For me, summer is designated playtime in the studio. A time to experiment, explore, learn and grow. Every year my summer explorations have made me go down a different path. From making whimsical teapots to exploring the salt and pepper shakers to learning to lithotransfer on clay, my summers have been a time of self-guided continuing education.
So what was I up to this summer? In late May I chanced upon Mitch Iburg’s work on Instagram and was instantly drawn towards its simple, rustic beauty. I scoured his website to understand his process and was intrigued by the fact that he incorporates indigenous clay and minerals into his work to create pieces that mirror the settings in which they were made. The idea was fascinating and I wanted to learn more. I got excited to see that he was going to teach a workshop on wild clay. Unfortunately this was not a well kept secret because by the time I clicked the right links, it was already full. However that triggered an idea: why not go out on the nearby trails and collect samples of rocks and soil and experiment with it in my own studio to see how that works? I touched base with Mitch for tips who endorsed the idea of experimentation and with that I launched headlong into the process. I enlisted the help of my enthusiastic 13 year-old who helped collect, crush and catalog the different rock samples. I must admit that crushing those rocks was a laborious process as we didn’t have the right equipment. We used a regular hammer and an old Calphalon frying pan to make pebbly chunks and then crushed those into a powder using a retired coffee grinder (talk about being resourceful). I then started making experimental tea bowls to study the affect of these materials on my pieces. Trying to incorporate different ways of application, I created almost a hundred tea bowls, each with a slightly different variation.
I am extremely excited about some of the results which I will share on Facebook and Instagram over the next few days.