Louisville Clay Members Gather for an Evening with Kristian Stephens

Kristian Stephens, as a ceramic artist and floral designer in Louisville, creates compositions that are sensitive gestures of calmness, space, balance and love of nature.

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The basis of Kristian’s floral arrangement is the practice of Ikebana, a refined expression of an artist’s personal philosophy. Add to this the unique sculpted vases she makes to interact sublimely with leaves and flowers, and we have one art form influencing another.

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Kristian explained that Ikebana is a form of flower arranging developed in Japan; was prominent in the 14th century; and is popular today, with over 3000 schools teaching the art form.

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Ikebana is a three-pronged process based on: simplistic design; a minimal number of flowers; and meditating while designing. The designer’s state of mind is actually more important than the flowers. As Kristian said; “Ikebana is all about the love and need of the artist.”

Using a highly systematic method of floral arrangement, the mind is freed to become integrated with nature and self. Only 2 or 3 flowers are used in which each flower occupies a specific space. The tallest flower represents the sky; the middle sized flower represents the human; the lowest plant, the earth.

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Integral to this meditative approach are the beautiful unglazed clays of Kristian’s vases. Here’s how she creates the natural forms that hold her floral arrangements.

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Begin with two pounds of wedged stoneware clay, formed into a pyramid or other geometric shape. Let the clay rest for two hours.

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In order to lighten the lower portion of the form, press a hole in the bottom of the clay that only reaches a few inches into the clay.

Take time to press the clay walls out to widen the opening and smooth out any air bubbles, leaving thick walls.

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When the clay form has dried to the “just right” consistency, begin shaving the outside walls. Kristian exclaimed that this is real fun and relaxing for the artist.

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The top is the last part to shave off. Holes are then poked into the clay to accommodate flower and leaf stems.

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The vases are bisque fired then fired to cone six with no glaze. For a vase to hold water, a clear glaze is added to the opening where the stems reside.

“It’s all about the way that the space is used. Every flower placement, every slice of clay, has a huge meaning and presence.” We all felt the importance of Kristian’s words.

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Following Kristian’s demonstration, the group’s energy level exploded. Our exuberance came from our understanding that our own art can be a successful expression of appreciation for nature, space, and raw clay. Thanks Kristian for creating vases that express Ikebana so well.

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And to make our evening more wonderful we joined Elmer Lucile Allen in celebration of her 88th birthday. She is a great friend to many of us at Louisville Clay.

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The work of Kristian Stephens can be seen at:
Lady Made Pottery
ladymadepottery@gmail.com

Shop Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ladymadepattery

Kristian Meade

Floral Design and Event Styling
Kristian Meade Florisrty@gmail.com

A Day at The Office, Or Not

This entry is posted by Norman Adams. I wish to address the uniqueness of AA Clay and the wonderful asset of the gallery in this, none-too-subtle, plea to shoppers. Louisville has many treasures and I think this one is worth knowing about, especially if you are interested in ceramics.

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While most people would consider a day spent making clay pots not a normal day at the office, those who do are not just fiddling around.

AA Clay Studio & Gallery offers a space where the art created by the studio artists is available for purchase.

Conveniently located near Churchill Downs at 2829 South Fourth Street the AA Clay Gallery is the best place to shop for unique locally handmade ceramic articles. The active working studio artists and other selected artists at AA Clay Studio & Gallery  present handmade objects for your pleasure. Gallery hours are the same as open studio hours listed with this blog.

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The “visitable” AA Clay Gallery at 2829 South Fourth Street

Christmas shopping was never easier. Shop now before the holidays and you’ll be glad you did. The gallery offers new items regularly so shop often.

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AA Clay Gallery Opening

The gallery now offers an online site where the purchase and shipping can be easily invoiced to your card.

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Some recent items available at AA Clay Studio & Gallery online

The joy of gifting is always special but think how more special the sentiment when the item is locally hand made! AA Clay can ship any of the gallery items to any destination you wish so make your choice and ask them to ship it to your far-flung relatives and friends pining for a special touch of Louisville.

Thanks for listening to my plea to patronize this truly unique Gallery/Gift Shop. I think anyone who visits will find their time well spent. And happy holiday shopping!

Now AA Clay Studio & Gallery offers an app for your phone to make shopping for beautiful handmade ceramics even easier. The app is for Apple and Android. Click on your system icon below for your FREE download.

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Wayne Ferguson, Ceramic Humorist

A Profile, by Suzanne Adams, Clay Elements

Wayne Ferguson does not sign his works anymore and does no marketing. Yet he is most likely the best known potter in our region.

