Monday, August 24, 2009

All Saints' Bowl Complete

The All Saints' Bowl, after long last, is finished. Of course, it did not end up being all saints - since that would require either a much bigger bowl, or much smaller saints. But we have five saints, and some stained-glass windows, and it's all very churchy.

The stained-glass motif came out very well with water glazes. They seem to be illuminated, even on redware.

We chose five female saints to depict on the bowl, largely because of their attributes and stories. Saint Joan of Arc was the first chosen because I (Gabe) have been fascinated by her since I was a child. I've even dreamed of Joan of Arc many times. Our Joan looks more like a riot grrrl than a medieval French peasant, but this is our Joan, not the real one.

Saint Dorothea appears here because of her iconographic attributes - three apples and three roses in a basket. Our daughter Eva is obsessed, for some reason, with apples, and carries around a basket, so Saint Dorothea is for her.

Saint Cecilia has no personal significance, but as patron saint of music she has to be one of our choices. We love and play music of all kinds, and not a day goes by without a dance party in the kitchen. Saint Cecilia lives in our house.

Saint Mary of Egypt has a fascinating story: as a beautiful, dissipated young noblewoman Mary went on pilgrimage to seduce male pilgrims and enjoy a tour of debauchery across Europe. But when she reached the Holy Land and entered the temple, she was overcome by the Holy Spirit and saw her sins. In penance, she went out into the desert with three loves of bread and lived for much longer than anyone ought with only three loves of bread. Anyway, she's normally pictured as a wasted old woman with three loaves, which seemed like a cool image.

If we were Catholic, Saint Lucia would be our second daughter's patron. Lucia has an interesting story too - she was a lovely young nun, and when a man complimented her on her eyes, she gouged them out herself. She said she would rather live the rest of her life blind than cause anyone temptation. Lucia is usually pictured either presenting her eyes on a platter (gruesome) or holding a sprig with her eyes growing as flowers (poetic). She also carries a lamp, since her name (ironically) means "light." Also, Saint Lucia may not have actually existed. That's okay.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

All Saints' Bowl 2

Quite a while back we introduced some pictures of the All Saints' Bowl, a big bowl/sculpture that Carrie was working on in a sculpture class. It was still green at that point, and now we've come to the next stage.

Rather than slipping the inside, as we would normally do, we decided to experiment with a majolica base for a white interior. We've tried it on smaller cups and mugs to get a smooth, glassy white inside, but we haven't done it on anything this big (of course, we haven't made anything this big).

Gabe has drawn cartoon saints in the clamshell windows with underglaze applied lightly for a translucent, stained-glass effect.

There are five female saints, in the nude, all chosen because of their special iconographic attributes. When the bowl is finished and fired, we will talk about the saints we've chosen and why.

The other windows will be colored with water glazes as stained-glass windows.

Come back soon to see the finished product, fired at cone 1!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

OCD Giveaway Day!

Its that time again -- Old Cat Died Giveaway Day!

For the first Old Cat Died lover who comments on the OCD blog (not the Facebook page, but the actual blog), we have a $10 gift certificate to the OCD etsy store! That'll buy you a house or a naked peep magnet, or get you $10 closer to an exciting piece of pottery. And you can give away your giveaway to a friend or family member for a cheap and easy gift.

Not refundable for cash. Not valid in foreign countries. Not edible.

So comment already!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

More Sparkling! More Bros.! More Carnies and Freaks!

We're sticking pretty tightly to the carnival theme lately, what with Sparkling Bros. and Coney Island and Asbury Park. We have some surprises, too - freak show decals.


We're fascinated by the world of the freak show, and of human difference in general. If you've been following our work, you know our love for the human body in all its variety, and that variety is the making of beauty. In their own way, human oddities and prodigies (the words preferred by P.T. Barnum for his performers over the derogatory and belittling "freak," which originally meant "whim" and carried the connotation of impulsiveness and rashness) are figures of great beauty, as they stretch our definitions of "human" and "perfect."


Freaks, in their own particular perfection and wholeness, constitute a form of beauty that we often ignore. You've seen Purple Myrtle, of course, the resident object of desire in the Sparkling Bros. Carnival.


Her beauty and sex appeal is based in the reality that the carnival "fat ladies" were desired by many man and some, like Dolly Dimples, were married many times to admirers. This bowl shows her in her bathtub, singing opera to herself after a long day on display. A number of bearded women had beautiful voices, owing to their hormonal imbalances.

