the appeal of blue

I've become a little obsessed lately with blue and white ceramics.

This might seem like a pretty specific obsession to have- I don't actually like the color blue very much, I don't wear it much, it's not typically my first choice for decor. Living in Fairbanks, however, makes it difficult to ignore. The whole city seems to be saturated with it- no thanks in large part, I'm sure, to UAF's school colors, royal blue and yellow. UAF's color scheme, because of it's prominence in the Fairbanks community, transfers into the logos, color schemes and decor themes of many local businesses and community sports organizations (including the roller derby league that I skate with).

I digress. I changed my minor this year to Ceramics, from Native Arts. Not because I'm not interested or invested in Native Arts, but because I never knew how much I'd like Ceramics, since I never had the time to take a class in undergrad. It felt so nice in the Intermediate course I took this past Fall to just make things, immediate and tactile things, that I signed up for a second semester of it. Of course, leveling up means that I'm no longer allowed to get away with just making stuff, and have to find a focus for the work I want to do. Womp womp.

At some point last term, Celadon glazing piqued my interest. I grew up around a lot of Asian and Asian-inspired ceramics, celadon works chief among them. I presented a short research project on the history of the glaze and it's use in ancient Chinese ceramic ware, and that grew into an interest in the theory and history of glazing and ceramic decoration in general. It's not actually that strange that I've settled on blue and white wares for the moment- they're iconic, they can be found in most early Asian and eventually European clay traditions, and the history of the patterns and techniques is complicated and fascinating.

One of several pages in my cell phone camera albums dedicated to blue & white wares. This page in particular is work that I've made this term, mostly pigment and decor experiments.

One of several pages in my cell phone camera albums dedicated to blue & white wares. This page in particular is work that I've made this term, mostly pigment and decor experiments.

I wouldn't consider myself a ceramicist quite yet. A lot of the work I'm doing this semester is experimental- I'm not great on the wheel yet and I'm still developing a lot of the technical skill necessary to make the work that I'd eventually like to make. But for now I'm experimenting mostly- with surface decor, with pigmentation, with glaze and underglaze and slip and oxides.  I made a darker clay body this term in order to play with the reading of the work- does blue and white read the same as blue and tan? Why or why not? How does a darker clay body change the perceived value of a work? Why? Many of these questions are still in the works, and many of the works are still in the works. It's certainly been a learning experience- maybe you can see all the fingerprints I left behind from working with under-watered cobalt oxide? But it's been pretty fun so far. It's nice to work in a medium that's still kind of a mystery to me, something that I can't necessarily predict the outcome of yet.

i made some stuff out of dirt

Photography will always be my first love. Photography was the first medium I ever tried in which I understood exactly how to get the image in my head to appear on the paper. Photography taught me the only chemistry I remember from high school, the only advanced math I use on a daily basis, and the only control I could exercise in my own life as a young adult.

But sometimes, it just feels good to make stuff out of dirt.

(Obviously, yes, clay bodies and glaze compounds are far more intricate and exact than just "dirt". But like, it's basically dirt.)

Especially because my photographic practice lately has shifted to a digital workflow, photography isn't as tactile for me as it is when it's darkroom-based. Of course I still love it, and all the different intricacies that come with a digital practice. But today, I got to pull these babies off the "finished" shelf, and it felt really good. They're too thick, the glazes overlap too much some places and not enough others, the handles are awkward sizes and so are the mugs- but it felt good. So, sorry, everyone I know, but you're all getting a mug or a bowl or a sad ashtray for Christmas, and I don't even care if you like it or not.