Saturday, August 17, 2013

gleena past and present

I am in NYC for the NY NOW show, and am staying at my dear friends’ house in Brooklyn. M&A have collected my work from the very beginning, and keep it beautifully displayed (and constantly in use) in their kitchen. I love the way they have mixed early (the turquoise) and current gleena in with vintage serving pieces and french cafe o’lei bowls.


I am very grateful for M&A’s continuing support, their encouragement keeps me going and inspired.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

drips, bumps, indents, and other variations

Today I received a very informative email from a customer, detailing in excellent photos (shown below) everything that they saw was wrong with the custom name bowl they received. They were disappointed in their purchase. I refunded their payment immediately, it is important to me that the customer is 100% happy. But as I studied the photographs, I realized that these drips, bumps, indents, and other variations are what make gleena, well, gleena.

This bowl is so uniquely handmade by me, with my porcelain (made from scratch), with my glazes (formulated and made from scratch). This is what distinguishes my work from all the other makers: perfects, and imperfects, out there. Keeping in mind that the bowl will go to a one of a kind person, I experiment with glazing. Uniformity abounds at department stores, I strive to create a unique piece.
The drips happen when I swirl the glaze around the inside of the bowl, and then pour it out the side. Holding the bowl on the outside, I swirl the glaze around once, covering the inside completely with a light layer, then swirl it around one more time, creating the color variation.

My glaze likes to drip, and pool, it is the nature of its eggshell finish. I can scrape the drips off, even the glaze out, but I choose not to. The inside of the bowl dries overnight, and the next day I dip the outside.

The indents on the rim happen when I stamp the letters in, and then sponge the edge smooth. Each letter is stamped in individually. The suction of the metal letter pulls the porcelain in unpredictable ways. When I sponge the rim, each edge ends up being unique.

The indents and variations show up after the glaze firing. They are always a surprise. I totally enjoy the way my porcelain likes to move in the high fire (up to 2300F). Porcelain turns to liquid during high fires, and dances.

I understand that these variations are not for everyone. But they are for me, and I will continue to explore this mutable material to its full drippy, bumpy, indenty, variable self. The porcelain together with high temperature kiln firings serve up many surprises, kind of like life in general.

And one day, after I am gone, an art historian will pick up this bowl, and say, “Ahhh, these glaze drips and indents are so gleena circa 2013...look at that unique pale dusty rose, and the gorgeous vibrant orange, and the translucent silky porcelain...”

To order your very own, very uniquely handmade, custom name bowl, click here.

Please visit this post on Hella Jongarius for more thoughts on imperfections.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

how to make a cover for an ice bucket, out of liquid porcelain, hmmmm...

The cover had to be spacious enough for the ice bucket to be removed easily. Making a model is a hard process, made more difficult by the fact that my porcelain shrinks about 10% while it goes through all the firings.
For the ice bucket to fit well, the model had to be at least 10% larger than the final product. Quite a design challenge.
I created a model out of plaster, it is giant, and heavy, and took about two months to get right, the first and second try ending up being too small.
The mold for the cover, also out of plaster, is even larger.
It takes 5 gallons of porcelain slip (liquid) to fill the mold all the way to the top.
It is impossible to empty it out by myself, and I end up spilling the slip all over.
When the cover finally comes out of the mold, it has a very rough edge due to being drained upside down.
While the cover is in the ”leather-hard“ stage, I cut out the handles, and clean up the edges with a sponge.
You can see how much the cover shrinks, the knob of the lid is peeking out on top. It is well below the rim in the previous photo. The carrying handles double as a resting place for the ice tongs.
I made four covers, one for me, and three for the client, Lippincott, a graphic design firm in NYC. The covers are glazed blue inside, and ivory on the outside, to match Lippincott’s other gleena dishes, click here to read more about their custom tableware set.