Here is a portrait of a dog-faced boy from Sparkling Bros. that we call "Gerald." He's a buttoned-up type, and very dignified and stiff. Again, many times in histories of the freak show you will see references to the dignity of the hairy people - it was, in fact, and aristocratic disease, passed through generations of intermarrying nobility.

And we've introduced Cosmo the Dwarf and Hannibal the Giant earlier in the card game. Cosmo and Hannibal stand for a lineup that betrays Hannibal's dark secret - he's not really all that tall. You know, tall for a regular guy, but for a giant...?

And poor, lovestruck Hector looks on as Myrtle performs for the customers, stroking her beard as her rotating dais turns.

That's all for now. Maybe next time we'll have to do some pretentious pontificating on art or craft or some such junk.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Decal Pots Aplenty!

So the 04 decal firing came out very well, maybe better than the cone 1. Nice crisp images, and for this firing, a mixture of Sparkling Bros. cartoons and carnival images from Asbury Park and Coney Island (special places in Carrie's childhood mythology). Today we'll feature the Asbury and Coney Island pots.

This gigantic (16 oz) mug features a 19th century ad for Coney Island on one side...


And a photograph of the legendary Cyclone on the flipside.

This mug proudly pictures the Parachute Jump from Coney Island, which Carrie's Brooklynite mother Helen was always afraid to ride.

An 8 oz cup with another cool image from Coney Island's past, the Elephantine Colossus.

A large bowl decorated with Asbury Park images. On the inside, a map of the town...

on one side, a portrait of Ernest Schnitzler, the business visionary who founded Palace Amusements...

and on the other side, a schematic of Schnitzler's gigantic indoor ferris wheel.

Finally, a small mug with a portrait of George Ferris, inventor of the Ferris wheel...

and, of course, Ferris' ferris wheel.

And lots of these pieces have tiny Tillies beaming out from obscure corners. Tillie, in case you didn't know, is the mascot of both Coney Island and Asbury Park, and the original Asbury Park Tillie, which decorated a wall of Palace Amusements, is currently being restored.

That's it for the New York/New Jersey themed pieces. Next time we'll return to the imaginary world of the Sparkling Bros. Carnival for some works featuring the soon-to-be-beloved carnies.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Some More New Decal Pots

Here's some more of our new decals pieces. This first one is just a whimsical drawing of Hector from my sketchbook, an awareness that Hector looks kind of like the blow-up punching clowns of our childhood. It seemed like an appropriate juxtaposition at the time.



These three images introduce a story about Hector and Frank's weekly poker games with Cosmo the Dwarf and Hannibal the Giant (who is really only 6' 5", but has stage presence).

We never hide our errors - in any craft or art you're always learning, and contemplating problems is crucial to that process - and here's the biggest disappointment from this kiln-load. It was Carrie's favorite cup, and it was unfortunately placed a little too close to another glazed piece - not touching, but close enough for the glaze to reach out and make a connection. So, Frank and his stogie has a nice big chip in it.

There's another load coming out of 04, so when we get those we'll share. See you then!

Monday, August 3, 2009

First Round of Decals is Out!

So, after failed (but instructive) experiments, a couple of harrowing days worrying about a faulty firing, and some disappointment at lost pieces, our first round of decals is out of the third firing. These were fired at cone 1; a second group is being fired at 04 as we write and should be out tonight. We'll see which firing looks best.

Here are some shots of Carrie applying the decals to the high-fire pots.



And here are some of the first official Sparkling Bros. Carnival vessels! Each one has a backstory and characters to get to know. Hope you enjoy them!

This teabowl takes us back to Hector's childhood in a sleazy Mexican-themed amusement park, where he was unknowingly a performer. It's where his love of the show life began.

On this bowl, Hector sits outside Purple Myrtle's trailer as she sings opera to herself in her off hours, oblivious to his devotion.

Another teabowl, this one featuring the Sparkling Bros. resident love object, Purple Myrtle, the fat bearded lady. She's a fine figure of a woman, and possessed of the most impressive whiskers this side of Karl Marx.

A tiny teabowl showing Myrtle's tent, where the barker attracts marks to the best value in the carnival - only 5 cents to see the greatest fat bearded lady alive!

One last little teabowl for today - Hector wandering sadly away from Myrtle's tent, lost in unrequited love.

More pictures tomorrow!