Wayne calls himself a potter. Nearly all of his works are functional: bowls, pitchers, bottles, ocarinas, platters, and teapots. He roots himself in timeless traditions of ceramic technique and design.

 

When asked whether or not he is a folk artist, Wayne replied that early on he questioned that too and was advised by educators that, no, he was not, since he had taken some ceramic college courses. Wayne is so uniquely and presently in touch with his surroundings, and presents his ideas so illustratively, that I have to question this judgement about folk art.

 

How can it be that our own stories are told by works that are overflowing with details of Wayne’s own life and culture? I believe that it is because he puts us in places and times of fascinating peculiarity, and, by presenting just the right details, comes to the point of a grand idea.

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Stories from American life.

 

Wayne’s earliest memories of working with clay are the times when his mother made clay of flour and salt so that he and his brother, Lemuel, could play with little soldiers. He went on to play with clay from the creek near his house in northern Kentucky.

Middle and high school years were tough for Wayne who matched adversity with youthful wildness. He and his brother did things that would have led to reform school were it not for the interjection of his high school art teacher, Eva Hinkle. She was able to convince Wayne that his future was with clay and art. He graduated with straight A’s and, as is well known by his friends today, with a generous heart.

A major turning point in Wayne’s life occurred when he witnessed Ladi Kwali at Berea, c. 1970. She made huge, symmetrical pots with clay coils. It was then that he decided that he would become a professional potter.

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Wayne holding pictures of Ladi Kwali at Berea.

How does he make his pottery? Wayne is a hand builder who makes “hollow-work vessels”. He pinches, coils, and presses clay to make forms that he can combine with other clay forms and finish with carving and letter stamping. Words, stamped into pots are a centuries old form of communication.

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Wayne in Louisville, Kentucky studio.
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Wayne using letter stamps.
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Pottery with stamped letters.

Over fired white clays, Wayne applies colorful glaze washes, making sure that detailed texture is apparent. Colors are representative of the world around him. Glazes are low-fired in oxidation.

Wayne makes commemorative objects and effigies to remember personal, environmental, social, and political events.

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James Meredith, civil rights activist.
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War Canisters

He draws from other cultures and times. For example, he combines semblances of pre-Columbian stirrup-vessels with playful criticisms of political figures.

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He places B-52 bombers atop delightful clouds and palm trees amid the skeletons of war.

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He uses the timeless art of individually designed whiskey bottles to express his views on Mitch McConnell, for example. Many of Wayne’s most grueling commentaries appear to be toys. The irony captivates viewers and keeps them looking. And thinking.

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Old Turtle Boubon bottle
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Donald Trump effigy

Some of Waynes commemorative sculptures can be disturbing or highly politicized. Yet, he notes that the Mayans made pots depicting the beheading of captives. Wayne does not hold back on his views either: his views have lead to censorship of his works from some national exhibitions.

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You can see Wayne Ferguson’s work, uncensored, in Frankfort this fall. Visit his upcoming show at Capital Gallery of Contemporary Art; 314 Lewis Street; Frankfort, KY 40601. Opening date: Oct. 26, 2018.

LEO’s Latest Podcast Reveals AA Clay’s Mission

Ceramicist Suzanne Adams and AA Clay Studio & Gallery owner Alex Adams talked with contributing arts editor Jo Anne Triplett about their new blog and newly introduced online ceramics gallery.
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Podcast #68: released on September 28 found at LEOweekly.com
This podcast will remain in LEO archives.

In this interesting talk Alex Adams describes the mission and highlights of AA Clay: aaclay.com. “Our mission is to create a community studio with access to ceramic equipment and working space for the pursuit of ceramics.”

One highlight worth noting is the Online Gallery, recently added to sales gallery which features local artists’ work.

Suzanne Adams describes the mission and highlights of AAClay’s new bi-monthly blog: clayelements.blog. “The blog’s mission is to magnify our ceramic culture in Louisville and southern Indiana.

Our new blog directs the readers’ attention across interests such as history, technique, and all things ceramics.

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The obligatory selfie taken at the LEO offices.
We enjoyed our interview with Jo Anne Triplett at LEO Weekly and appreciate LEO’s support of the arts.

AA Clay Joins The Ages by Making a Ceramic Mosaic

Ancient Greek mosaics are believed to be the earliest form of the mosaic technique. Greek methods began with the use of pebbles to form designs, binding the pebbles with compacted earth or a mixture of sand and lime. Artifacts, where pebbles were used to make patterned floors and pavements, have been found from the 8th century BCE.

