October 6, 2013

Fossil Fueled Art

The nice thing about going through old boxes and cases preserved from one’s youth are the treasures that can be found there. Parents often preserve what we are likely to forget or not understand the value of as we become teenagers and young adults. Such was the case for my mother and for my husband’s mother as well. Despite living in a small apartment, my late mother-in-law kept the things her children made and preserved the precious nature items that they found. My husband had a collection of rocks, arrow heads and fossils which again were shown the light of day after his mother’s storage area was opened and gone through. Some of the broken fossil shark’s teeth I repaired with plasticine clay and made plaster casts. These became the molds for my clay whistles and ocarinas. But there was also an intriguing segment of a shark vertebra amongst these fossil treasures that I had also made a cast from but didn’t use until now.

The center portion of the vessel posted here was made from the clay impressions of this vertebra, to which I then added a lid and three feet. The glaze was a simple terra sigillata white which was bisque fired then pit fired for a smokey effect. This was one of the pieces that did not get a lot of dramatic coloring because the fire never got very hot - a consequence of firing too soon after a spate of drenching rains. But I liked the subtlety of the white barely grazed by smoke. There will be opportunities ahead to make more vessels from the vertebra, most likely in red and blackened clay but possibly ochre with a touch of earthy green as well. But that is for winter.

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