The crafted object : Elizabeth Benotti – ceramics

 

“With cooking being one of my greatest pleasures, it is not complete without the perfect dish for display or to eat from. Eating should be enjoyed and there is nothing quite like placing purple beets on a robin’s egg blue dish. The whole package is a work of art.”

 

elizabeth benotti - stackable stitched ceramic whiskey cup

elizabeth benotti – stackable stitched ceramic whiskey cup

 

elizabeth benotti - porcelain floral tumblers

elizabeth benotti – porcelain floral tumblers

 

So says Elizabeth Benotti, a ceramicist based in Massachusetts, where she also currently works as a gardener. Originally from Massachusetts, she has made several moves between there, Colorado and California – first to study Ceramics in Boulder, she was then accepted into the Resident Artists program at the Mendocino Art Center on the northern coast of California.

 

elizabeth benotti - dainty teacup with blue and green drips

elizabeth benotti – dainty teacup with blue and green drips

 

elizabeth benotti - cloudy day ceramic teapot and  teacups

elizabeth benotti – cloudy day ceramic teapot and teacups

 

Elizabeth’s work is typified by clean, basic forms which are decorated with delicate yet graphic linework, and finished with uncomplicated colours. She makes most of her own glazes, and builds her forms through the the traditional techniques of slipcasting, handbuilding and wheelthrowing.

“Working with clay serves as my meditative process in life. It grounds me and it is gratifying to create something solid from a mixture of earth. With my ceramics I explore the relationships between color, image and form. I manipulate clay into sculptural objects as well as everyday functional ware. We take for granted the vessels that hold the essential as well as pleasurable liquids we drink along with the plates and bowls that act as a carrier for our meals we create. It is important to surround ourselves with objects that can be cared for and that can tell a story.”

 

elizabeth benotti - pitcher and tumblers

elizabeth benotti – pitcher and tumblers

You can find more of her work in her Etsy shop here, or on her own site, www.elizabethbenotti.com

 

Beach yourself : Sun

 

I’m taking a short break to head to the beach with my beautiful family. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be bringing you a beach-themed collection of some of the art, craft and design I’ve found from around the world. It is a constant surprise and joy to see the things that have been dreamed up, thought about, designed and crafted by people’s hands and minds. What people can make, what inspires them, what they have to battle with in their own lives and still be able to produce such beauty is a truly wonderful thing, and I feel honoured to be able to share it with you.

I’ll be back on 28th January.

Julie x

*

Oh the sun! Who doesn’t expect the sun when holidaying at the beach? But the sky is a moody beast, and doesn’t always give you what you want. Nonethless, we continue hoping, but know deep in our hearts that rain is good too.

 

lizetpotterystudio – sun bowl

 

acbeilke – sunspots

 

victoriavarga – sun cufflinks

 

 

Kayo Saito – (fragments series) moon necklace no.1 in gold

 

All fresh for the new year

 

The last day of the year? Really, it’s just another day. Ask your dog if it’s special – I’m sure their answer would be “Huh? What’s for dinner?”

However. We humans do like to ascribe meaning to events; it’s a way of defining and making sense of our world; it gives us some kind of measure. (It’s the same type of urge that makes us like to name things, and to understand the processes behind natural phenomena – we like to have a base from which to manipulate our environments according to our own desires.)

New Year’s Eve is not a time for making promises to ourselves that we can’t keep. It is a time for looking back at the year that was, of self-assessment, of understanding what it is that is important to us. Of figuring out where to go from here.

The new year holds the promise of newness and freshness, of great possibilities. And yes, this is true! But keep in mind you are not infinitely malleable. Like materials – paper, glass, metal, fabric – each has its own true nature, capable of many wonderful and amazing things, but not everything. Be kind to yourself – understand who you are, go your own direction, climb your own mountain.

I wish you all the very best for the fresh year.

Julie x

 

taylorseclectic – lime grove earrings – 925 silver, paper

 

svsoaps – citrus bliss

 

cksstudio80 – citrus and sunshine

 

clayswan – tea for two – ceramic

 

uneekglassfusions – coral shoots bowl – glass


The poetry of stars

 

It’s almost christmas, and I know from experience it can be a bit frantic. Enjoy your loved ones. Take the time to breathe, and contemplate the peace of stars.

*

The Peace of Wild Things

BY WENDELL BERRY

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 

missquitecontrary – “stars above and cloud below” – photograph

 

applesmodernart – star ornaments – vintage & craft paper

 

harrietdamave – “north star” – delftware

 

photographybykarina – star anise – photograph

 

colettebream – star – soft cotton pillow

{all images are linked to their source}

The crafted object : Adero Willard – ceramicist

 

Adero Willard’s ceramics could not be described as anything less than bold and uncompromising.

