Adventures with terra sig

I”m afraid today I’m just rambling around, talking about dirt and clay. If you’d like to burble about art classes, your current yarn-y projects, go right ahead and join in the comments…

I’ve been taking clay classes since January, and I’m now taking a short summer class in terra sig (and I’m sorry, but it does sound like a villain from Dr Who during the Peter Davidson era). I’m inspired by the work of Shalya Marsh, whose work I saw at a museum exhibit (her work here).  It’s positively lovely stuff, and much larger than the photos imply. Colleen Waata Urlich has a very different style using terra sig application (I’m in love with one of her pieces of pottery: Woven Plum Branch Vessel, even though it’s been sold already to some lucky person). Other contemporary surface treatments by potters are shown in an article from Ceramics Arts Daily.

This form of pottery has been around a great long time (called terra sigillata), all the way back to the Romans in Gaul, and possibly longer. Visit the Roman Open Air Museum (Romanisches Freilichtmuseum) in Hechingen-Stein to see some examples (virtual mini tour at this link). There’s a Wiki about the technique here, with other pictures. There’s a lovely site at the Metropolitan Museum (NYC) about the history of the Roman Table, and though the pictures are quite small I still feel pretty intrigued by how the ancients might have created terra sigillata. I saw some Roman/Gaulish terra sig bowls while on a trip to Köln/Cologne, but it was behind glass, and didn’t feel accessible. (I wondered if the sheen was a reflection of the glass, or the work of a craftsman burnishing the clay?)

So, now my brain is filled with strange phrases like “deflocculant” (definition here) and “mason stains”, and wondering if I’ll get 1 piece out of the pitfire that isn’t in multiple shards. I’m learning the modern technique, and also…. I’m really, really klutzy.

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