Liz Hyde: Impressions of Nature in Pottery
I have always been entranced by the living world around me, the play of light through leaves, the glow of colors in a bed of flowers, and the feel and smell of earth between my fingers.
My childhood in the Far East fostered a sense of animism, where everything in the natural world possesses a life force, an energy, creating a tension that constantly shifts into different energies as light changes, rain falls, or evening sets.
I have tried to convey this force in my pottery by creating a tension between the lyrical flow of plants and glazes, and the geometric designs of the bare clay. I want them to work off each other, yet compliment each other.To add to this, the pottery has to have meaning, to be functional, to be instilled with its own life force.
Bowls or platters are thrown on a potter’s wheel from dark stoneware. I feel the stoneware best reflects the earth from which all plants grow. To illuminate the canvas for the plants, a coating of porcelain slip (a watered-down clay) is applied to the center of the piece.
Plants are arranged and pressed into the clay, and then removed, leaving a clear impression of the plant behind.
An intricate design is then pressed into the rim of the bowl or platter with a specialized tool. The design needs to have movement, taking the eye from the center of the piece to the outside rim.
After trimming, the piece is bisque fired and ready to be glazed. The plant impressions are painted with diluted layers of underglaze, the colors flowing throughout the veins and adhering to the walls of the impression, bringing life to the leaves.
A single coat of celadon glaze over the center of the piece, leaving the edges raw, finishes the process.
The piece is now ready for the final glaze firing, mimicking the heat and metamorphosis going on deep within the earth.
Late May update – With spring here, I’m making my first fern bowls of the year.