Germany’s Golem Architectural Ceramics

Do you need enormous bricks to replace broken ones in your castle? How about tiles for a pyramid? Golem can make them for you! This German pottery is amazing and I am so glad I learned about it. The setting is also beautiful…a former farm near Berlin. The company makes Art Nouveau tiles using the cuenca or tubelining technique, too. I posted about this technique earlier and you can read about it here. (For Golem’s  catalogue click here.) A golem is a creature from Jewish folklore.  According to Wikipedia, it is “an animated anthropomorphic being, created entirely from inanimate matter.” It also states that “the word golem occurs once in the Bible in Psalm 139:16, which uses the word גלמי, meaning “my unshaped form.”

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Bear Tales: the intersection of art and wildlife

Bear totem on grave. Ketchikan, Alaska. Source: Sir Henry S. Wellcome/Wikimedia

Today’s post was prompted by a bear sighting yesterday. My friend Tamina and I were slogging through the rain and were near the end of our four-mile walk. A new immigrant from Germany, she said she recently read a brochure about how to act if you saw a bear. We walked on. After a fashion, I looked up, then quietly said, “There’s a bear.” She glanced up, saw it, then we both started walking backwards slowly, which signals that we are in retreat. It was a lovely bear! We were on the trail that skirts the waterfront at Shoreline Park in Port Moody. It is a heavily forested area at the end of an ocean inlet, the Burrard Inlet. Many, many bears. I’d say this bear was a young adult or older ‘teenager.’ It was beautiful. Its forepaws were on the trail. We could see half of it, the rest was concealed by brush. I wanted to stay and just look at it, but that wouldn’t have been wise, so we started backing up slowly, slowly. Naturally, I now have bears on my mind. They are lovely creatures. Right now, they’re eating as

A young bear foraging in my back yard

much as they can before they hibernate. I’ve seen quite a few here, and while not unusual, it’s the first time I saw one along the trail in the park. The First Nations consider bear medicine to be special and very strong. An elderly medicine woman I knew, Grandma Mary, had grizzly bear medicine. Very powerful. One time in the 1990s, she took me into her sweat lodge. While inside, I followed her instructions, slathering myself with bear grease, some of which I still have. Bears are a very important member of the natural world

Gary with his polar bear during Open Studio

and when people are Bear Aware, bear and human can co-exist. The problem here is human ignorance and unchecked land development, which is destroying bear habitat at an alarming rate. The Province of British Columbia is not a wise steward. It is sickening. People are so ignorant. They don’t want to share the world with nature. They pretty much want it on their terms solely. As long as people believe they have dominion over nature, nature will suffer. So, bears are on my mind, as a result of my experience yesterday morning. Last evening, I was sitting on the couch thinking of bears. Then I thought of clay and bears. Take a gander at the bottom of the Moonbear Pottery & Indian Arts site. Her bear and salmon vessels are exquisite. Here is the linkto her Bear Wall Shield, on her Etsy site. Seeing it reminds me of a bear’s rolling gait; it’s almost liquid.  One of the best bear sculptures I ever saw is at the arts centre, done by a child. It is a polar bear on its back, head lifted up with a salmon in its four paws. White, white bear and red, red fish.

No hibernation Close-up

Tracks of our 1/1/09 "New Years Bear"

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Raku U, an art event for my community

Yesterday was Raku U at Art 4 U Day, one of the many events taking place this year at the Port Moody Festival of the Arts. We had our usual spot in the parking lot behind the Port Moody Arts Centre. Our town is designated the City of the Arts and we do not disappoint. This was also a fundraiser for the Ceramics Department. Night before last, I was concerned because a wind warning is in effect. Also, though I slept right through it, we evidently had two thundering downpours. Luckily, when I arrived at the arts centre for setup at 9 a.m., the heavens smiled on us. It didn’t start raining heavily till later on. Yes, people got wet, but we’re part geoduck here. While rain doesn’t bother us much, a respite early in the day was helpful, as we zoomed back and forth with trolleys and tables, setting up our various events. Ceramics was among the mediums represented. There was a stage for music, a catering truck, and things were hopping inside and outside the art centre. When I returned to help ‘strike set,’ I got there a little early so I could take these pics for you. Enjoy!

