Building the House for “The Empty Room”

Construction of the house for the film “The Empty Room” began in early September.  Or original plan was to space the build out over several weeks and fire stories as they dried, but after a test build we determined that the box construction would require more dry time than anticipated so we opted to push the build into one very intense week.IMG_6476As with all projects we began with prepping clay and pressing the molds, one story at a time.  Each story needed about 100 lbs of clay wedged and weighed out into specific slugs to accommodate each mold.  Each floor was about 3 days, clay prep was the first.

IMG_6353 IMG_6351The second day was focused on pressing the molds and preparing the wall for assembly.  This was a huge job, as the pieces are very complex and have many details that needed to be prepped on the same day.  Not only did we make molds for the build, but also many of the tools were custom-made for the project.   This tool was designed to give us perfect cuts on the edges of the walls and floor so we could more precisely control fit.

IMG_6349The day following pressing was assembly.  The floor was put in place first and the corner with the stairs was attached to the floor.  This is the second floor.  The cut outs pictured here will be for the staircase on the floor beneath.

IMG_2067 IMG_2068Once the corner was reinforced and secure, the staircase was attached.  We began with the landing and the bottom half and built up from there.  These pics are also of the second floor and so include a handrail that is not present on the first floor.

IMG_2069 IMG_2073 IMG_2074 IMG_2077 IMG_2031IMG_2083The windows were cut earlier on this story to give us access to the underside as the entire stair well is likely to be shown in the film and needed to fe completely finished.

After the stairs we put on the remaining two walls were applied.  With each wall the corners and other details from the molds had to be tuned back up as handling was somewhat damaging.

IMG_2021Once all four walls were in place, the flange was attached to the top and cutting windows and clean up and finish work could be done.

IMG_2033 IMG_2042 Another thing we learned from the test build was that the walls wanted to move quite a bit during the drying process.  To control this to some degree Gabe devised a cap to fit into the flange and stay with the floor throughout its shrinking and firing process.  This was a fairly last-minute addition to the group of molds and had to be resolved quickly, so the original was made from a combination of wood and clay.

IMG_6442 IMG_6454The first two floors were very similar and so we could build a skill set from one two the next and refine the process.  The third floor was another matter, There are far more windows on this floor and another wall inside the structure.  It also has a large facade and a roof.  Mold prep was the same in many ways, but with molds we had not yet used in an order that we had not tested, this was the greatest challenge of the project.

IMG_6481 IMG_6482 IMG_6485 IMG_6489 IMG_6490 IMG_6496 IMG_6499 IMG_6504Because they were made so close to one another we were able to see them wet all at once, which made a great group.

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Judy Onofrio

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This piece titled “Flux” by Judy Onofrio is featured in a review of her work in Ceramics Art and Perception issue 92.  The work is composed of ceramic forms and found objects, primarily bone, that the artist collects and cleans for this purpose.  The assemblages are then unified by paint surfaces that accentuate the feeling that the sculptures are a living thing.

Bone are very particular objects.  They are not made, by hands nor geologic process.  They are grown, but unlike most living things, they survive death.  They are the structure of animals and carry a memory of them, yet taken as objects they evoke another kind of architecture.  They can evoke a sense of the undying principles of life, it is this I believe that is behind a cultural obsession with the human skull.

This work then, which combines found objects grown from natural process and artist rendered shapes made from earth and transformed by fire come together to give new meaning to both.  The delicate hue of the assemblages pulse with life and point to a notion that the cycles of life and death are part of the creating process, a part of every life.Judyonofrio2twist Judyonofrio1

Inventing the Modern World

inventing4Rozenburg Haagsche Plateelbakkerij, The Netherlands (The Hague), 1883-1914. Milk Jug, 1900. Glazed porcelain with enamel. 108 x 40.6 x 33.7 cm. Designmuseum, Danmark, Copenhagen, 793.

 

One of the best things about the Ceramics Art and Perception assignment this semester is catching up on events in the ceramic community that I missed.  One of these that I most enjoyed was the review if the show “Reinventing the Modern World” that was staged by the Nelson Atkins museum in Kansas City in 2012. The show has toured some and so there are other museums that have sites dedicated to the show, but here is the original:

http://www.nelson-atkins.org/art/exhibitions/WorldsFairs/

The intent of these shows when they were first conceived was to showcase national manufacturing and design in a cooperative environment that allowed the spread of ideas globally.  There was also a fair amount for showing off, so the bet artists and craftspeople of a country were invited to participate, making it some of the best of the best work that a period had to offer.  The show focus’ on a period in which some ceramic was beginning to be designed for exhibition rather than domestic use, so these works have a very contemporary art piece feel.

inventing2Miyagawa Kozan, Japanese, 1842-1916. Vase, ca. 1904. Glazed porcelain. 35.6 x 31.2 cm. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Acquired by Henry Walters, 1904, 49.1912 Walters.

Much like the worlds fairs themselves, the show featured many different arts and crafts objects, such as furniture, glass and metal, but there was also a range of styles and approaches to the ceramic work.  This vase seems influenced by Paul Gauguin’s experiments with ceramic.  Its form and surface have an incredibly contemporary feel.

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Pierre Adrien Dalpayrat, French, 1844-1910. Vase, La Mer, 1898-1900. Glazed stoneware. 40.6 x 36.8 x 40.6 cm. Saint Louis Museum of Art, Richard Brumbaugh Trust in memory of Richard Irving Brumbaugh and Grace Lischer Brumbaugh and funds given by Jason Jacques, 7:2010.

The focus of this show is largely a historical one, what was the world like at the time and how were these Worlds Fairs influential in the making of culture, but I see a deeper significance in restating historical shows.  Disparate objects become a single work of art through the process of good curation.  How interesting then to consider this historical work restaged in a contemporary setting. Bringing these works together again has the power influence a new generation of artists and thinkers in a way that photos in a book or a single example in a museum just can’t do. At the very least, it reminds us working in the field today of our roots and provides inspiration for new ideas.

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Algot Erikson, decorator, Swedish, 1868-1937. Rörstrand Porslins Fabriker, manufacturer, Sweden
(Stockholm), 1726-1964. Vase, 1904. Porcelain. 42.3 x 18.4 cm. Cincinnati Art Museum, Museum Purchase with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. William O. DeWitt, Jr.

Images for this post were taken from this site:

http://arttattler.com/designworldsfairsmodernworld.html

The Geometric Style Pottery of Greece

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The reemergence of decorated pottery in the Aegean is a slow refining process of picking up where the Mycenaean  left off after inheriting the great pottery traditions of Crete.  This early Greek style continued to evolve until the mature geometric style emerged. The circles and half circles of the Proto-Geometric style are replaced by increasingly complex designs and feature patterns such as the meander, the key pattern and the swastika.  As with many early pottery traditions, these designs may have been largely influenced by basketry, wickerwork and weaving.  in fact the similarity between the woven patterns of the time and designs on the pots have led some archeologists to theorize that many of the painters of these early greek pots were women as weaving was their exclusive territory.

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Figures emerge on the work around 800 bce and may have been influenced by eastern arts.

Most of the large vessels of the period were used as grave markers and feature funerary scenes.  These are the most ambitious and heavily decorated objects of the period.

While the later periods of greek pottery are far more well know and celebrated, this work is more engaging to my eye.  These pots integrate form and decoration to a greater degree than the later work which can seem an exercise is excess in both pot and decoration which the two rarely meet for the benefit of the entire vessel.

I used  the wonderful The History of Greek Vases by John Boardman for source material in this post.