A Story – Reflectors

She couldn’t remember when she had first noticed the totem pole. She had just looked up from her dark lonely thoughts one day while walking down the street and seen it. Every day for the next month she had noticed that more items had been added. She didn’t know who was doing this, or when, as she had never seen anyone attaching anything to the lamp post, or even taking much notice of it. It was almost as if she was the only person to see it.

Today was her day, though. She had planned it for a week and finally plucked up courage.
As she twisted the blue beads into the wire she held her breath guiltily.

“Hello,” said a soft voice from behind her, ” I wondered when you were going to add something of your own…”

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~Richard

 

 

Mondrian inspired work

Pieter Cornelis “Piet” Mondriaan was an important member of the De Stijl movement, founded in 1917, which sought to reduce their art to pure abstraction and simple form and color. Often this meant using only straight lines and primary colors in the work they produced. Mondrian (he dropped the second ‘a’ to fit in with the Paris art scene) is perhaps best known for his grid-based paintings that follow this form of “neoplasticism,” as shown in Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow, painted in 1930.

I have always liked the simplicity and boldness of this art and a couple of years ago I created some digital art that was inspired by it, although I modified the form by using using lines that intersected at angles other than 90 degrees in place of strict perpendiculars associated with Mondrian et al.  More recently I have translated those thoughts into ceramic work that builds on this thought into a three dimensional piece. This is the first piece to come out of the kiln.

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~Richard

 

 

My tribute to Clarice Cliff ceramics

Nearly a century ago, back in the roaring twenties, there was a little known ceramic artist in England called Clarice Cliff, who worked at the A. J. Wilkinson pottery in Newport. She was soon noted as an accomplished decorator of their traditional wares and she was allowed free reign to also paint some of the defective pieces in her own patterns. Initially she covered the blemishes on the pottery in simple triangles, in a style which she named “Bizarre.” Much to the surprise of the company’s senior salesman, these pieces were very popular and led to Clarice being given more autonomy and to design the actual pieces of pottery for painting.

In the 1930s two factories were built to specifically produce her ceramic wares, always with bold colors and often with unusual shapes that fit the art deco style of the period. Her work was produced until 1964 and remains popular to this day.

When I was a child we were fortunate enough to own two Clarice Cliff vases and a bowl, and their designs always intrigued me. Last year, when I had a little time on my hands in the ceramics studio I created a vase in a similar style, but I left it on the shelf for nearly a year as I was not ready to tackle how to complete the design.

Over the last couple of weeks I finally got round to finishing this piece, loosely based on one of her leaf designs from another work, as my tribute to this quintessentially British designer.

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~Richard

The Art of Lyme Disease

As part of our bucolic Pennsylvanian environment we have many deer traipsing across our property throughout the year. These pleasant little groups, especially when they have the fawns with them, are nice to see, although, despite the best attempts of Disney, they do have a few annoying, and even darker traits.

The most direct impact they have is their relentless browsing on many things in our garden. We have had many plants, both vegetables and flowers taken, and much damage done to young trees and shrubs too by these marauding hordes. In their defense, it’s understandable as to them we are nothing more than a provider of a herbivorous smorgasbord from which to dine, but it’s bloody annoying nevertheless.  

That being said, these hoofed visitors are generally harmless to us, though, with two notable exceptions. Firstly, they have a tendency to leap out in front of traffic, so injuring or killing not only themselves but many drivers who hit them and, secondly, they are a significant part of the lifecycle for the parasite that causes the Lyme disease that is so prevalent in our area.

Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the spirochete parasite Borellia burdorferi which is carried by the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, and delivered when the tick is having a good blood meal on a human being. This little payload can cause a classic “bullseye” rash of concentric red rings on the skin as the infection spreads, although it does not occur in all cases. Once infected the victim exhibits flu-like symptoms of fever, fatigue, muscle aches and generally feeling unwell. If it is diagnosed quickly enough then one or two 28-day treatment cycles of oral doxycycline should take care of it, although there can be long term effects which include joint pain, arthritis and neuropathies.

The weird thing, from my perspective, is that a person does not obtain immunity from the infectious agent, but can be reinfected. I know this as I have been immunologically diagnosed with this twice in 3 years so far.

So, as I sat here over the weekend I thought I’d create some “Lyme inspired” artwork, in the style of those pop art posters. Lyme Disease – the gift that keeps on giving!

Lyme1

Lyme3

Lyme2

Richard

Artful rescuing and repurposing an idea

Many months ago I created a roughly square ceramic plate on which I was going to use some creative glaze. After drying this was put in the kiln to bisque fire but unfortunately it cracked badly, possibly due to another piece of work being placed on it during firing, so creating some heat stress. I was disappointed but at least the plate was intact so I left it on the shelf in the studio. I would bring it down once in a while to think about what to do and then usually put it back again.

Then a few months ago I decided it was taking up too much space and I should experiment with some more glazes and finally use this piece. So, I dipped one half in assad black glaze and the other in white and then fired it, as this was my favorite combo at that time for several pieces I had created.

When I took the plate from the kiln I was immediately struck by the vision of a dark sky being torn asunder by a tornado tearing across the plain, with mountains in the distance.

A few more weeks passed and I thought why not add the most iconic red shoes to this scene as a finishing touch!

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It would be great to hear of others’ stories of saving or reusing damaged pieces of art to create a totally new piece.

~Richard

May Day, Kitchener redux and Voting.

May Day Celebration isn’t a big thing in the USA. We don’t celebrate it as the start of Spring and there’s certainly no National Holiday for us on what is largely International Worker’s Day in many countries in the Western Hemisphere. In fact, it usually just passes us by as a regular working day. This year, though,  many are talking to the streets, mainly protesting the current state of affairs in the government and the recent policies of the US Executive.

I find all this latter day engagement in the system fascinating. It is interesting to see just how much politics is being talked about these days compared to only a few short years back. This is a good thing as perhaps more people are finally taking active interest in the way they are being governed.

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That being said, my point today is to highlight the still pathetic engagement that voters generally have in our Western democracies. It is staggering that we pontificate about installing democracies onto other cultures, rightly or wrongly, and belittle anyone who does not espouse our values and yet, when it comes around to election time quite often fewer than half of eligible voters actually turn up to the polls to actually make their mark in the box.

The next big election in my little transatlantic world is in the UK next month and I could not but help create this poster based on one of the many (in)famous WWI recruiting posters put out with Lord Kitchener’s prominent mustachioed visage.

My perspective – get out there and do your democratic duty by casting your vote – even if it means writing in someone else’s name because you don’t like any candidates. If you don’t make this small effort what right do you have to even comment on our government?

~Richard

Easter Egg Redux

I have had such a busy last few weeks that I totally forgot to post this blog entry that should have been uploaded on Easter Sunday! Back in the UK it’s a tradition to give chocolate Easter Eggs as gifts on Easter Sunday. Over here in the USA they have been very hard to come by and only recently have I started to see a few more of these for sale. As an aside, I find this odd, as it’s unusual for confectionery manufacturers to miss a new marketing opportunity, but there you go.

Last year I managed to get a mold and make a chocolate egg for my wife, as detailed here. This year I thought I’d do something a little different so I used the same mold but instead made a ceramic two part egg and glazed it in white with blue and yellow highlights, in the style of a faux Faberge Egg. As a finishing touch I filled with some of her favorite chocolates, Wilbur Buds, from Lititz, PA.

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~Richard

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