, as has the placement of objects.

United States: Rare Moravian pottery owl bottle, circa 1800-1820 to highlight Bonhams sale, art daily – This sweet little bottle is expected to fetch between us $60-$80,000. “The Moravian potters produced press molded animal bottles in the early 19th century for everyday use, such as dry spice storage. Two variations of owl bottles were made but their molds have never been located.” The owl has a tortoise slip glaze, inspired by English pottery called Whieldonware.

Canada: Ceramics put a halt to disc brakes, Autonet – This news story  surprised me, for I never thought I’d be posting about automotive news. However, it’s worth a look. “Ceramic brakes were originally developed by British engineers working in the railway industry for high-speed rail…in 1988.” Ceramic discs are much lighter than steel discs, by upwards of 50%. The stopping power is much quicker, yet, at present, they are very expensive.

United States: Firing on all creative cylinders, Sequim Gazette – These zany sculptures make you feel good just looking at them And they remind me of a friend’s style. Splashy, some fantasy-based, others are interpretations of real-life creatures. He also does raku. The artist, Steve Wry, will be exhibiting his work at an art walk on October 7 in Sequim, in northwest Washington. “Because I don’t do functional ware, I consider them works of art rather than crafts,” Wry said. “Art doesn’t need to be equated with craft. I don’t consider myself a craft person, but a sculptor.” The Blue Whole Gallery, 129 W. Washington St., at 681-6033, www.bluewholegallery.com.

England: Little clay commuters fired for Stoke ceramics festival, BBC – “An army of around 6,000 terracotta commuters has been scattered in Stoke train station and at various sites around London. People are being encouraged to pick them up and take them home.”  The figures have been created by a British artist for the British Ceramics Biennial.  The festival last 6 weeks and the figures will keep being replaced during that time.  For more news about the event click here.

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