Wall Flower: Toying with Wall Art

I’m headed back to the studio today.  As much as I am looking forward to getting on the wheel, my find is focusing on the Laurie Erdman potteryslab roller.

The slab roller is not my natural choice for pottery tools.  The wheel is where I am at home.  Yet, I can’t get the idea of tiles, or more maybe more appropriate – wall sculpture – out of mind.

The seed was first planted at the Smithsonian Crafts Show a few years ago when I saw Natalie Blake‘s sculptural wall tiles.  I loved the undulation of the tiles and how they came together to make a scene or could stand on their own.

I then saw a Japanese-style platter of Catherine White‘s.  It had been fired in her anagama and was incredibly rich in color and texure.  I found myself drawn to the flat surface as a canvas.  Yet, I also found myself thinking back to Natalie’s tiles. There had to be a way to combine the two things I was most drawn to in each of these potter’s work.

That notion has been rolling around in my mind for almost 2 years now.  I have yet to really act on the ideas, much less sketch them out. The only thing that is certain is that they will be wood fired.  I can’t see it any other way.

I did let myself experiment a bit with going flat last fall when I made a few pocket vases like the one above.  I was worried as hell that the piece would warp and come apart in the kiln.  So it was a test of firing integrity for sure.  It turns out, they held up just fine even with a pretty thin backing. Even with the success of this test, I have yet to explore the ideas that marinate in my imagination.

Why haven’t I acted?  I think it is because I have been so wedded to the idea of functional and utilitarian pottery.  Can I really go non-functional?  Can I really go sculptural, since that is more what is in my mind’s eye?  I have hesitated.  I don’t think of myself as that kind of artist (whatever that means).  I am unsure of myself going down that road. Where will it lead? Yet I feel the pull.  And my mind’s eye certainly keeps going back there.

The pull got stronger this weekend.  While glazing some bowls for an upcoming fundraiser, a couple of my studio mates began talking tiles.  Having never made a tile, I stopped glazing and pulled up a chair.  The ideas that I had shoved to the back of mind, bounced right back.

So as I head to the studio today, I will give in.  I will make friends with the slab roller and experiment with the vision I have. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Keep imagining,



About Claytastic

Health coach. Writer. Teacher. Artist. Living an amazing life with MS. Interested in bringing peace and beauty into people's lives.
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4 Responses to Wall Flower: Toying with Wall Art

  1. Lori Buff says:

    This would be a perfect article for a blog that I guest write for, it’s called Risk a day and it’s about intentionally stepping out of our comfort zones. From my work with that project I can bet that you’re going to have a wonderful adventure with your slap roller. I’d love to see the results.

  2. Pingback: potters wedded to function | CARTER GILLIES POTTERY

  3. Judy Shreve says:

    Laurie – in this last year or so I have totally quit making functional work. It was a difficult transition with lots of learning curves – but I feel more creative and content working now than I ever did as a functional potter. Don’t get me wrong – I think there is tremendous beauty in functional work – I just needed to change. And the purchase of a slab roller was the biggest catalyst. (it’s funny that you too mention your slab roller). Anyway a few years ago if someone had told me I would be a hand builder one day – I would have just laughed. I say follow your heart!

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