Her pieces are richly coloured, with a predominance of reds, ochre and black. Not surprisingly, she names Matisse as one of her major influences for the use of pattern, and there is also a similarity in the use of strong shapes to create decorative elements.

 

adero willard – black vines on blue night – lidded mug

 

Adero had a trip to India with her mother when she was young, and she told me it was a seminal experience. “My mom was a part of a Hindu based religious organization. I grew up chanting in Hindi, and learning the religious texts of the Hindu religion, as well as the teachings of yogic practices. When I was eleven my mother took me with her to India on a religious pilgrimage. The experience of flavors, climate, colors, and people was intense. I have always loved colorful things, but in India I had the chance to experience a richly ornate world that was beyond any experience I had or anything in my imaginings. I had an intense connection to sari fabric as well as the Hindu comic books that told the religious stories of the Ramayana, and other Hindu stories. The combinations of the textures of cotton and silk and the vibrant colors of fabrics interlaced with gold threads, next to other vibrant colors was a monumental influence in how I make work today.”

Her experiences with fabrics didn’t stop there. “I was also really intrigued with the sewing rooms of my grandmother and also a family friend who as a child I spent a lot of time with. I liked being around the piles of fabrics, sewing projects, and sewing machines. As well as all the patterns and textures I liked that things were being made there.”

 

adero willard – full moon garden – platter

 

“The other essential direction of my work has had to do with the exploration of identity. My multiracial identity, African American, Cherokee, and European American has been a part of the work I make. Growing up, I struggled to discover who I was and where I fit into the world. Eventually, I realized that I was satisfied with existing in ‘the in-between’ of racial identity, as there was richness and complexity there as well. My work therefore is more of a metaphor for identity; it is made up of layers that reveal and veil through rich colors and patterns.” And she says that while she admires the work of other artists (such as Kevin Snipes, Jenny Mendes and many more) who include more representational imagery in their work to create a more personal narrative, she feels challenged by this in her own.

Other influences for the work are numerous, and include Frida Kahlo for her rich colors, and personal and political narrative, Romare Bearden’s collages of jazz musicians and the people of Harlem, Gustav Klimt, and William Morris. Technical and philosophical teachers and mentors include Julia Galloway and Walter Ostrom.

 

adero willard – saffron & ginger – lidded box

 

adero willard – platter

 

Adero has worked full-time as a studio potter for many years. Her journey in this direction started when she was in high school, where she was able to participate in their arts program. “In high school I had the opportunity to take a bunch of different art classes, like painting, drawing, weaving, and pottery. I loved weaving and found it really satisfying, and I also spent as much time as possible in the ceramics studio. After high school I went to The New York State College of Ceramics and Art and Design (Alfred University). I really liked Alfred’s approach to teaching, in that they never required you to choose a specific medium to major in. So, while I mostly took ceramics classes, I also took printmaking, painting and drawing.

“It was in 2004 that I decided to leave Boston where I was teaching clay classes at a place called Mudflat Pottery Studio and also making a living as a potter. At the time I was mostly doing small local shows. I decided to go to Graduate School, at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and then after that I got a year long residency as the Salad Days Artist at Watershed Center for Ceramic Art. That residency is where I began working in terracotta, and specifically local clay from the Watershed’s own clay resource. The task of making 500 plates allowed me to pursue pattern and color extensively, and fuelled the work I would develop up until the present day.”

 

adero willard – vase

 

There are always challenges. As her work becomes increasingly complex, Adero says she has had to charge more for each piece. Although she believes this is a positive direction for her work, at the same time she doesn’t wish to exclude or limit her audience, and she is especially cognisant of the need for young people to experience handmade objects. And so like many artists, there is an ongoing search for her appropriate market.

“The other challenge that I see is that the places where we show and sell our work will change as the global internet market continues to grow. I feel strongly that we need to readdress the environment of craft shows, and retail galleries. At least to figure out how to get young people who really live in an internet world to engage in a handmade and process driven world – one where the tactile and sensory experience is important to the things we make.”

 

adero willard – teapot

 

And a final piece of advice? “My best piece of advice came as a quote via Julia Galloway, and I continue to question its meaning all the time. Annie Dillard wrote ‘Aim for the chopping block. If you aim for the wood, you will have nothing. Aim past the wood, aim through the wood; aim for the chopping block.’ ”

You can find more about Adero and her work at http://aderowillard.com, and you can also check out her processes and other news on her blog http://aderokai.blogspot.com.