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Pebble mosaics persisted until approximately the 3rd century BCE, when they began to be replaced with mosaics of cut stone, glass, and ceramic cubes, or tesserae, which were adhered with mortar.

Tessera, (Latin: “cube,” or “die”) plural Tesserae, in mosaic work, a small piece of stone, glass, ceramic, or other hard material cut in a cubical or some other regular shape. (Britannica, 2018)

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Ancient Greek mosaic showing tessera pattern.

Mosaic art became the leading form of pictorial art, culminating in the extraordinary Byzantine period. The Renaissance movement, c. 1400, initiated the painted fresco technique through which artists were able to produce more realistic representations.

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Mosaic dome of the Hagia Sophia 450 BCE

Use of the tesserae technique has ebbed and flowed over the centuries and has led to a wider skill set of varying techniques used by contemporary artists.

 

Enter AA Clay Studio and Gallery.

The Process:

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Step One: Collect ceramic pieces.

 

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Step Two: Layout design on cement board.

 

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Step Three: Apply pieces with mastic adhesive.

 

 

Step Four: Apply colored grout to each panel.

 

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Step Five: Installed Ceramic Mosaic.

 

Still interested in mosaics?
Check out contemporary mosaic street art below.

The city of Prague, Checkoslovakia funds artists to enliven outdoor culture through ceramic mosaics.

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Space Invader, influenced by popular arcade videos of the 70’s and 80’s, creates “invasion waves” in cities where he and his crew install 30-40 mosaics in various street locations. His goal is to bring art outside museum walls.

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Jim Bachor uses contemporary subjects of pop imagery, like Starbucks and Twinkies, to fill potholes. He mixes cut glass tesserae with the gritty asphalt of Chicago streets. His art strangely refers back to ancient street pavements. Who would have thought?

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AA Clay members are proud to be a part of the long history of mosaic art making. We offer our outdoor mosaic wall art to all who are a part of our ceramic and neighborhood communities.

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The completed AAClay members Ceramic Mosaic, August, 2018

Suggested reading can be found at the Ceramic Arts Network site under free downloads, bottom of page two: https://ceramicartsnetwork.org/freebies/free-guides/page/2/

Marie-Elena Ottman, Ceramic Sculpture

Artist Talk Hosted by Louisville Clay at AA Clay Studio & Gallery September 11, 2018

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Louisville Clay members gathered at AA Clay for Artist Talk and Potluck
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President of Louisville Clay, Alex Adams introduces Marie-Elena Ottman

Marie-Elena Ottman is a Louisville based artist with a story worth telling. Louisville Clay members enjoyed seeing images of Marie-Elena’s fantastical ceramic art, while hearing her compelling personal story.

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Having grown up in Panama with an American father and Panamanian mother, Marie-Elena makes art about the symbiosis and the tension that can exist between two cultures. At age 21 she broke with tradition in Panama, where women stay at home until married, by emigrating to the United States to attend college in Montana. What followed was an art journey in which she has represented the integration of two cultures through visual metaphor.

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Marie-Elena’s ceramic process is achieved through coil building and the use of extraordinary color. She also artfully combines glass with ceramics in her sculpture.

Her current images are derived from her homeland and include coconuts, cashews, iguanas, monkeys, coatimundis, exotic birds,Panamanian dress and vibrant color. The following images are metaphors about pregnancy, split personality, and greediness, among other life stories.

 

“I’ve learned to not forget culture, to embrace the past while also moving forward” said Marie-Elena as she closed her presentation. Ottman currently teaches Intro to Ceramics and Advanced Handbuilding at the University of Louisville. She and her husband have two children, ages 12 and 10, who are learning about their heritage by speaking Spanish as well as English.

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Experience Thermal Shock and Oxygen Reduction at AA Clay Studio & Gallery

April 14; 5 – 8 pm  ——  AA Clay Studio and Gallery, 2829 South 4th St, Louisville, will present a rarely seen clay firing process, called raku. The event is free and the public is invited. Enjoy watching the artists as they remove their clay objects from the open, roaring hot, outdoor kiln.

The AA Clay raku workshop raku workshop & kiln firing includes an evening of raku firing on April 21 in which ceramic objects, previously made by workshop participants, are fired in an outdoor kiln. This is an exciting event for artists and viewers alike, as the firing process, from loading the kiln chamber to removing objects from the hot kiln, takes only 45 minutes.

Artists and art lovers at AA Clay want to share their enthusiasm for ceramic art with other art enthusiasts in the community. They say: “Bring a lawn chair and experience the drama of clay heated to 1600 F.”