While all this painting has been going on, my sculpture mind has been fermenting. I mull over things. I sit. I wait. I'm following several threads of thought in my sculpture and sometimes after some mulling I abandon them before I get too deep into it, literally sometimes as work, finished and unfinished clogs up my studio. I'm also on hiatus as the Arts Center where I fire my work is on holiday break.
I have one Trump underwear piece waiting patiently for me to buy a diamond drill bit as the lacing holes fused with glaze during the second firing. I've been procrastinating on this forever because Lowe's is exhausting. Plus I'll get distracted by odd bits of hardware I'll buy because they may work someday but will really join a ton of others in a box or jar in my studio. Sculptors tend to be hoarders and I'm trying my best not to fall in to this trap again. I currently have a large selection of glues and epoxies hoping someday to find the one that actually works well and doesn't give me brain damage. I write this as I glance at a pile of broken ceramic undies and bras that beg to be saved.
I've also been contemplating the history of ceramic styles and their place in women's lives. Ceramics and dishware have long been part of women's identity. Registering for china was one of those weird customs I never partook in but was fascinated by. My mother has an extensive collection that while I appreciate it weighs me down with the thought of having to house it. Luckily my older son appreciates owning things like this much more than I and has somehow inherited the need to know which crystal glass to drink the whiskey out of and which to drink the cognac. My mother is happy to bequeath my son all her finery.
While I don't need to own it, I'm still intrigued by all the history from the fancy to the mundane. Women have often been described as being kept in gilded cages and the domestic items they use are part of that cage. Wedgewood, Delft, and Lennnox china, along with Corningware for the practical woman, are almost totemlike. Wedgewood Jasperware is immediately recognizable as is the dainty Corningware cornflower pattern. Women have used these to secure places in the status quo. My underwear being ceramic, it felt obvious I should bring these ideas together.
It was delicate work adding these details to my pieces by hand. I'm drawn to the idea of being a craftsman, when I was young imagining I'd grow up and paint Hummel figures in their factory in Bavaria. (Sidenote: My German mom owns lots of them) Unfortunately, patience for this type of work runs out for me after a while. While I enjoy it occasionally, I don't have the focus for hours on end. I do have a few pieces ready for their 2nd round in the kiln and I'll see if they're worth pursuing or need to be adjusted.
Now being me, I had to add some words women are called while in their gilded cages. I have lists and lists of them in my sketchbooks. It started with my "Women are always too something" Series (which I need to get back to over the next few months). I had originally made these panties in order to do a "Days of the Week" series but that idea is still fermenting so I had several blank panties to experiment with. This was when I made the connection with china styles.
Two were on the small side though which was a bit disturbing since they looked like children's underwear. I found them unsettling myself considering the camel toe I tend to add. They weren't quite small enough to look like scaled down women's panites. I pondered all the things little girls are told which leads to a whole new series. I didn't want it to be obvious though, more like ghosts haunting my psyche. I used a glaze liner pen for white on white. On the "Be a Good Girl" piece I used a clear glaze over it but I'm not completely satisfied. The paper clay has a manilla paper look to it and I wanted it more pristine. The "What are little girls made of?" piece has the liner pen and a matte white glaze on it. I'm hoping to get it in to the kiln next week.
Glazing is always a gamble. I've tried to keep it more simple over the last year. It's frustrating to put so much work in to a piece and then the glaze is disappointing. This happened a lot in my "Women are always too something" series. I was still experimenting...too much I think. Oftentimes the colored glaze is distracting. On the other hand, they remind me of how people have collections of mugs, all different, some ugly or tacky, souvenirs or gifts. They keep making their way back into the cabinet, multiplying. If they make it to Goodwill, someone else buys them, often as a joke or because they need cheap mugs for work, and their lives continue. With that thought, maybe I'll keep going with it for that series as it adds another layer.
Tomorrow I'll see the pieces that have made it through the kiln over the holidays and fingers crossed, they'll be successful. Then on to another round of underwear making. Which series to continue on though, without starting yet another. Sigh, I'm going to keep the Underwear as portraits series for another post. Oh and the new figurative pieces too. I make quite a bit of work considering how much time I sit mulling things over.