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Making artisan tile molds from clay

Today, I wandered over to the arts centre after an appointment downtown. I wanted to pick up a mold I’d made. It turned out well and I’ve added it to my collection and now have four. For some reason, they are all of white clay. Since I’ve started making the molds, I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to pass on. What do they say these days? “Pass it forward.” I use quite a bit of clay to make the molds and I make sure the clay is well-wedged. Because of the amount of clay I use, the molds are also heavy. I want them to be sturdy enough to step on, if need be. Most of the time, I make the impression on the table, but some times I use the floor. A mold is a reverse of the original. Make sure the original is exactly what you want because that is what will ‘take.’ After wedging, make a thickish slab, then, place it on a board. Make the slab big enough to have good-sized margins. Sprinkle cornstarch on the slab to act as a release agent, then carefully press the tile you are molding into the clay. Using even pressure, press down to the depth you want. Let go. Place another board on top of the board, slab, tile stack. Now, flip the whole thing. Remove the top board, then carefully lift the molded slab, placing it on your work surface. Score the back heavily to prevent warping. Carefully turn it over and place on a board onto which a dampened paper towel has been laid. make sure it’s completely flat. If any distortions exist, fix them. Also remove, open up, or fill in any lip or area that would cause clay removal to hang up on any edges. Then dry slowly, very slowly. I want to make sure they’re bone dry for bisquing and that means that some of the ones below have dried six months. Cover it with more damp paper toweling, then place under plastic. Move it into the damp room. Change the damp paper on top now and then. Dry as you would any greenware, just do it slowly. The way I figure it, if I am extra cautious, my mold will turn out well and be very useful. Because of the long drying time, if you use good clay, the mold itself will become moldy. Mold burns off the white clay completely when fired; however, it does stain the terracotta. By the way, using a mold isn’t cheating. It’s efficient. I can make and alter new ones using the base tile as a starting point. Each tile is also finished individually and no glaze treatment looks the same. A tile made from a mold is still handmade. So, here goes…I’ll talk about each, one-at-a-time.

Mold for Trees tile

This was the first mold I made and it is used for my “Trees” series. I have made four different tiles using this mold: “Snowfall,” made with terracotta, “Northern Lights,” “Golden Hour” and “Blue Hour,” both made with white clay. When I began making tiles with this mold, they fired to about a one-inch thickness. I can make 1/4″-1″ with this mold.

Mold of Sunrise tile

I had trouble with my “Sunrise” tile mold because there were ‘overhangs’ on it that would prevent the clean removal of a tile. I Dremeled the top edges of the perimeter to make it easier to use. Afterward, I promised myself to be extra careful in the future. The ‘frame’ of your tile has to slip out of the mold easily or there will be too much distortion. This photo itself is distorted…the tile is square. The original tile is shallow, so the finished depth is a little over 1/4″.

Mold for Escutcheon tile

This is my sweet little Escutcheon tile mold. It’s a door plate for a skeleton key. In the Olden Days, they were highly decorated and this is the first of a series. The tile works well and I had no problem with it. The finished depth is about 1/2″ for these tiles. This pic disorts the bottom; it’s actually symmetrical.

Mold for Sheaf of Wheat tile

This was the last mold I made and the most complicated. I had to go back and make sure there were no overhanging bits that clay would catch on as I lifted the mold from the clay. This is very important and I can’t stress it enough. I actually didn’t see this problem on this particular tile until the Ceramics Department manager clued me in on it. This is a new mold and I have yet to use it. The original tile is about one-inch thick, maybe more, but the ones I want to mold, save a couple, will probably be about 1/2″ thick.

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Raku-U at Port Moody Festival of the Arts

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Who: You and your family

What: Raku-U at Port Moody’s Art 4 U Day *

When: Sunday, Sept. 25, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Where: Parking lot behind the Port Moody Arts Centre, 2425 Saint Johns Street, Port Moody, BC

Why: Decorate your own pottery and help celebrate Port Moody Festival of the Arts‘ Art 4 U Day!

