Friday, February 27, 2009

New Smoke-fired Post Earrings

I've been experimenting with making smaller designs to use for post earrings. First, I make a prototype out of soft clay. Then, when that has completely dried, I press the prototype in soft clay to make my mold. I'll usually impress the the actual mold some more to make elements that will pop up rather than recede in the final piece. Finally, I press the actual pieces into this mold. With this style, I like to press the clay into the mold lightly, to give them very loose weathered feel. I'm hoping this will mesh well with the smoke-fired finish. Here are some pictures from my first batch of finished products.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stamp Exchange

The Etsy Mud Team is having a stamp exchange. As a texture junkie, I am more than stoked to receive some new stamps from other team members. As my part in the exchange, I've made two polymer clay stamp sets. I went with poly clay because it works well with ceramic clay and, frankly, because I didn't know if I'd be able to get some regular clay ones through bisque in time. One has a heart pattern, the other is abstract lines. I'm shipping them both off in different directions tomorrow and will post the new stamps I receive when they arrive.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kid's and Clay Face Jug Project

I just got some of my kid's classes Face Jugs out of glazing last week. As always, I was impressed by the incredible creativity in my groups. It would be nice to be so uninhibited when creating new work.

The assignment was to create a jug from two pinch pots joined in the center with a coiled rim and foot. We spent one week (1 1/4 hour) making the jug and another class period with the facial features.

We talked about the legend in the Appalachians where face jugs were made and used. People would place a face jug on the grave of a family member after they died. If the jug cracked, it meant that person was "wrestling with the devil".

Children were encouraged to make their jugs "ugly". I was hoping this would free them from trying to make it look like a real person, and allow them to have fun with things like warts, beards, funny teeth, etc.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mommy's Little Helper

Whenever I have my 3-year-old daughter come to the studio with me, I am amused by her choice of activity. I offer her clay to play with and she'll putter around for a little. I offer her paintbrushes and paints and she'll do that for a while, too. But the whole time, what she really wants to do is.....clean. That's right, clean. She'll beg me for a sponge and a bucket of water. She LOVES cleaning the bits of clay and smudges off of my wheel, cleaning my bats till they shine, and even sponging the floor. She loves what I usually avoid at all costs. I don't get it, but I'm not going to complain :)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Featured in a Local Newspaper

My gallery show with all the Offspring vessels was recently written up in our local newspaper. Below is an excerpt. To see the full story, click here.

"For Cindy McConkie, Scott Nelson Foster, and Tara Robertson, all of whom have work on display at the Bountiful/Davis Art Center (BDAC) now through Feb. 16, the proximity between the three artists shows off several different parallels. From the different ways that an artist can play with light to the fluidity of images, the work highlights all different kinds of connections."

"Potter Tara Robertson, whose work sits in the center of the gallery, reaches out to McConkie’s art in the way that her work flows and twists. Unlike the other woman’s abstract swirls of light, however, Robertson’s work is meant to be evocative of a very real woman holding her child.

The series, which Robertson has named “Offspring” as a whole, evokes mothers and children of all shapes and sizes through the use of different heights, thicknesses, and curves where shoulder meets body and neck meets head. Taken together, it seems to say something about the universality of motherhood, drawing lines between different people in a way that connects all of humanity."

I love the different perspectives I get when other people comment on my work. The whole thing sounds so much grander than me playing in the mud in my garage :)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Applying for Graduate School

This last week I finished and turned in my application for graduate school. I want to get an MFA in ceramics. I've been thinking a lot in the last month about how I got into ceramics and where I want to go from here. I owe a big thanks to my hubby who read draft after draft and kept telling me to be more confident. Below, I've copied and pasted part of my finished draft of my letter of application.

I became involved with ceramics during my undergraduate work in Elementary Education. Once I took my first clay class, I became infatuated with the medium and just kept finding ways to come back. After years of taking ceramics classes on the side, I found that I was much more interested in a career making and teaching ceramics than that of a full-time elementary teacher. However, by this time, I was nearly finished with my degree and several months pregnant. When I gave birth a month after graduation, I decided to use my “time off” from work and school to explore my possibilities with clay. After nearly a year of creating, experimenting, and developing a coherent line, I started submitting work to galleries, selling at fairs and festivals, and getting my work online. I’ve used knowledge gleaned from my education background to develop child and adult courses in clay. Between selling and teaching, I have managed to build a professional ceramic career while being home for my daughter’s early childhood.

My practical and professional experience with clay before and since graduation has been extensive. I run and manage my own ceramics studio. I mix all of my own glazes from scratch, many of which I have developed for my own personal preferences. I am experienced at loading and firing electric, gas, and wood-firing kilns at low, mid, and high-fire temperatures as well as saggar, pit, barrel, and raku firings. With Clay Arts, Utah, I participated in a saggar-firing experiment in which we tested several additives for fuming effects over a 13-week period. As an active member of this group, I have attended several workshops and taught a section at their first Educator’s Workshop this past year. My work has been juried into several local and national exhibitions, one of which was juried by Val Cushing, whom I was privileged to meet at the opening reception in New York. Through gallery shows and online sales, my pottery has sold all over the US and Canada. In addition to preparation for an upcoming solo show at the Union Station Gallery in Ogden this summer, and filling orders for galleries and individuals, I currently teach clay classes for children and adults.

My recent work has been moving towards more sculptural and abstract vessels. My main emphasis is an exploration of attitudes and relationships. I like to manipulate the stance of a vessel and look at what it implies about the emotion or personality of a pot. Especially in my Offspring series (currently on display at the Bountiful-Davis Art Center), a group of paired works with a parent and child figure, I explore how two vessels can interact, and how differences in sizes, stances, and attitudes change dynamics between vessels. I ask myself questions like, “Is this one too overprotective, crouching over the other?” or “Does the way these tilt away from each other show emotional distance between them?” I draw inspiration for this series from my work as a stay-at-home mom. Technically, I have been striving for larger works, experimenting with creating plaster molds to further stretch my size and shape capabilities.

Ceramics is much more than a hobby for me. I am somewhat obsessive when it comes to clay, and always eager and willing to learn and grow. I feel the MFA program at the University of Utah will help me further expand my abilities and open up increased opportunities to teach, especially at the college level, where I am most interested in working.

Wish me luck! :)