Monday, July 2, 2012

A Winding Road

The journey started one day when I was pondering the theme of Assemblage, Collage and Recycle for an upcoming Redlands Art Association members show.  As a ceramic artist, it wasn’t immediately apparent what I should submit for display during this upcoming show.  Sure, my current work was technically “assembled” during the hand-building process and as a group ceramicists are good about re-wedging and recycling their clay scraps, but neither of those two factors really sat well with me for justifying entering pieces I had in inventory to the show.

I decided to take a quick break from the studio and walk over to a nearby cafĂ© to pick up something for lunch to clear my head.  It was walking back that it hit me.  A solution, not perfect, but it would be something interesting and it would qualify as a mixed media assemblage piece.

Waffle-weave bowls with fabric woven through and knotted to create a design on the inside of the bowl.  The bottom of the bowl would have all of the rough ends and edges of the fabric sticking out in every direction and add an interesting dimension to the piece.  I had no idea if it would work.  Could I take the image in my head and translate it?  I figured, what the heck, it was worth a shot.  That afternoon I made several waffle-weave bowls and left them to set-up for firing.

Weeks passed and I started to pull together fabric scraps and ideas on designs for the bowls.

In the meantime, I learned about an event in Redlands called Celebrate Citrus.  It is put on annually by the Inland Orange Conservancy (IOC) to raise money to support local citrus growers.  The event organizers were looking for artists to display any citrus-inspired pieces at the event with 15% of any sales going to support the IOC.  I’m well aware of the struggles the local growers have in my area and it was free to participate, so I signed up!

Close to home, exposure opportunity … Great idea, right?  Well, I’ve never used citrus related ideas in any of my pieces.  I spent a little bit of time brainstorming orange peel textured mugs, orange slice bowls and nothing spoke to me.  Instead, I decided to pull some older pieces, wheel-thrown bowls, out of storage and present them as fruit bowls.  It seemed like a decent solution, but I wasn’t convinced.

As the event neared, the waffle-weave bowls also finished the glaze firing process.  They were sitting on the floor in my workroom, spread out and waiting for me to dazzle them with fabric.  That’s when it hit me; they were even more perfect fruit bowls!  Due to the holes in the design, the fruit would get good air flow and they were a nice, big size to hold lots of fruit.

What about my assemblage plans?  I figured, the Celebrate Citrus event was more about exposure than sales especially since the focus would be on the orange groves, so I’d have them back to add fabric with no problem.

Best laid plans and all … the waffle-weave bowls sold out that day along with a few of the smaller wheel-thrown bowls.  I ended up winging the assemblage show with tiles on fabric hangers … sort of in theme, but not really.  I’ve since given up on my grand fabric design ideas.  It certainly was a twisty, winding journey on the inspiration for waffle-weave fruit bowls, but people seem to like them

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