* At Raku-U, families and individuals can take part in an outside pottery firing. Raku is a type of pottery that was originally made in Japan. It can have a crackle effect, be brightly colored or pearly or metallic. It’s very beautiful and fun to do!! Starting at 11 a.m., small to medium-sized ceramic pieces will be sold for $5-10 in the Raku Area (parking lot behind the Arts Centre). After choosing your pieces, you glaze them for firing. They will be fired in special kilns that are set up outside. (The kilns are roped off and the area is safe for family members.) After your piece has cooled, you can take it home to enjoy! Arts Centre volunteers are on hand to help you each step of the way. Many people have been making figurines that will appeal to children for the event and I know they will be sure to please… Come on down!

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Canadian Thanksgiving and reasons to be thankful

Burrard Inlet. Source: Vranak/Wikimedia Commons

The good news is that I now have my new computer, an iMac! I am like a kid in a candy shop because there are so many new features. I had no idea it would arrive yesterday when I made plans last week. Girl’s night out with my neighbor…I had not seen her for some time and we strolled down to the waterfront for drinks and dessert. It was a lovely night and we had a good visit. The rain even stopped for us. When I returned, I noticed the elves had set up the computer. Then, today, I made the half-hour sprint into Vancouver to attend a consultation at Small Business BC. There, I met with Mark Tempest from Deepnet Media. We talked for 40 minutes about Jane Street Clayworks and my plans. He was nice and very helpful. I’ve already shifted a few things around and axed others. He thought I was on track, regarding plans for a hosted site. He also looked into WordPress’ guided transfer service for me and I learned that nothing changes with the switch, as far as e-mail and RSS subscriptions and connections. So, you, dear readers don’t have to do a thing! Before the changes are complete, I do have a few more things to do: fully set up the new Facebook page; ditto with Etsy. Incremental change.

Downtown Vancouver. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Tempest told me about a plug-in that will allow readers to see links for related JSCW stories at the bottom of each post. I think that’s great. No more hunting… As if these changes weren’t enough for my Happiness Scale, this post was created with my new Dragon Dictate program, thereby saving me having to type, which is difficult for me because of a past injury. Speech recognition software has changed much since I started with IBM ViaVoice. Even more good news. Gee, it feels like Christmas in September! The china cabinet my husband commissioned for my birthday arrives next week!  Custom-made by Sugar Plum Oak, in Nebraska, the piece will be delivered to our curb next week. Such a cabinet is all about displays and I look forward to carefully placing some of my cherished pieces. My Great-auntie Del’s porcelain soup tureen. Of course, my own china, Mikasa’s White Crocus. Beautiful and understated. The demitasse cup and saucer my mother gave me when I was a child, porcelain glazed yellow with painted tulips. Equally good, is the fact that all of this will free up space in my cupboards, which I desperately need, given this is a small cottage. I am so grateful and thankful for bounty and blessings. I take none of them for granted. The computer and new technology will aid the production of my blog, the furniture will be easy on the eyes, the added space will make day-to-day life simpler. Canadian Thanksgiving is October 10th this year. My little home will be set up just in time…

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“Pottery artist learned his life-skills in Butte”

This story ran in the August 25, 2001 edition of Butte’s newspaper, The Montana Standard. It’s an excellent story that ran about the time  Autio’s solo exhibition, “Rudy,” opened. For more information about the Archie Bray Foundation, click here.


“Pottery artist learned his life-skills in Butte”

by Montana Lee Newspapers

MISSOULA — Before Rudy Autio, pottery in America was coffee mugs, soup crocks, potato-chip bowls. “I was never attracted to the craft,” he says, “because I thought it was something you’d find in dime stores.”

Fifty years later, Ceramics Monthly magazine hails him as one of the most significant artists in the medium ever, listing him and longtime friend Peter Voulkos among 13 “living potters and ceramic artists who have had the greatest impact on contemporary ceramics.” Continue reading

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