Sunday, November 4, 2012


Last week's post referenced Ernst Haeckel's Art Forms in Nature, which is an intriguing look at biological forms.  Haeckel asked the viewer to look more closely at fantastical biological forms that were often overlooked, there by transforming preconceived notions of what certain things ought to look like.  For this piece, I found myself drawn in by that very same idea of seeing something otherwise forgotten.  While out collecting pods for more pieces, I grabbed a couple of small mushrooms whose texture was irresistible.  As they dried, they curled in on themselves, forming their own sort of cocoon.  I continued using the metal clay slip-dipping method, but was met with very different results.  To begin with, mushrooms are very spongey.  Unlike the paper thin pods that quickly absorbed and then built up the metal clay layers, there seemed to be no end to the amount of metal clay slip the mushrooms would absorb.  Next, continuing to wet the mushrooms with paste began to smell a little like I was raising pigs in my studio.  I began with three mushrooms, but ended up with just one piece.  The first catastrophe occurred before firing as I tried to drill into the delicate form in order to create a channel for the chain, it split into pieces that were not worth repairing.  I was able to soak the mushroom in water and remove the majority of the paste in order to recycle the metal clay for future use.  As you can see below, two mushroom forms made it into the kiln, the smaller of the two with a fine silver wire running through it in order to build a bail after it was fired and avoid trying to drill my way into a second disaster.  After firing, and tumbling, I began trying to manipulate the wire and realized the smaller form was too soft and the spongey mushroom had not sintered properly.  I bent the form back and forth until it cracked and got a look inside of the incomplete layers.  The third piece in this series held up.  A little larger, with deeper textured grooves to hold the paste, this form seems to be the right balance of paste and organic matter.  The center is set with a marquise cut 4 mm green CZ, mimicking the oblong form.  The beautiful texture is further pronounced by a patina of alcohol inks in green and red, a subtle nod to the fall day this form was discovered.

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