Friday, February 27, 2009

Experimental Studio

My eight days here in DK feels like eight weeks.

Is this a good thing?
It's late friday night at Guldigergaard and I am crafting some alone time so I can catch up with myself. Much if this week has been about adjusting to the new people and place and figuring out how things work, where things are- in the house, in the studio, and in the town. Complicated and slow for me at times because I can't read the language! Trying to make sense of studio materials written in Danish for example........

But this week has also been occupied with technical experiments in clay. I've been fortunate to be here in conjuntion with a workshop presented by Karen Harsbo of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. She is an accomplished sculptor who uses clay in unique ways, with perhaps unorthodox materials. This residency is about breaking new ground in my own ceramics, so I really welcomed the opportunity to check out Karen's tricks and techniques! I was most intersted in the work she has done with sand-casting, paper clay, and plaster.

We mixed up a batch of paper clay (toilet paper blunged with Royal Copenhagen casting slip!) and cast some random objects in sand, potato starch, even sugar. Then also added plaster to the casting mix, because this can create a very dense, vitreous material when fired. (Yes.... clay and plaster mixed together and fired.) Here are some small test pieces of Karen's at right.

Less exotic but very useful to me has been learning how to cast an object in plaster using a one, two, or three part mold. This is a very standard method of working for many ceramic artists, but something I never learned. I have been interested in creating contemporary adaptations of cast vintage porcelain tableware, and perhaps also casting those forgetable items we use every day- a disposable plastic cup or spoon for example- treated with gold luster and period decals. Kitsh!!!

Wherever it takes me in the weeks to come, I am honing a new skill.
This thrills me.
Today I made a three part mold of a diminutive Romanian egg cup ("found object" of the day?!). I am not thrilled with the casts (again, using the Royal Copenhagen slip) so far. Thankfully, I have tomorrow. And the next day...

I have bisque-fired some slip-cast sheets of the RC porcelain for testing cyanotype. Afraid I am leading myself down a frustrating path with the C.type on clay, but of course i am going there anyway! In the meantime, here is a test-drive on really crappy brown paper, working out my exposure times.

The image is very unstable because the paper is of such poor quality of course, but still useful for my purpose. And I'm getting negative images because I'm using a positive on acetate for my print...!

Big field trip to Grimmerhus yesterday, the Danish Museum of International Ceramic Art in Middelfart (pronounced something like melfard). Wow. The featured exhibit by Danish artist Lotte Glob was fascinating. LG actually lives in Scotland and the photos she exhibited in conjuntion with her large ceramic pieces were so evocative. Sculptual work which is course and raw, fired with sand and rocks, and glassy blue glaze dripping like water and the powerful seduction of the moors.

Some of Glob's smaller works here. I think the rabbit skulls on the right must be dipped in slip and fired?

The photos of Scotland blew me away and the actual location of the museum, on a bench above the sea, reminded me of people and places from elsewhere in my life, the life I only just stepped out of... near and yet far. I walked the grounds of the museum alone and thought about how easy it is to become unmoored from a sense of self and identity.

Who am I, now that I am here

and you are there...

I sense already that this theme is the undercurrent which will run through the work I create here in Denmark.

I left the exhibit and it's sea-strung locale full of longing.
And ready to make good work.

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