Gabe and I started Foxy-Wolff when we were both working at the Art Center, Gabe as assistant Curator and myself as resident artist in the ceramic studio. That meant that the work of the first couple years of the project came out of a community studio. While much of our time working on those early projects was outside of the studio’s regular working hours, there are still considerations when working with others that just don’t come up in a private studio environment, such as putting things where others can find them and giving and receiving awkward hugs (Gabe’s favorite).
On the upside, having people around forces clearer communication and invigorates stagnant ideas with new perspectives, plus its more fun.
Our latest round of classes were an exact balance of all the goodness and just enough hugs to keep us on our toes. We hosted a small group that included friends from work, our kids and a few notable drop-ins’. The classes had a very loose structure and wound up running most of the day on the Saturday, with a fluid movement between wheel and hand building with lots of inspiring conversation throughout.
And the results? Pretty fantastic really. In addition to the batch of great ceramics we made during the 6 weeks, we are building a community that will continue our Saturday’s and the conversation.
We’ve been back in the studio again after a long absence for the breeding season on the farm and are starting right back in with work for an upcoming show. We have been invited to the upcoming Beautiful Grotesque show at the Sangre de Cristo arts center in Pueblo. The show opens in October and runs through mid January. Stay tuned for information about the opening and sales.
For this body of work we chose to start with a functional form, since we worked with vases for the graffiti show covered jars seemed like the logical choice. The jars allow for another layer of narrative to work with the content we are working with in this series. The jars are collage, using molds from several of our previous projects and from salvaged doll molds. These images are reconfigured to suggest meanings that might relate to an ancient cultures fertility rituals. Many of the pieces were then textured to reference deep sea salvage, creating a false timeline for the objects. They will be finished to reflect the layers of ideas.
We used a combination of techniques for decorating the pieces, including sprigging, slip casting, buttoning, incising and sculpting.
Though not recommended by clay makers or professionals, we are using two different bodies on pieces that incorporate slip casting. The throwing/spriging body used is Laguna’s White Stone and the casting slip is Cashmere from New Mexico Clay. These fit together remarkably well and gave us almost no problems with attachments during shrinkage to bone-dry.
The work as usual was very collaborative, some pieces we both touched while others were one or the other, and will be decorated as a team as well. We deliver to the gallery in late September, watch for finished pieces soon.
I was attracted to the article in Ceramics Art and Perception on Janet Mansfield (issue 92) primarily because I admire her contribution to contemporary ceramics. She has been so very dedicated to the spread and growing acceptance of ceramic art as a respected medium. Her legacy as a writer and editor and publisher, including the launch of this very magazine in 1990, is one that will be felt for generations.
This article had little to do with these achievements however, it was a conversation about her favorite pot. It seems amazing to me that she could choose one, having made so many, but according to the article, she chose without hesitation. In her discussion of why she loved it so, she discusses the form, the handles, the salt accumulation and the ash, all to be expected from someone who helped the world understand what good pots are, but she went on to note its imperfections, and to include these in the reasons that it was her favorite. She said it’s like people, everyone has a flaw.
It is this accumulated wisdom that I carried away from the read. Her life was spent in clay, and it was her passion. Through making objects she seems to have made herself, and her view of the world. A simple wish to be useful, that carried itself into so many lives and influenced so many others. In the photos she cradles the pot like a beloved pet or a happy baby, it reminds me of the simple pleasure in making objects and the wonders that a life making has to offer.
One of my favorite aspects of the work of Foxy-Wolff is the way that the large project can contain so many splinters and still remain whole. The intent, scope and heart of all the projects lead to the interior of the next project and are connected back to projects that are many years past, even before the beginning of our collaboration. The graffiti pots are especially one of these projects. Gabe and I began working together rather later in our artistic lives. For myself, I was focused on ceramic entirely. Especially working as a studio potter and sometime sculptor for almost 20 years prior to Foxy-Wolff. For Gabe about the same number of years have been given to the study of drawing and painting. Within those time spans we each developed interests. For me, the history of human culture through clay sculpture and pottery, for Gabe, Graffiti and street art have been important influences. For this group of vases we unite those years of experience and differing interests into a unified group of pots that are setting the tone for the work we intend to make for the next year at least.I threw the pots off the hump with the clay that we made this winter. The influence for the form comes from the arts and crafts movement. Not that these pots are intended to copy work from the period, but their forms and handle attachments reflect fashionable conventions from the time. This period has had the strongest influence over my sense of beauty in thrown forms and they are shapes I make often.
once the pots were trimmed, handled and bisqued, they were ready for surface treatment and their first firing. The first step in this process is to spray paint the surface of the work. We use a lead free industrial grade aerosol primer for this.
After the paint dries the pots are glazed. The paint acts as a resist and an uneven glaze surface over the paint is encouraged.
Following the glaze application the pots are ready for firing
While I was focused on design and execution of the pots, Gabe was working on the tags for the decals. Concerning the work Gabe said “I want the work to look as if it was taken from the unknown origins collection in a Museum and used like a wall is used by a graffiti artist”. Here is a group of photos that reveal his process in designingOnce a design is ready on paper it can be moved to the computer for extensive preparation in photoshop for becoming a decal. These were printed by the sheet and then cut out. Gabe chose a repeating order for all the pots. Even though some of the small pieces could only hold 3 of the tags, the order was held throughout the decaling process to prevent overuse of an imageOnce the pots were fired, they were ready to receive their decals
Decaled, they were ready for their third firing to set the decals into the glaze.The completed pots exceeded our expectations and have set the tone for future work. These are for sale through the studio, reach us through our “About” page.
One of the exciting things about the new studio is our ability to take commission work. These plates were commissioned by our good friend Gretchen Keller. We’ve done work for her in the past, but this was the first major order for the new space. She wanted 12 7″ salad plates decaled with a family brand. The order was special in another way, She gave us 9 days do get the entire order done so it could be a Christmas gift for family in Wyoming. I had the plates thrown in a day and trimmed the next, while I worked on the pots Gabe got the decal ready, this includes research, drawing and building the page for the printer. The plates were out of the bisque in five days and were turned around for glazing the next. The client was interested in earth tones so we chose related glazes that rely on manganese in different concentrations for colorant. The turnaround on the decal firing was as quick as the rest of the work and we had the entire order finished in 8 days. A world record! (maybe)
As an extra service we packed the pots for shipping. Gabe is getting them ready for the first box. The pots are always double boxed to ensure safe shipping. Gretchen wanted us to throw the book in the box as well, she’s a pretty cool friend.